Updated: Sep 18
We have been waiting for our fourth and hopefully last garage appointment for almost a week now. The wait at the Black Sea was anything but unpleasant or boring and yet, today we are moving on. After ten fantastic days at the sea we start today purely geographically speaking the return journey. Back towards the northwest, back via Hungary, Austria to Switzerland.
Besides the service appointment in the Mercedes garage, we also want to clean our FRAME from salt and sand. In addition, of course, the obligatory water refueling and food shopping. This time we choose the route that leads us more or less around Constanţa. When we drove here, we did not miss the opportunity to drive through Mamaia, the Copacabana of Romania. Mamaia is lined with large hotel boxes in the two-, three- and four-star categories. Not least because of the similar-sounding name, this lagoon road reminds me of Miami Beach Road, only without the luxury. Just Romanian instead of American. Our vehicle caused a lot of head turning and a thumbs up every now and then. FRAME is not a sleek convertible, but our engine noise can certainly compete with the souped-up and tuned sports cars here.
With Swiss punctuality, we arrive at eleven o'clock for the appointment. People are waiting everywhere in front of the large workshop doors. I mentally prepare myself for a test of patience and am pleasantly surprised when the receptionist asks me to pass through the last empty gate. There it stands, our fat one. In the midst of semitrailers and construction site vehicles. But somehow a bit sexier with its high clearance and fat tires. In any case, word of our vehicle gets around quickly and both the employees and the waiting customers are tempted to take selfies in front of our vehicle. Of course, this always pleases us and also confirms that we did everything right with the vehicle design. But still, we are standing here in the garage today, where we would actually prefer not to be. After the quick start of getting a box and an initial analysis, then the first damper. It is an electrical problem with the air conditioning system and the electrician is just some 200 kilometers away at the moment. In addition the chief mechanic must fetch his wife in the hospital over noon. In order to use the imposed waiting period, we go meanwhile for some shopping and with FRAME to the car wash. Back in the workshop we are worried about the success of the repair, because the mechanics are not really making progress. Finally the breakthrough. At last, cold air is flowing through the flaps. How did they do that, I ask. No answer. Eventually it turns out that they have disconnected a small black box from the system, the use of which nobody knows, and lo and behold, it works. Somehow this solution doesn't make me entirely happy. The black thing must have a use. Just because the mechanics don't recognize it doesn't mean that you can just disconnect it. We are faced with the choice of driving with air conditioning or the ominous box. And yes, of course, we decide on the air conditioning. Unfortunately, the vehicle manufacturer in Germany does not get back to us today to solve the mystery of the black box. Besides, it's almost evening and we have at least another hour of driving ahead of us. Driving in the dark is and remains a no-go. We only want to do that in an extreme emergency, which we really don't have today.
At the gas station, the FRAME is once again well supplied with liquids (diesel and water) and we are already back on the Sunshine Highway in the direction of the Danube. For the sake of simplicity, we could have chosen the same place to spend the night as on the outward journey. It was quite idyllic, but also a bit noisy. So we decide for the opposite bank of the Danube and thus we turn left only after the payable highway bridge of Fetesti for about 10 kilometers. The decision was right. We arrive at one of our most beautiful campsites of our trip. Directly at the Danube, unseen and far away from yapping dogs. The only disappointment is the fact that on arrival our air conditioning was already not working again. After about an hour of operation, gradually only a stale warm breath comes out of the fittings. Even at the fourth attempt only frustration instead of frost.
The following day Bucharest is now within reach. Only about 200 kilometers separate us from the capital and almost exclusively highway, so relaxed driving. But our destination for the day is still not Bucharest. Not yet. Because we are expected today by Adrian, my former vice director at the Radisson Blu / Park Inn Cluster and two other former employees of mine at Singureni Manor. A real insider tip, even for locals. Singureni is located about an hour's drive southwest of the capital and is an impressive game and horse retreat with an area estimated at five kilometers in diameter. The numerous high seats still bear witness to its original use as a hunting reserve. Today, Singureni Manor is home to, among other things, a few hundred free-roaming deer, numerous wild birds and over a hundred Arabian horses, some of which have won prizes, as well as a few Haflinger horses.
After the controlled entry through the main gate to the property, we first drive three kilometers through fairy-tale forest, where we run into deer and roe deer in droves. Adrian, Dragos and Ionuts are waiting for us at the main house and the stables of Singureni and leave us free choice of location for spending the night at FRAME. Immediately behind the flat buildings, we set up in a huge clearing with a direct view of several dozen grazing deer. What a unique place to spend the night. A huge privilege for us and maybe a future business idea for Adrian?
