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There and Back Again - An EV's Tale (Part IV - Romania)

As mentioned at the end of Part III, we arrived at the border with Romania with a little trepidation, having left our car registration papers in Ireland.





While we had feared that we could experience this after driving all this way, in the end, when asked to provide the "Auto-Papiere", we gave the old school homework answer: "We forgot them", after which the questions were straightforward, akin to this (though the border guard was far better-groomed!):


For the record, our favourite colour is green - naturally! As of the day of writing (9th Sept 2023), the Rugby World Cup has started, with Ireland playing Romania first up. Having crossed the border, there is a new motorway, the A1, well serviced by Rompetrol stations with charging infrastructure.


Whereas in other countries, we were often the only car charging at a time, in Romania, it seems the infrastructure is even less utilised, as this picture indicates - this van and trailer were happily parked, blocking access to all the charging spots.

Five minutes later the driver emerged from the shop, surprised that someone actually needed to use these new-fangled chargers. After he moved off, we were able to charge up at the Rompetrol e-charge station without any issues, while we had coffee and the girls haggled with us over which overpriced toys they wanted from the shop.


Timisoara

We decided we would overnight in Timisoara, which is just over 100km from the border.

Timisoara's claim to fame is that it was the first European city to adopt electric street lighting, cities at that time used gas lighting. Electrifying the street lighting put the so-called "glimmer men" out of work, the men who went around lighting the gas lamps, who I imagine were paradoxically 'de-lighted' by the switch. Electrification of street lighting seems so logical, as does the electrification of transport to EV adoptees.

In that vein, we love this ad from Renault from 12 years ago:



EV Hotels

Having charged up at the Rompetrol e-charge point, we departed for our destination, the Hotel Spa Ice Resort in Timisoara, which we booked because they had a great outdoor pool. We learned they had electric charge points available, which you could use for a flat fee of ca. €15. So, you can park overnight and charge up cheaply.

We learned the lesson to always check in advance, as there are many hotels that offer either cheap or free charging, and we also discovered the EV Hotels App, which for a nominal fee of €2.99, finds you hotels with EV chargers, which can save you a lot of money on charging fees.


At our hotel, the receptionist said that they didn't get too many EVs - and this was evident in again seeing the EV reserved spots partially taken up by ICE Vehicles. The hotel had installed a foldable barrier to reserve at least one of the spots!


Sibiu - We See You


Fully recuperated from the longest leg of our trip, we decided to take our time travelling across Romania, and chose to make Unesco-listed Sibiu our next overnight stop. Sibiu is famed for its' architecture of its' roofs "The Eyes of Sibiu" and coincidentally, Frank McNally was in Sibiu and had written about it in the Irish Times the day we arrived. We had been following his Irishman's diary, his article about Cluj, capital of Transylvania stood out - "a gleaming, modern, well-run city that could have been in German or Switzerland, except that people were friendlier". (Frank, LinkedIn request from the same day still pending, had hoped to meet you in Sibiu for a coffee!).

Side-Eye in Sibiu

The Three-Eyed Raven?

Carpathian Mountains

The most challenging drive of our journey was from Sibiu into Bucharest, there were no issues with charging infrastructure, but with the mountain road, as the A1 motorway is not finished. It is estimated that the A1 motorway all the way to Constanta will be completed in May, 2027, which will be transformational for freight transport across Romania from the Black Sea. But for now, the mountain road was crowded with trucks and we experienced our own "Duel" moment with a very pushy truck driver. (Movie buffs will know "Duel" as Steven Spielberg's directorial debut from 1971, a thriller about a truck menacing a car). The completion of the A1 can't come soon enough!


Speaking of looking for a fight, we encountered this MOL charge-point on our route, which looked less interested in providing a charging experience and more like it was either about to nunchuck us, or tell us to put down our smartphone, giving us 20 seconds to comply.

"Come at me, Bro!"

So, apart from "Duel", we were not stressed by range anxiety, even having the serendipity of finding this LOTR reference along the way.

One does not simply walk into Bucharest

Bucharest Therme

At this juncture, we should say that the temperatures in Romania were well above 30 degrees. We had been driving the car throughout Europe with the A/C on, with the ID4, the car is intelligent enough to continuously re-calculate your expected range, and wherever you have input a destination, will re-calibrate and schedule a charging stop where it determines you won't have sufficient charge to safely reach your destination.


In Bucharest, we decided to cool down by spending the day at the Bucharest Therme, which is a fabulous facility with indoor and outdoor pools, and a LEED* Platinum building, so with our work hats on, we had a perfect excuse to spend the day there! (*Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design). The Therme has done exactly what we posted in Part I that Disneyland Paris should do, and have EV charging stations in the parking area, as guests typically spend the whole day there. We need to point out that we were unable to get these working, as were other EV drivers - and no-one at reception knew how they worked!



Bucharest to Constanta


Ana had identified that there was a lengthy dead zone for charging infrastructure of 200km after Bucharest to Constanta, so we needed to charge up fully before leaving Bucharest. We experienced a number of different issues finding a working fast-charger - firstly, our navigation system directed us down roads that were closed off and inaccessible; the EON Charge-point wouldn't work for us at another service station despite a helpful attendant; the next charge-point we were directed to was inside a private commercial premises - and didn't appear set up for public charging. All the while, driving around Bucharest is quite stressful for the uninitiated. Fortunately, we found a super-fast POWER charger at the OMV station on the motorway, which was easy to use as a guest, similar to with IONITY.


The Road to Constanta

Despite the charging infrastructure dead-zone, the road was quite pleasant, with fields of sunflowers brightening the roadside, as well as a number of large-scale wind farms visible in the distance.




Arriving into Constanta, we passed an extremely long queue of trucks for the port, many of which will have made the perilous mountain journey - we wondered whether our friend "Duel" was among them?



Arrived!

So, after nearly 4000km, we had arrived at our destination in Eforie Nord, a popular tourist destination on the Black Sea, which would be our home for the next 6 weeks.

Though we didn't see many EVs on our journey through Romania, we did capture this photo of a pair of white-crested Teslas at play in Eforie Nord. Nature finds a way!









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