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That was the start of our Transylvania Trek. Our chosen charity for this trek was one incredibly close to our hearts – Terrence Higgins Trust, who had provided amazing support and care to our own Steven McKenzie over the last few years, so the team were eager to not only test themselves but also to give back to a very worthy cause.
Little was known to the group about this part of the world but it was nothing a quick google search couldn’t fix. Quickly we found out we would be hiking across the third largest mountain range in Europe but also the “birthplace of Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and “the habitat for the largest European populations of brown bears, wolves and lynxes” – Perfect!
Day one saw an early rise to get to Heathrow and, once landed, a long and arduous coach trip to our accommodation which was made somewhat more pleasant by the incredible views Romania had to offer. Upon arrival an astonishing view from the hotel terrace made the perfect setting for our first taste of local cuisine at dinner before most of us took advantage of an early night ahead of our first day of trekking.
The first hike saw us tackle a 6am start (we work hard at Allen Lane but this was definitely a struggle for most) and 2hrs of difficult ascent before reaching a beautiful traditional Romania church and religious cave. Camaraderie had been high on the trip so far so this lay off was a beautiful opportunity for us to strengthen the challenge for one particularly “confident” colleague by filling his bag with rocks – all’s fair right? A further 2 hour ascent proved tough for most but was rewarded by astounding views, to which most celebrated with a photoshoot of course, and a rest under the autumn sun.
Job done (we thought) but oh how wrong we were as the descent proved even trickier – steep, unstable and deceptively tough on the legs – but we all made it safe and sound to the bottom to be greeted by another fantastic site – a pub. The group took their first sweet sip of legendary Romanian beer , Ursus Retro (which to Liam’s dismay is not sold anywhere in the UK) and soaked in the snow capped mountains around us after a very successful, but tough, first day.
Day three saw us tasked with a longer (9 hours!), slower but equally challenging trek where the views were, again, spectacular. And just like that the trekking was complete, 15hrs over two days, thousands of kilometres ascended and everybody returning to the hotel intact.
For our final evening in Romania, we treated ourselves to dinner and a night out in the local town of Brasov, which I’ll refrain from explaining too much –apart from the undisputed highlight being Tim Salmon, fresh from his successful debut DJ Set on our coach journey, plucking up the courage to take to the decks in a local club – being kicked off very promptly. DJ Salmon would have to wait for his headline shot.
Before heading back the next day we managed a swift tour around the home of Dracula, Brann’s Castle, led by our trekking guide-turned-Romanian Historian, Florin, before heading to the airport to say our goodbyes and board the plane home.
Overall, a fantastic trip to an underappreciated part of Europe that raised over £10,000 for the wonderful Terrence Higgins Trust; a hearty success for a very worthy cause and views that would stay etched into our minds forever.
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