I will try to respect the timeline of my travels in my posts – even though the events I am about to describe happened almost two months ago. Which is why I will tell you guys about this time when my friend from Cluj-Napoca, took me to the middle of nowhere, to this place called “Geoagiu-Bai”, in Hunedoara county, Romania.
Your casual village, in the mountains
Funny story, I was just in my first week back to Cluj-Napoca, after I spontaneously quitted my job and decided to travel. I thought at first it would be very easy to work the rest of my two-weeks notice at the hostel while also covering the cleaning shifts I’ve had. Oh, how wrong I was.
I didn’t even fully comprehend the decision I just took and I was already working my ass off, trying to complete two very different jobs every day while also trying to stay sane. I won’t lie, I’ve loved and hated every minute of it. As exhausting as it was the challenge that came with it really made me feel alive and satisfied. I know it sounds a bit of a masochist thing to say, but l did end up choosing to do all that.
Moving on to the moment when my new friend from Cluj-Napoca, Georgi, stormed into the room I was currently cleaning and making it look pretty and nice for the next guests that were about to check in. She looked as exhausted as me – well, shit. We exchanged a few looks and I think we both realized that we need to get out of that hostel and have a long break (as much as we loved being there!). She then proposed to me to join her at her parent’s house in Geoagiu-Bai – I just looked at her blankly and just said a mechanical “yes”, without any idea where that place is. I couldn’t even pronounce that name properly.
She helped me finish my tasks, we then went to our manager and said we were leaving (we sort of had the week off from the hostel). Her awesome parents came and picked us up and to be honest, we were both so exhausted that neither one of us can remember that whole trip. I remember some road signs and eating pancakes in the car. Now that I think of, if I end up being kidnapped and if they end up feeding me I won’t be very reliable.
I ended up in, what can be described as one very large roundabout surrounded by trees, houses, and hotels, from which other streets were going up and down. Geoagiu-Bai is actually a village built on top of some mesothermal mineral waters reserves. Or, my favorite one, the village is actually on the top of a giant’s underground cave, according to my friend’s father. There is also natural springs all over the place from where you can get free water (which also stinks like rotten eggs). It really is drinkable, I have tried it – but it is not for me. I don’t like bubbles into my water.
Despite the water and such, it truly is a little gem in the middle of nowhere. And only 2h drive from Cluj-Napoca as well. Obviously, we were exhausted so we sort of lingered the first few days and didn’t do much. We eat a lot though.
Germisara cum thermis
This is not a dirty reference, you perverts. The Geoagiu Baths used to be also known (in Latin) as „Thermae Germisara“ or „Germisara cum thermis“. According to my good friend, Wikipedia, a very long time ago this place was filled with Dacians and based on the name they gave to the place, “Germisara” , which means “hot water” (germi = “heat”, sara = “waterfall”), they knew very well about the thermal waters. Thanks, wiki!
We walked around the village and she showed me around, where she grew up and used to hang out with her friends and so on. When my friend mentioned we are going to see some Roman ruins I was expecting something more extraordinary in size, but it turned out to be a magnificent hole in the ground, filled with history.
I did want at some point to become an archeologist (and it wasn’t because of all the Indian Jones movies) so maybe this is why I am always so fascinated by buildings filled with history and ruins. When I am in places like this, I like to imagine how people would’ve walked around the area, how they were using the wall as back support – just chilling and talking, how the ladies of the time would’ve had parts of their dresses brushing the ground in smooth movements and how the kids would be running and jumping into the pool, and so on. When I got there I was so mesmerized by the colors and the structure, but I was also sad at the same time that, unfortunately, the place hasn’t been maintained. I guess in a way there is a beauty of keeping the place in ruins… but what do I know.
The elves waterfall / Rivendell of Romania
Yes, I am a geek.
When I first arrived at “Clocota Waterfall” the first thing that crossed my mind was: “Oh man, I am in Rivendell!!!”. For those of you reading this and don’t know the reference, please watch Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit because I will most likely keep referencing them in my posts.
Joke aside, it truly is a beautiful spot and it is completely worth visiting. It is not so far from the village either. In warm days you can even go and have a bath or just stay barefoot in the water. At the spot by the waterfall you are pretty much surrounded by trees and nature and hearing the water falling, it is just incredibly serene. Worth mentioning, though, is that there is this street that goes down from the village to this waterfall spot and honestly, going back to the village by going up on it, was like my own personal hell. I am pretty sure my lungs quit their job that day.
Cheile Madei (Mada’s Gorge)
I never heard about this place – same as I never heard about Geoagiu – and I am Romanian. When I arrived in Mada’s village (very close to Geoagiu) was when I fully realized how many beautiful and unexplored places we have in our country. I knew how beautiful Romania can be but for me, it was surreal to reach this spot. I was absorbing the beauty of the place like a sponge.
We took the car to get to this place and my friend, Georgi, has been there before in the past. Her father threw some instructions to us before we left but we still ended up derping around with the car. The village itself is very small and it is at a lower altitude than Geoagiu-Bai. So, anyway, we kept on driving on what she remembered to be the road until we reached a point where we were supposed to park the car. However, hearing the symphony of loud barking noises that were waiting on the road we were supposed to take, made us both reconsider and we tried, instead, going with the car a bit further. Fascinated by the beauty of the place (and the narrowness of the street we were driving on) we kept on going and going until there was nowhere to go by car. The street was so freaking narrow that we didn’t even have enough space to turn the car around. What followed was a mix of my friend stressing out to turn the car around, in an orchard where some baby trees were planted, without destroying any of them nor the car, and me laughing my ass off and taking pictures of the landscape while trying to point her correctly.
We eventually got out of that place and just parked the car a bit further away. It was rather late so we didn’t have enough time at our disposal to do a full hike as it was getting dark soon. So we kept on walking through the orchard until we reached a small river bed. We kept on walking by and through the river and we pretty much just enjoyed the silence and nature itself. Georgi told me that depending on the rain season, the water can get as high as up to your ankles or at times, even above knee level. We were lucky to have the water only a bit over our ankles that day.
After our exploration, by the river and through the mountains, we’ve decided after an hour or so to return to the orchard and just relax and change our completely wet socks, with the remaining light before the sunset.
If you ever are anywhere around Geoagiu-Bai, I highly recommend making a stop or a detour and exploring this area. There are so many other places around here I have heard but didn’t have the time to explore it myself.
Even though most of the time while I was there I had no idea where that place was on the map or what would be the correct pronunciation, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I am really grateful to her and her family for welcoming me into this tiny green paradise for a week.