– Contents –
- – Contact –
- – Author Bio –
- – Books –
- Fur Babies in France: From Wage Slaves to Living the Dream
- Dog on the Rhine: From Rat Race to Road Trip
- Dogs ‘n’ Dracula: A Road Trip Through Romania
- It Never Rains But It Paws: A Road Trip Through Politics And A Pandemic
- To Hel In A Hound Cart – Journey To The Centre Of Europe
- Pups on Piste – A Ski Season in Italy
- Fur Babies in France: From Wage Slaves to Living the Dream
- – Anthologies –
- – Sample Q&A Tip Sheet –
- – Sample Chapter –
- High Resolution Photographs –
– Contact –
I’d love to hear from you! You can contact me via the website HERE
Facebook: @JacquelineLambertAuthor / https://www.facebook.com/JacquelineLambertAuthor/
Please note that while I’m travelling, I may not always have reliable internet!
– Author Bio –
Jacqueline (Jackie) Lambert is a fanatical windsurfer, skier and northerner, who can ride a horse, fly a plane and tow a caravan. Her claims to fame are fire-eating on Japanese T.V. and sitting on a swing with World Superbike champ, Carl Fogarty – ‘The Blackburn Bullet’ – who lived across the road from her when they were both nine.
A former beer-taster and biochemist with adventure in her DNA, B.C. (Before Canines) she rafted, rock-climbed and backpacked around six continents before giving up the day job to travel full-time with her husband and four dogs. Now, she is a doggie travel blogger and author of The Adventure Caravanning with Dogs series of memoirs about her travels A.D. (After Dog).
A dedicated dabbler, Jackie loves to try new things. Her Adventure A-Z includes everything from Abseiling to Zorbing with a bit of Jousting, Stock Car Racing & Tiger Cuddling thrown in!
Click HERE to see Jackie’s Adventure A-Z –
Where is she based? When not travelling, Jackie, husband Mark and The Fab Four, Cavapoos (Cavalier King Charles/Poodle cross) Kai, Rosie, Ruby & Lani are based in Bournemouth on the sunny south coast of England.
How old?! Jackie is in her 50s until February 2024. Mark is 2 years older.
– Books –
- Genre: Road & RV Travel with Pets/Humour/Memoir
- Available: Amazon worldwide Formats: ebook & paperback; Ingram Spark and Waterstones.com paperback only
- Published By: WorldWideWalkies
- Chronology: Books 1-5 are chronological in time. While it is preferable to read them in order, each book is a stand-alone adventure.
Fur Babies in France: From Wage Slaves to Living the Dream
- What a joyful piece. Elegant, articulate and very funny! Love it.
- A nice light hearted read with a few useful tips thrown in.
- Great book, a lovely insight into how you can give up the daily grind and head off into the sunset.
- Fun Read! Very Informative! A well written, real, honest travel guide with lots of useful information.
- Laugh out loud funny and a great travel guide.
- Well written, full of bounce and fun. Click HERE to read an editorial review by award-winning author Valerie Poore on Marvellous Memoirs : Reviews and links.
- It was full of fun. Told with excitement, vibrancy, and humour – Amazon review by Julie Haigh, Goodreads Librarian and Top 1000 Amazon reviewer
Have you ever thought of giving up work and heading off into the sunset with surf boards on your roof? If you answer ‘Yes’ – or you just like dogs, caravans or travel, this book is for you.
Year 1 – Fur Babies in France follows the true story of a couple who accidentally bought a caravan – and then decided to rent out the house, sell most of their possessions and tour Europe full-time with their four dogs, Cavapoos Kai, Rosie, Ruby and Lani.
It was a steep learning curve, involving many breakages and a near-death experience. With the application of humour, find out whether they find peace and tranquillity on the back roads of France – with a bit of windsurfing thrown in!
Dog on the Rhine: From Rat Race to Road Trip
Amazon No. 1 Bestseller in ‘German Travel’ & ‘Rhine Travel’
France, Germany, The Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, U.K.
- Absorbing – I love these informative and funny books.
