Romanian natural beauty is well-represented in the Eastern Carpathians, but so is the local tourist industry
Even though we have some four weeks for Romania, we cannot expect to see everything in the entire country, it is simply too big, and there is too much to do. One place we don’t want to miss, however, is the Bicaz Gorge and the Ceahlau Massif, perhaps the most picturesque mountains of Romania.
The Ceahlau Massif is a fairly accessible mountain complex in the Eastern Carpathians, with a couple of well-marked tracks from the base, the village of Izvorul Muntelui, to the top at just over 1900 meters. Old and unfit as we are, we turn around after a couple of hours, without reaching the top, instead opting for the comfort of our simple, but pleasant cabana in Izvorul, with balcony view of the mountains – and home-distilled tuica to clarify the view. Izvorul lives from cabanas.
The next day we drive up to the Bicaz Gorge, indeed a very narrow crack in the mountains, flanked by steep walls, permanently in the shade. Wherever there is space to stop, entrepreneurs have set up their stalls with tourist trinkets – the gorge is obviously a very popular spot. This is confirmed a little further west, where we arrive at the Lacu Rosu, the Red Lake.
There is really not a lot to it, this lake, not much more than a shallow pond, really, but the place has been thoroughly developed, hotels and restaurants, and a string of food stalls – most demand is for some type of Hungarian sweet-tasting bread, cooked on demand and really nice. The lake itself is full of rowing boats, rented out by the hour.
At the other end of the gorge is Bicaz Lake, a quite sizable artificial lake behind a hydro-electric dam, perhaps far more suited for boat trips, yet almost abandoned. There is a bit of traffic on the lake, and plenty tourist infrastructure, but somehow people prefer the smaller pond.
Unfortunately, the day is not very bright, dark clouds have been accumulating for a while and rain starts falling, affecting not only the photos, but also our plans for a walk into a smaller valley, away from the many tourists. You cannot win them all.
Next: to Bucovina, yet another Romanian highlight