Posted by: tim ellis | May 20, 2007

Romania – Monday, May 14 2007

I get to the airport in plenty of time, (can you see a theme developing here….) too early in fact to get my bags checked in – the girl on the check in desk is very helpful though and tags everything up and tells me to come back in twenty minutes and just ask them to put the bags on the conveyor – which works like a charm, allowing me to proceed through to departures and find some breakfast, which I do at giraffe – and very good it is too!

The flight leaves just before 10:00 UK time (Noon, Romanian time), so of course the meal they serve us in the flight is breakfast…

The flight is a little bumpy in parts, but we have a tail wind, so arrive slightly ahead of schedule, Immigration and Customs are no problem – an obvious benefit to us of Romania now being part of the EEC, so once I’ve collected my bag it’s time to meet my guide, Florin. There is another English couple on the same trip (Simon and Lesley) but they have their own guide (Bogdan, aka Bebe).

We drive from the airport without going through Bucharest itself, up to the mountains, stopping once for coffee on the way. The country is a mixture of old-style houses and modern tower blocks (Communist “sleeper” towns built to service factories) with a fair number of horses, cows, sheep and donkeys on, or alongside, the road.

The scenery (naturally) gets more impressive, closer to the mountains (which, despite the 30C temperature still have snow on the ridges) including the thirteenth century Rasnov Castle (complete with Hollywoodesque name sign).

We arrive at Guesthouse Elena at around 6pm, allowing time for a brief freshen up before dinner at 6:30 to allow us to go out at around 9pm to go and look for bears coming to raid the bins in Brasov. Apparently they come down along one particular road which is directly adjacent to the forest.

We drive up and down a couple of times, almost like kerb crawlers cruising for bears, without any luck. Florin decides to give it one more try before calling it a night. We are at one end of the road when his phone goes. Bebe has found a bear at the other end. As we approach them, I see a bear on the wall above some bins. We pull into the carpark opposite and leap out to observe. It is a female with three cubs, but they soon leave back into the trees as Simon and Lesley arrive. They had seen a large male at the next bin down. We can hear the bears, still just out of site in the trees, so we wait around a bit longer and eventually mum and cubs reappear. Mum gets into one of the bins, then climbs out and goes around to the front and pulls it over to allow access to whatever it is she is after. When they leave again we drive once more up the road and spot one more bear a bit further up, before heading back to base.

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