- An Inspirational Travelogue
- Amusing and Informative – Entertaining, amusing and informative.
- It’s not so much what she says, but the way she says it – Jacqueline has a wonderful way with words that keeps me chuckling
Jackie and Mark Lambert gave up work, accidentally bought a caravan and decided to tour in her full time with their four Cavapoos, Kai, Rosie, Ruby and Lani.
In their second year, with some actual caravanning experience under their belts, they get a bit more adventurous and cross Germany, where they take Caravan Kismet rafting on the River Neckar.
They are evicted from Austria, but on a brief bark around Bohemia and the Balkans (the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Croatia), they discover a good few places that they reckon are definite GOBs – GET ONYER BUCKETLIST!
But lest they mislead you into thinking that Livin’ the Dream is all sunshine and rainbows, their return to the UK is blighted by a huge Fidose of Reality…
Dogs ‘n’ Dracula: A Road Trip Through Romania
Winner: Chill With A Book Readers’ Premier Award 2022
Finalist: Romania Insider Awards for Most Effective Promotion of Romania Abroad 2019
France, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania
- Armchair Travel Delight – I love the writing style Ms Lambert has. It is almost as if you are sitting, enjoying coffee, while you listen to her vacation stories.
- Inspirational and hilarious
- Another great read – This is a fantastic, fabulously written series, 100% recommended.
- Romania is now very much in my sights
- Another lovely tail – Once again, once started, difficult to put down.
- A Delightful Book about the Nomad Lifestyle – Click HERE to see a review of my book about British dogs in Romania featured on a wonderful Australian travel & book website, Gum Trees and Galaxies!
- This is a very well-written and lovely book. I laughed, gasped, gazed and sighed with them throughout. Click HERE to read an editorial review by award-winning author Valerie Poore on Marvellous Memoirs: Reviews and Links.
Ever considered giving up work to escape into the wide, blue yonder?
Jackie and Mark Lambert did just that. They rented out their house and took off in a caravan with their four dogs. With windsurf boards strapped to their roof, they struck south for Spain and Portugal, but decided to turn left…
According to The Spectator, Romania is “Europe’s most overlooked holiday destination”.
According to everyone else, it was somewhere where they would be robbed, scammed, kidnapped by gypsies, eaten by bears or attacked by wild dogs and wolves – if they managed to avoid the floods and riots.
This is the story of how they towed their caravan through the largest untouched wilderness in Europe, crossing the Carpathian Mountains via one of the world’s most dangerous roads, guided by a satnav haunted by a revenge complex more pathological than Vlad the Impaler’s.
With a good few surprises on the way, Dogs ‘n’ Dracula is a tale of adventure, packed with history, humour and the exploration of lesser-known parts of one of Europe’s more obscure destinations.
Join our Adventure Caravanners as they really do ‘Boldly Go Where No Van Has Gone Before!’
It Never Rains But It Paws: A Road Trip Through Politics And A Pandemic
France, Italy (Monte Rosa, Aosta Valley, Northern Italy)
Five years after giving up work to travel full time, Dog-ma Jacqueline (Jackie) and Dogfather Mark race against time to leave the UK before Britain exits the EU. If Brexit happens, their four Cavapoos (Cavalier/Poodle cross) Kai, Rosie, Ruby, and Lani may lose their puppy passports, and the Lambert Family will be unable to travel together. But Brexit isn’t their only obstacle: a few months into their adventure, the pandemic suddenly shatters their plans, and leaves them trapped in the epicentre of Europe’s No. 1 coronavirus hotspot.
The fourth road trip Europe adventure in author Jacqueline Lambert’s “inspirational and hilarious” series of true travel memoirs invites you to join the couple as they discover even more amazing and little-known places, this time in France and Italy. However, this isn’t just a priceless escape travel story filled with humorous mishaps and mountain adventure. The coronavirus pandemic separates the family from their loved ones at home, and leaves Jackie stranded alone during a blizzard in a remote Italian village, with Mark thousands of miles away, back in the UK.