But now the evening belongs to the memories of the good old times. With a beer in our hands we are sitting surrounded by young trees enjoying the reunion and happy that we all have hardly aged ;-)
The next morning we go first of all on a discovery tour on our fatbikes. Without GPS you could get lost in the forests of Singureni. The trees here are incredibly large and diverse. To get wild animals in front of the lens is not really easy without the necessary patience to stay on the lookout. We have seen in the two days probably almost a three-digit number. Filmed or photographed but unfortunately nothing. You'll just have to take our word for it...
After a delicious lunch with the host we finally drive with the XXL golf cart to the official estate tour. Especially the Pauls Lodge with its 13 individually and extremely tastefully furnished rooms is a bijou of the special class. Romania is not known for luxury, but rather for good and cheap. However, Pauls Lodge proves that Romania also has luxury to offer. And also this comes in Singureni in comparison extremely inexpensive. For the price of a single suite in a luxury hotel somewhere in Europe, you get here a private lodge with 13 fantastic rooms, private indoor pool and SPA, luxurious lounge, living and dining area, as well as a rooftop terrace with views over the whole property. Simply incredible!
After the Saturday horse show with the most beautiful and elegant Arabian horses of the estate, it is already time for us to leave. We venture with our vehicle into the big city of Bucharest. To be honest, we have home advantage, so to speak, because we both learned to drive trucks in this city. Not out of boredom, but for purely opportunistic reasons, we took our C driving license here in the summer of 2018 under circumstances that were particularly difficult for us in terms of language.
If you think this is easier in Romania, just imagine having to have an interpreter in the middle seat during the driving lesson, mastering the chaotic big city traffic partly in snow and slush in a 12 ton lorry and all this in a vintage truck where even the driving instructor needs two hands from time to time to shift into fifth gear. Our driving lessons were anything but easy, but all the more adventurous.
We head for the open parking lot of the Marriott Hotel. At the Radisson in the center we have no chance to find a sufficiently large parking lot. Those who know Bucharest know that there are at least three cars for every two parking spaces. People park everywhere where there is just a hand's width of space. The Marriott parking lot is also limited to three and a half tons, but with a special authorization from the hotel owner, we are still able to park. We are there in the middle of the city, safe and incredibly quiet.
In the evening, we meet up with old friends and acquaintances at the Radisson for a few drinks and sushi dinner. It is always wonderful to return to a former place of work. Even though Corona has noticeably changed the team, I always see a familiar face around every corner. The welcome is warm as usual and the service top notch. The Ginger Restaurant has been able to get its original sushi chef back after the crisis. What a win for the restaurant and the hotel. For us, the number two insider tip in Bucharest. Best Sushi in Town from the hands of sushi artist Phursang Lama and his small team from Nepal.
Fortunately, it is Sunday and we can drive undisturbed through the city without being stopped even once. Our route takes us from the government palace via the Arc de Triumph up to the more commercial north. We have to reschedule our stop in Baneasa at short notice because of an air show event. There is simply no more room for us amidst the thousands of spectators around the airport. Without further ado, we drive on to our dinner rendez-vous at the number three insider tip.
The Snagov Club has been one of our favorites for a weekend escape from the big city for quite some time. What is considered a dream location for hundreds of wedding couples every year, is also extremely romantic and relaxing for us. We are now about 30 kilometers outside Bucharest and the big city bustle has long since given way to the agricultural idyll. Snagov is not only the name of the town, but also the name of a small lake where rowers like to test their strength. Surrounded by dense forests, it feels like an oxygen oasis. Here, too, we enjoy the enormous hospitality of the hotel director, who has come here especially for dinner on this Sunday with his charming young family.
One last visit of a friend is now ahead of us, before we will slowly say goodbye from Romania again. In the real (according to the saga) Dracula castle town of Bran, we have an appointment in a few days with our dear and highly esteemed Jakob and Crenguţa. The two restaurateurs even came to visit us in Switzerland for Brigitte's special birthday and the presentation of FRAME. This and much more we credit to the two and therefore a final visit to Bran may not be missing. But until then we still have three days, so we hit the mountains again for the time being, because we still haven't seen any bears until today. Everybody talks about the many bears in the Carpathians, so we try our last luck above the Rausor reservoir, north of Campulung.
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