Once again we are in Apuseni Mountains! The plan was to visit the Ramet Gorges. We knew the weather was going to be hot and we thought this could be a good place to take refuge. What we were to do there remained to be seen on the spot. It was the first time with no plans, no predetermined routes or carefully studies maps.
In order to get to the Ramet Monastery you must take a road from Teius that takes you inside the Trascau Mountains. It is recently paved, so there are no problems getting there. The monastery dates back from the 14th century and is one of the oldest in Transilvania. Nowadays, many parts have been renovated and it was extended, but the old church can still be visited. The setting is picturesque. Cliffs which resemble the spines of some prehistoric animals rise on both sides of the valley. These form the so-called Monastery Gorges, one of the many reservations in the area.
The first time we reached these places we were following a circuit of the climbing places in Apuseni. Our guidebook brought us here, where we found tall limestone crags with numerous sportclimbing and multi-pitch climbing routes. The landscape really impressed us and we promised ourselves we would return. Back then, we only got to take a short hike through the Ramet Gorges, but not all the way to the end. We had no idea what we were missing.
This time we decided that we must discover what is on the other side. On our first night here, we slept outside, right under the starry sky. The next day we drove our car as close to the gorges as possible. We passed by the Ramet Chalet and by many vacation homes. We found a parking place, we took out our backpacks and we set off, anxious to see what we would find. A year ago, when we crossed the gorges, we had to get inside the waist deep water. There are some steel steps mounted above the water level, but only to a certain point. Then, the cables which at times are broken or missing, don’t really help you. But we cooled down and it was a lot of fun. Now we were unsure of what to do because the water was even higher and very cloudy due to the recent floods. We knew that there was a touristic trail above the gorges. It’s a good thing we found it. The hike was beyond our expectations. The narrow and steep path gave us an exceptional view and a completely new perspective over the gorges. We descended at the end of the reservation and reunited with the other route.
Shortly after, we reached a real live village museum. Some time ago, there was a small settlement here, called Cheia. Today, it is deserted. There is only one house left that is still inhabited by an old lady which we saw when we passed by. Besides it, most of the houses are invaded by weed and nettles. Here and there, right by the forest, one can see something that resembles a large haystack. That is actually another house. This is how the traditional cottages are built here, short and with a large hay roof. We entered some of them. Others, we just circled. Some are still in pretty good shape, some are already ruins. When there were people living here, they even had a church. Now the few graves in its yard are covered with vegetation. These were probably the last inhabitants. There was also a school here, in a very small building on which we found two maps of the area that guided us further on. A river flows between the houses and we had to cross it several times on these small wooden footbridges, build out of a single trunk. The villagers in Cheia had neither electricity, nor a road. The only access they had to civilization was a path through the forest that goes up to the next small settlement. It took us about an hour to get there. Visiting Cheia was like a journey to the past. The people here lived just as they did five centuries ago. They survived out of the few animals they bred and they also hunted. What impressed us the most was seeing that old house at the end that was still lived in. I wonder how that old lady must feel, knowing that she is the last one in a village where everyone has gone or left, one by one, and their houses will soon disappear and this place will be forgotten.
On our way to the next village, we saw a house down in the valley. We took a better look. An old lady was just coming out, with a huge bag on her shoulder and began to climb the slope to the path she was going to walk on for almost an hour until she would meet someone.
After a very pleasant walk through the woods, we arrived in Bradesti. Right before the first houses we had to leave the forest and get on a pasture. That is when we realized how hot it really was. The village has very few houses and a church in the center. If it wasn’t for this, I would have believed they were just some isolated buildings. There was even a small shop were we had a juice and discovered some other touristic routes that go towards the main attractions in Apuseni. We will come back some other time to visit them as well.
From Bradesti we walked for about 7 kilometers on a very beautiful country road that took us to the village of Ramet, another one with scattered houses with hay roofs. We are now above the Ramet Gorges. Ahead, we can see the unmistakeable rock formations that climb up from the Monastery Gorges.
We knew that there was a small road that went down to the Monastery. We also knew that behind the Ramet Chalet and up the hills, there was another isolated village, Valea Uzei. We looked down and we saw some houses and a church tower through the trees. So we continued in that direction. Valea Uzei doesn’t have roads that are accessible to normal cars and the whole village is in a slope. There are only paths between the “haystacks” that continue to delight us. The church is of course in the center, on a small piece of straight land. The gate was open and we entered and took a look around.
We finally reached the Ramet Chalet after a pretty long descent. From here we had to walk all the way back to our car. We weren’t expecting to get so far or see such beautiful places. This is a reminder that successful trips can be accomplished without any planning at all. We only wanted to see where we would get to.
The next day we decided to head to Fagaras Mountains. But this is another story.
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