Anna, the Mom
Our last road trip in Romania this year was to Bucegi National Park, a protected area featuring the famous Babele and the Sphinx rock formations.
We enjoyed the ride to the trail towards the Babele, the roads in this park are very good, well maintained. People were parking their cars on the road before the available parking lots and were taking the higher path across the top of the mountain. We were tempted to do the same, but we thought that we didn't have much time at hand so we decided to go to the parking lot. A lot of people drove up to the parking lot that day so we barely found a spot.
Once we got on the main trail we decided to take the higher path to visit a smaller rock formation, similar to Babele (Old Women). The boys gave them the pet name of Moșii (Old Folks). The view from there is amazing all around - the mellow, rounded peaks, covered in a rough, tangled grass that felt as soft as a very thick carpet to our feet, would gradually turn into abrupt slopes that would then deepen into valleys guarded by cliffs and more mellow slopes covered in juniper shrubs. It was a beautiful, clear fall day and the contrast between the drying slopes and the evergreen of the shrubs was lovely to behold.
The beauty of the landscape all around was our constant companion as we arrived at Babele, a rock formation on the Bucegi Mountains Plateau. The name Babele (Old Women) given to these rocks sculpted by rain and wind into a group of boulders is fun, it did made me think of old women huddling together to whisper gossip into each other's ears.
Not far from the Babele, a little bit higher up on the plateau we got to the Sphinx, a very large rock shaped by the elements in the image of the Egyptian sphinx. Again, it wasn't just the interesting rock that impressed but also the beauty of the landscape all around. Large boulders were scattered all over the place and looked like stepping stones for giants in a huge, dried up river bed. People were resting on these boulders or just sitting on them enjoying the scenery.
After we had something to eat and a good rest, we still had a good portion of the day to spend. From the Sphinx, we could see in the distance the Comemorative Cross to the Heroes of the First World War on Caraiman Peak. A bunch of people were hiking the trail towards the cross both on the top of the plateau and from the base of the peak where the monument was set up. We decided to make the last leg of the hike to the Cross, the day was so beautiful, it would have been a pity not to do it.
We had two options to get to the Cross, the hike on the high ground or from the lower ground. The adults in our group didn't really mind any of the two paths although we preferred the one going the higher ground on the saddle between the peaks which was so much gentler and easier to do. But we let the kids have a say in choosing the path. To our surprise, the kids insisted on going down the trail that takes us down to the base of the peak and then makes the climb on the slope to the cross.
In vain we have tried to make them change their minds. They wanted to go on the more difficult path, so we let them have their own way telling them that we have to stick with the choice they made to the end, even though it will get rough. While walking I was wondering in my mind why did they choose the more difficult path? Could it be that at the beginning of the two paths, one started with a climb upwards and the other with a climb down? It was easier to start climbing down, that's for sure. The climb down looked more exciting than the other more levelled one. It looked like more people climbed the peak from its base than climbing down to it from the higher ground. It also looked as a faster route to the cross.
Anyways, as soon as we started our climb to the peak, the boys soon regretted their choice. The path was steep and there was a deep chasm opening up on one side of it which we once or twice had to pass holding on to chains pinned to the cliff and stepping on ledges narrower than the sole of our feet.
From time to time the kids would see small memorial crosses of adventurers who lost their lives there. They have tried doing what we were doing in the winter or in very harsh conditions. Anyways it was enough to impress our boys and make them very quiet and thoughtful. You can guess what trail they wanted to take on our way back. The trail of the cross, as we affectionately referred to it afterwards, was much easier on the higher ground. Not so nerve wrecking but more pleasant and happier even. That was a thought provoking experience for us, as a family. The trail of the cross will forever be etched in our memories.
In Bucegi National Park, our first objective was to visit the curiously shaped boulders known as the Babe (in translation, "old women", which were often associated with gossip) and then visit the giant cross on Piatra Caraiman which was a "short" hike (lies and slander) away from the Babe.
When we got out of the car in the crowded parking lot, we took in the fresh mountain air and since we had no time to waste, immediately went to the path leading to the Babe.
After a few minutes on the path, we decided to use the little-known trail that was not only longer than the one on which everyone was going but also visited the curiously shaped smaller boulder that we called the Moși (or old men).
After a short snack at the Moși, we continued on the trail and after about fifteen minutes arrived at the Babe.
After resting and staring, we decided to visit the Romanian Sphinx, which was nearby. The Sphinx is a giant rock that has the advantage of looking disturbingly similar with the sphinx in Egypt (from a certain angle), and even has a whole nose!
We had some soup and pork chop at the restaurant nearby and decided to go to the cross. Our mom, dad, and grandpa wanted to go on the path up the mountain, on a gigantic plateau, and then down to the cross. Paul and I wanted to go down into a valley and climb up to the cross and so we did. Not a good idea, as it turned out. A few minutes into the trail, and we had to cross a gigantic pit that had inconveniently opened up right on the trail and then continued.
On the path to the cross, we discovered that there was a very narrow trail leading up the mountain and gigantic pits on one side. After a gruelling climb, we finally got to the top and looked at the giant cross.
After staying there for a while, we went back using the trail which our elders had suggested (which was much easier), even though an annoying helicopter kept flying around and making lots of noise.
Bucegi National Park is:
The huge pits looming on the side of the trail;
The sound of the annoying helicopter flying around;
The savoury pork chop waiting to be eaten;
The giant metal cross standing on the cliffside;
The Babe crouching above the restaurant.
I would go again to the Cross on the easier path and do the way back on the hard one.
On our last visit to Romania, we needed a vacation, a vacation in the mountains where we could hike to our heart's content. Even though we had hiked a great deal we were not satisfied so we went to Bucegi National Park.
Babele is a natural formation of stone that looks like mushrooms even though they are called "The Old Women."
The Sphinx is another rock formation that looks from one angle suspiciously like the Sphinx from Egypt except it has a nose!!!!
Crucea Caraimanului is a large metal cross on a cliff, hundreds of feet above sea level, yikes.
When we arrived at the National Park the parking lot was absolutely crowded. This Park is very famous. A real traveler has to go there at least once in his lifetime. Luckily we found a spot and went on our way. We decided to go up on the mountain since the path there was less crowded and it led directly to the "Old Men", a formation of rocks that looked almost exactly like the Babe, only they are smaller.
When we arrived at the Babe we admired them then went to the Sphinx. Luckily it still had its nose.
After a while, we ate at a small restaurant and then we saw Crucea Caraimanului in the distance. Right then and there we decided to go there. We had two options: the easy path or the hard path. Of course like any other normal and sane people we chose the hard path. This decision was not the best idea since every now and then a ravine opened up on the side of the road making it even harder.
Finally, we had done it, we had conquered the trail and we were rewarded with the sight of an annoying helicopter making tons of noise.
The Bucegi National Park is for me:
The loud helicopter zooming around the mountain.
The hot steak on the platter in the restaurant.
The solid figure of the Sphinx forever frozen in place.
The tough, dry grass under my boots.
The clouds zooming back and forth through the heavens.