Romania Stories and Tips

Dammed but not damned

Camping on the Romanian-Serbian border Photo, Romania, Europe

Several days in to our Go Gorillas hitch hiking expedition from Poland to Greece and having been fiddling around with small rides in a group of three in Hungary, we found ourselves making up on time and absolutely raced through Romania. In fact, we crossed the whole country in about 9 hours, initially we planned to stay in Timisoara but after picking up a ride directly from Oradea to Caransebes, we decided to press on for the 120 or so kilometres to the Serbian border crossing slightly north of the Romanian town Drobeta Turnu-Severin.

Having sped along a winding and weaving road that followed the Danube, we were dropped off in heavy rain at the border crossing with a big sign saying Portile de Fieri which translates to Iron Gate. In fact, there are two Iron Gate Power Stations stretching across this wide part of the Danube that act as part of a dam built in 1972 to slow down the Danube.

The border looks like it gets quite a lot of traffic and there's a parking bay made out for queues of cars, in fact it reminded me a bit of the port in Dover. It certainly wasn't busy when we were there though, two dogs were snuggled between border cubicles out of the rain, a border guard approached us and asked to see our passports and then told us that there was no issue with crossing the border except for the fact that we needed a car, he then urged us to come out of the rain and wait under a shelter. Mystified by our hitch hiking, he spoke pretty good English and couldn't quite work out why we were hitch hiking when cars were so cheap in England.

After thirty minutes or so, a Bulgarian car turned up at the border that was heading in to Serbia, and the border guard asked him to drive us the 1km over the dam
the man in a small van didn't particularly want to take us and begrudgingly began making space in the front seats of his van for us. It is common practice for the border guards to lump you together with anyone crossing the border, so you needn't worry about it too much if hitchhiking over this border. I love crossing Romanian borders, another interesting one is Calarasi to Silistra in Bulgaria, scenic, relaxed and the border guards are fantastically friendly.

Travelling across the top of the Danube on a dam road seemed rather James Bondesque, the natural surroundings are fantastic and both sides of the border have lots to offer the nature lover. Dundap in Serbia, in particular is a fascinating part of the country, the Danube is at its widest throughout the park (other than the Danube Delta) and the canyon is the largest in Europe. A cycle route is marked out along a road on the Serbian side and there are maps of the region too.

Arriving on the Serbian side at night was equally quiet apart from two rather busy stray dogs that felt the need to greet us to the country with a half-assed bark. Just as well someone was there because we couldn't actually find the border guards at first who appeared to be sat in a rather smoky room watching football. Still raining and dark, we asked them if we could camp by the border and they just shrugged and said of course, so we put up our tents metres away from the border, perhaps a bit too nonchalantly as we discovered in the morning that we had camped just metres away from an innocent looking bush which had actually become a makeshift toilet for certain truckers.

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