From Zagreb I continued towards Romania, planning on spending one night in Belgrade which I last visited more than 20 years ago. I got there fairly late in the afternoon so I didn’t actually have a lot of time to spend in the city, but a friend of mine who is from Belgrade met with me and showed me around for a few hours. We spent quite a bit of time walking around the Belgrade fortress which was bathed in beautiful late afternoon light. I wish I would have had a bit more time to explore the city, but sometimes I just don’t have enough time for everything.
The next morning, I started fairly early and drove the last bit to the border with Romania. As you can imagine, I was getting quite excited as this was basically the half way mark of my entire trip and my long time dream of driving from the Middle East to Romania was coming true.
The border crossing was a bit anti-climatic as the border post is super small and without much going on. The Romanian custom guys were fairly surprised I drove all the way there and they asked me quite a few questions about the trip. Once in Romania, I called my dad who was supposed to meet me in Timisoara, a city about 60km from the border. We were planning on spending a couple of days driving together towards my home town. We met about an hour later and together we went to my grandmother who lives in Timisoara. After such a long trip, it’s always nice to have a bit of family time!
We spent the night in Timisoara and then the next morning we headed North-East towards the Apuseni Mountains and a small village called Ocisor where my mom’s family comes from. The village is very traditional with a beautiful old wooden church right at the entrance of the village.
From there we moved towards Alba Iulia, an important city in the history of Romania where in 1918, Transylvania was united with the Kingdom of Romania. The city fortress has been beautifully restored and the whole place was perfect for walking around for a couple of hours.
After spending the night here, the next day we drove to Sibiu, yet another city full of history, which has also had its centre completely renovated. Sibiu is famous for being a cultural centre and in 2007 was designated as the European Cultural Capital for that year. From there we paid a quick visit to an uncle who lives close by in a town called Avrig. Again, this was a place I hadn’t seen in many years and my uncle didn’t let us go before giving us a few bottles of some very strong home made liqueur called “Palinca”.
From Sibiu, we started crossing the mountains towards my home town (which is called Targu-Jiu) taking a beautiful windy road which has recently become the highest road in Romania reaching 2100m. We reached home quite late in the evening, fairly tired, but very happy and grateful for making a long time dream come true.