What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Visiting the UNESCO world heritage sites of Sighisoara and Viscri - not the cycling, which I saw as the least intrusive way to explore Transylvania. Sighisoara is a well-preserved and still inhabited medieval citadel. Definitely visit the unpretentious museum within the ancient clocktower (it looks like something out of Disney’s “Cinderella”), ascend to the top and enjoy the view of the town over the profusion of roof tiles…. and stay for the old clock to sound the hour. Our hotel was charming and right on the central square. Our night in the village of Viscri was such fun. The road through Viscri was not paved, there were horses and carts everywhere and a horse and cart took us to the beautifully preserved Saxon church and also to see how they make (by hand) the bricks and tiles used to restore the village. Then in the evening after enjoying a sociable beer or two at the local store which doubled up as the pub, we enjoyed dinner in the garden of the cottage where we were staying and witnessed the procession of cows returning to their homes to be milked, only to leave for the pastures at dawn.
What did you think of your group leader?
Raluca Teodor was an angel. It was she who had planned the trip – we even squeezed in a delicious water mill lunch and a tour of a water powered woollen blanket business - and she looked after 8 of us on her own. Raluca has her own adventure travel business and is passionate about her country. Most nights we had a Romanian history lesson, but night by night the history became more and more confusing, especially as Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia only united to form Romania in 1881 under King Carol 1. She was considerate and sociable, could repair bikes and had planned well, but not for the terrible rain storm on our first full day! But we landed up at a great little hotel in the middle of nowhere, welcomed at the door by Mirella, who seemed to do everything except cook. There was a lady cook though, who was fantastic and the breakfast was the best of many good breakfasts on the holiday.
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Some may miss WIFI – it wasn’t always available. So what! If you are particularly concerned about the quality of the accommodation, be sure to read Trip Notes. We stayed in guest houses, most of which were charming. We spent our last night in Bucharest in the beautiful “fin de siècle” Capitol Hotel. Probably not a holiday for very keen cyclists, but personally I would visit Transylvania ASAP before the Idyll is destroyed by “Progress”.