Starting from Brasov and following the highway alongside the river Olt, then crossing the chic city of Fagaras with its fortress, you get to a roundabout near the locality Cartza, where you can take to the left road if you want to go to the mountains´ range. After a few kilometers away only, you come in a cool valley along the river, and then the road lays forward in spectacular serpentines to Balea Waterfall. Here the tourist can make a stop at the restaurant, or take a ride on the tourist trail until near the waterfall. A flood of water flows into the void from somewhere above the cliffs, creating deafening tumult around, which rises to the peaks that seem to float among misty clouds. Both the air stream formed by the body of water rolling down the cliffs and the drifting drops refresh you with invigorating energy. It is a fascinating spectacle offered by Mother Nature on the mountains´ stage.
Back in the little resort, if you take the cable car, you will be mesmerized by the lovely panorama which runs beneath, or, if you travel by car, you can drive up the road that winds like a ribbon through the rocky spurs, having on the left the haughty stone chest of the slope, while on the right, both an endless valley is opening, and the opposite slope that seems to float in the mist from place to place. The striking view of the valley delights the eyes of the tourist, which glide on every crag that emerge through the trees stinging bravely the blue ocean of the sky.
Here, in the reign of the mountain, you protrude the nature´s soul and the spirit of the millennial stone, equally fascinated by the multitude of magical images as beautiful as a summer dream. Steep walls open the way to the abyss, precipices of different shapes, one more dizzying than another, with forms continuously changing with the passage of time, ranging from one season to another both the elegant white, green or gray costume of the mountain, and the myriad shades of the blue infinite sky.
At Balea Lac, your eyes will enjoy both the unique picturesque landscape and the transparent water of the lake situated on the top of the mountain. Tourists from all nations take photographs, videos; admire the gulf that opens on the north side with the road crawling like a snake through the rocks, and the fog that climbs the steep like experienced alpinists. The lake is surrounded on the east side by the barren ridges of the mountain range. There are a hotel and a restaurant rather special here, which enters the lake waters as a lacustrine building. Indigenous trout frolic in the clear water with greenish hues. Here, on the border between dominant mountainous ridges and the infinite blue sky, the weather often becomes whimsical and the gusts of wind, the noise of this roaring valley, the echoing thunder, the lightning which trickle like luminous serpents on the rocks, fierce clouds that pour torrential rain in summer or sudden winter blizzards, all of them depict paintings that pass you from horror to enchanting, just in front of your eyes. Sometimes, when the sky is clear, the sun seems to approach the stone foreheads of the massive closer and closer.
In recent years, once the white season is settled here, at Balea Lac, it has got customary to be constructed an Ice Hotel and a Church made of Balea Lake ice blocks.
From Balea Lake you can cross the mountain from Ardeal (Transilvania), passing by the edge of the mountain through a tunnel, to the other side, to the county of Arges. If you do so, you are met by the bald peaks and the embroidered contour of the Carpathian crests. With its highest peaks: Moldoveanu and Negoiu, which dominate both Transilvania and The Old
Kingdom (also called Walachia or Tzara Romaneasca), the Fagaras Massif is the biggest in the country. The peaks of this range of mountains, which raise their majesty over the clouds, are going to accompany you, watching over your tour from faraway. A fairytell land of white and gray clouds, dropping their misty curtains over your steps, but letting little blue spots of the sky to caress your sight by sending you magical sun rays, all of these and much more is the Kingdom of Fagaras Mountains. Here up, at just a step to the sky, everything is complex, a conglomerate of clouds, mist, rocks, small trees and sky, creating by their lack of uniformity a harmonious view.
Tumultuous waterfalls, whose clamor is propagated in hectic waves to the crests, wait for your descending at the foot of the mountain, to enchant your eyes with their water streams hitting the rocky spurs.
So, once you leave the barren heights, you protrude the beauty of the Keys of Arges. Here the road glides along the rocky steep, while a deep valley widens down on the other side. The haughty peaks of Fagaras remain somewhere above, once the car enters the fir-tree forest bordering a magnificent accumulation lake, so, after enough driving, you reach Vidraru Barrage. The bottom of the valley comes out like a little stream finding its way through the mountains, if you dare to have a look from the top of this barrage, in the form of a bow and with a breathtaking height. You will enjoy every single moment and wonder how people could work at such a dizzying height. Men look like ants looked down from such a height. But there are so many other barrages of this sort in Romania, built during the euphemistically called “The Golden Age”, which people today consider and name “The Age of the Hideous One” (referring to Ceausescu, the communist dictator).
In the meantime, driving down along the left slope, you get to the Fortress of Poenary that served as a second residence city to Vlad the Empaler (Tzepes). Later on, continuing your journey to Curtea de Arges City, you have the unique opportunity to visit the monastery with the most beautiful church in Romania, built during the reign of Negru Voda (Black Voievode) by the legendary Master Manole, who, according to the legend, had to build his own wife, Ana, in order to give the building eternal endurance, as he had dreamt one night, to prevent that everything his team had built during the day to get destroyed during the night, as it had been happening for a while. The legend says that after he had put his wife in the wall, the church ceased to collapse and remained steady. But, when the architectural masterpiece was finished, the Voivode ordered that their scaffold should be destroyed, and Manole remained on the top with its team. He and his workers made shingle wings and jumped. The place where Manole had fallen, a beautiful refreshing stream sprang, as a reward of his honesty and faithfulness, while on the place the workers had fallen, only thorns sprang, because they had worn their families not to visit them. A fountain is arranged on the place of the spring, called Manole Fountain. Inside the monastery, there are the relics of Saint Filofteia, to which hundreds of people come daily to pray for health, help, or to find salvation.
From now on, our journey leads to Valcea, my homeland, but this is another story. (Foto Google)
Author: Ion Nălbitoru
(Translated by Lia Nenciu, Romania)