Day 96 - Thursday 6th July - Craiova to Timisora

It was just over 320k from Craiova to Timisoara, a destination we wanted to arrive at early enough to visit the Museum of the Revolution. A museum that was dedicated to the 1989 Romanian revolution that ended communist rule and the control of the dictator Nicolae Ceauscescu who ruled from 1967 to 1989.

There is only one freeway in Romania and it runs from Bucharest, the capital to the Hungarian border. Unfortunately not near where we were. So our route continues along the two lane road we had navigated the previous evening. Crowded with trucks it was slow progress.

On the outskirts of Craiova we passed a small oil field with its donkey pumps bobbing up and down. The rolling hills covered with wheat and sun flowers soon became more treed and mountainous. The appearance of prosperity did not. The countryside was dotted with old abandoned industrial buildings. The housing was not much better, except for one town that we passed through where a number of the buildings had these multi tiered roofs like a pagoda.

We head for Orsova on the Danube and the Serbian border for morning tea. It was situated in the edge of the mountainous Domogled National Park. A lake resort town, it was struggling and most of the infrastructure was crumbling.   

One of the observations, new to our travels were the small business operators plying the highway, most likely servicing the trucks. All young and female, in shorts and tight fitting fluro T shirts, obviously so that they would be noticed and probably so that they would not get run over while waiting on the edge of the road.

Travel was slow. The guide books had advised not to expect average travel times of better than 50 kph. This was probably optimistic. The temperature was once again in the 30s. Europe seemed to be experiencing a heat wave. Slow driving in a hot MG is very tiring.

The other challenges we had were the road signs. The speed limit was constantly changing 60 – 80 – 100 and back down again. But this was not limited to Romania. I am sure it was done on purpose so that no one had a clue what was going on and the police could pick you up at random. The other issue was the no overtaking road sign a black car, being over taken by a red car. In Romania, this is interpreted strictly. Red cars can not over take black cars, but anyone else can, even black overtaking red. And they all do as there are very few red cars – possibly for the obvious reason.

We eventually made the A1 and the last 60 kilometers into our destination was much more pleasant. A group went straight to the hotel, while the other 3 cars went to the museum. Timisora was where the revolution that toppled Ceauscescu started. It only lasted a couple of weeks, and like the rest of the Soviet block that had already collapsed, the outcome was inevitable. Unfortunately for the Romanians, the army was still loyal to Ceascescu and opened fire on the protestors. More than 1100 we killed over a few weeks at the end of December 1989. Ceascescu realising that his power was doomed tried to flee with his wife, but were caught in the process. A summary trial and both were executed on Christmas day 1989.

The city was pretty lively place with a folk dancing festival in progress which was being televised to the nation. The parade through the main Independence Square added colour and a lot of noise as drums were beaten and trumpets blasted, none it seemed, in time. But may be that was how it was supposed to be.