We find ourselves back travelling through Serbia again, and we head north east. This is one of the prettiest border crossings so far – over the river. Then onto Romania to a gorgeous town called Orsova for two nights. We book into Pensiune Oliver right on the River Danube with a stunning view, and the price is incredible as it is off-season. It is too cold to sit out on the balcony, but it is nice to be in a stunning location and the room is a bargain price. The owner makes us a special meal in the restaurant – we are all alone, but not to worry. It has been a long drive, and she brings me a glass of wine from her private supplies – how kind!
I love being back in Romania, and I meet an older man as he stops to look at our UK car, and his eyes nearly fall our of his head when he realises it is just the two of us, and I am a woman driver. I am delighted we get to ‘talk’ to him, as he is sporting the traditional hat of Romania – and I have so wanted a pic of one of them, and he is more than happy to oblige.
The second day we visit St. Ana, the oldest monastery site in Romania so we are told. With my adoration of wooden monasteries, we wander and explore, and this one has no charge to enter.
Next day we are driving along the not so Blue Danube as we leave Orsova. It is fantastic, and we both say how much we want to come back in the summertime.
Thankfully that night Beyond Dracula have organised us a private tour, and booked us into Casa Altringen, about 30 minutes drive from Timisoara. Casa Altringen was just so beautifully decorated, and we arrived just as the snow fell. The is a resident dog that instantly friends us, and it is little things like that that help traveling feel more like ‘home’.
We had an upstairs room, so that was lovely, and immaculately presented.
We detoured into VOX, an authorised Apple Mac dealer in Timisoara on the way, and left the computer to try and recover our now crashed hard drive. Thankfully we were able to source a secondhand MacBook Air from his customer contacts, so we needed to wait a few days for that to be set up, and so were able to recover some of the data.
Here we were at Casa Altringen now faced with no technology, no web-site, no income and I felt like life was crashing down around me. No matter where you go in the world, there will always be problems, but continual adversity as a single parent can sometime be really difficult to handle. We had always planned to finish with the car when we were in Turkey, but as I have blogged before we were not legally allowed to sell it there, so had spent several thousands of dollars fixing, and re-registering it. Now we really had little choice financially than to keep moving forward.
So that night I was really just so grateful that a little of my stress was relieved, with the help we had received from Beyond Dracula in finding us such a delightful place to stay at Casa Altringen. Possibly around ten trips in all backwards and forwards to the shopping centre where the Apple Mac authorised dealer was located occurred in the forthcoming days.
Meanwhile Beyond Dracula had suggested some places to visit. Explorason is all into navigating at the moment, so he used the GPS feature of a great App. called ‘Maps With Me’ to find the dead centre of Timisoara.
He then chased the pigeons in Opera Square.
Finally, after several days we had ourselves a secondhand Macbook Pro, and I could start to set it up and go through all my emails. This is a big YAY from both of us.
Without a computer we can’t do our world-schooling, planning for future travels to get the car back to sell, booking accommodation, nor to continue to raise funds for our Random Acts of Kindness, let alone blog, and I don’t get paid to do that.
So I felt really happy, and the guy in the VOX Apple store had been really helpful.
Now we were faced with just how to pay the credit card off. But we had some kind very friends help us out there (for some of the funds) over the coming days, and it really just blessed us so much.
Finally by the weekend we departed Timisoara in a deluge of rain, and drove via Arad,and the Oradea – Arad is known for its stunning architecture. This is a great highway road, and it was here we stopped in to a Macdonald’s to use the wi-fi and we had more good news via email on the iPhone. Our web-site had finally been moved to a new host, and was back up and running again!
Explorason leaps with delight! Man, it has been a stressful week.
That night we stopped in a small Romania border town called Livada. The snow fell quite heavily and next morning we had heard we could get a one day (24 hour) visa exemption to drive the car through Ukraine to Slovakia.
We arrive at the border and ask the Romania side and they agree this should cost us five Euro and is ‘doable’.
We get through the Ukraine side, but they ask us to wait ‘five minutes’ for the paperwork. After about ‘fifteen minutes’ with the engine running they ask me to pull over to the side. Around ‘sixty minutes’ later (and many visits to the office from me) they come out with the papers – but they are not correct, and they ask us to go back via Romania and Hungary to get to Slovakia.
But oops, we left the headlights on and the battery is flat! Crikey – this day is not going so well. By now we have got along pretty well with the border staff, and the big beefy guy grabs my jumper charge leads and demands a car come over for us to jump start off his battery. A small feud erupts, but the beefy guy wins, and we are aided. This whole time we have no passports or car documents – and this makes me nervous.
We perform a 180 degree drive, go back to the border patrol area for the exit of Ukraine, and we are questioned if we are bringing in firearms or narcotics whilst he does a bit of a search of the car. Another ‘thirty minutes’ goes by.
Just out of Satu Mare we stop and see these lovely ladies arm in arm on the way home from church. I love the way they are helping each other not to slip on the snow.
We drive on and spend the best part of the day sightseeing around Slovakia. The weather goes from snowy to blue sky. Back and forth all day.
We find an old castle and go exploring for a bit. But then before we know it, we are in a snowy blizzard. We can’t get to the town where we want to spend the night at Trebisov. As we turn east, the blizzard which was coupled with massive winds abates. Kosice is the next town we visit, and really more like a city, and here MacDonald’s comes to the party with internet for us again.
I am pretty shocked when I fill the car with fuel at the leap in price from the last few countries. I also notice the leap in MacDonald’s prices. So we discuss this, and Explorason is really keen to drive back down to Hungary. As we start to drive, we drive right past HELL.
We feel life has been pretty tough of late, so this is apt. We know it is our choice, but travel is not always fun and excitement, but it is about attitude. Maybe the bad is all behind us now we decide ! We have indeed bypassed ‘Hell’ itself.
Then we see the most majestic sunset I can remember God creating in a long time.
It seems to pipe its way through the sky, but after this photo the sky changes to an incredible purple – pink glow emanating from the horizon. I had no place to stop the car in time, so it is one for the memory bank. No photo. I finally stop as the colours are blurring and sinking.
We have accommodation we had prepaid and booked at Aquamarina Hotel – and it is a river boat on the Danube. This is so exciting for Explorason, and he is busting to get there.
We arrive quite late at night at Aquamarina Hotel and are glad they can offer us an extra night, with a fabulous room, and not to far to walk with the bags.
It is a four star hotel, and for this weekend the special is Fifteen Euro’s including breakfast – how incredible is that? I found this special in one of the on-line booking sites and sometimes they are cheaper than a walk in rate.
Now we have our technology sorted, we spend the day in our ‘cabin’. It has a glass floor in the lounge area that fascinates my son. He races around from the Aquamarina Hotel boat to the shore taking his photos and videos. I’m so pleased and proud of his latest passion of videoing and photography. He is also about to set up his own blog with a merge of his old blog, and linked to his YouTube Videos. Stay tuned for www.caveboycreeper.com
By the afternoon the snow is falling heavily across the Danube River, but it is beautiful to see the barges glide past.
The sun rises as we leave. Here we are in Budapest, Hungary.
What an incredible few weeks it has been. Challenging to say the least, but we are so thankful for what we have seen, the people we have met, and the real friends we have come to appreciate as part of our journey.
Thanks for sharing it with us, and we hope we can keep going, and keep on inspiring you all.