Between terrible weather, political mayhem, and a global pandemic, Jackie and Mark try to take lessons from each hardship. Yet, even with a positive attitude, a sense of adventure, and a caravan full of loved ones, you can’t stop all the obstacles life rolls your way. These “amusing and informative” travel stories are certainly proof that It Never Rains… But It Paws!
- A Great Book: “I didn’t just read a book, I learned something. I learned lots. And had some good laughs too. Great book.” Julie Haigh, Goodreads Librarian and top 1000 Amazon reviewer
- Something for Everyone: A great mix of puppies, politics and a pandemic with plenty of sightseeing thrown in. There’s something for everyone. Lisa Rose Wright, Author of the ‘Writing Home’ series
- For Lovers of Travel Memoirs: The mix of fun, humour, travel, exploits and anecdotes is lovely. A great romp through (Jackie’s) world and very entertaining. Alyson Sheldrake, Artist and Author
To Hel In A Hound Cart – Journey To The Centre Of Europe
Italy, France, Germany, The Czech Republic, Poland
“Go to Hel.”
The Polish local wasn’t being rude. She was describing Hel, Poland, a place well known for its fine beaches and windsurfing. Ever since Jackie and Mark packed themselves and four dogs into their hound cart (RV) to tour Europe, they’ve learned lessons about overcoming obstacles – much more than they ever imagined.
Soon after they left, everything they knew about travelling changed.
COVID-19 stranded them in Italy, where they were forbidden to set foot outside the garden of their rented apartment. Then, finally released from Italian lockdown, with borders closed and their own home rented out, they could not return to the UK. With only a rough idea where their wanderlust would take them, their adventures soon start stacking up. If you ever wanted to learn what full-time RV life really is like, this is the best place to start.
Join them as they navigate precipitous cliff-side roads, political unrest, and explore what it’s like to live with less, triumph over adversity, and not take things for granted.
Will they make it to Hel in a hound cart, or will that be what happens to their plans?
Reviews on Goodreads:
“Exuberant, sparkling with wit, insightes and well researched historical facts…I couldn’t put it down. It’s laugh out loud, poignant and superbly written.” Fi Kidd, Overland Adventurer
“I love the author’s wonderfully descriptive writing, so engaging I didn’t want to stop reading. I particularly enjoy all the historical detail which sends me off to read more of the places she has visited. Best of all I love her irrepressible sense of fun and witty asides which are often side splittingly funny. Not a book to read in company for fear of getting odd looks! Highly recommended.” Rebecca Hislop
“Her irrepressible sense of irreverent humour and quest for knowledge once more shine through.” Click here to see an editorial review by author Sue Bavey on her blog Sue’s Musings.
Pups on Piste – A Ski Season in Italy
Monte Rosa, Aosta Valley, Northern Italy
- A Really Fun and Interesting Book…the author gives useful skiing tips. I would definitely recommend this book!
- The descriptions of Monte Rosa are outstanding, making the book a must-have Italian travel companion or a winter sports destination to add to the bucket list.
- A thoroughly good read by a very eloquent writer
- Excellent reference book! Jackie’s story telling and informative approach has not only relieved me of some of my anxieties (about a planned trip) but really inspired me!
- Highly recommended for dog lovers, ski enthusiasts & adventurous travellers! Click HERE for an editorial review by dog & book blogger Lou on Waggy Tales
Jackie and Mark share a passion for planks. When they married, just thirty-seven weeks after they first met, their ambition was to spend a full season in the Alps.
Pups on Piste is the story of their first three months in Italy’s Monte Rosa, with their four dogs, Cavapoos (Cavalier / Poodle cross) Kai, Rosie, Ruby and Lani. A little-known resort tucked under the second highest peak in Western Europe, one ski magazine placed Monte Rosa in ‘The Top 5 Off Piste Destinations In The World.’
Once there, they get lost, stranded, conduct experiments on the edge of control and take a Back-Country Ski Course in which one instructor’s advice is, “Don’t miss the turn or you’ll go over a cliff.” Join them in legendary powder, where you will learn a multitude of invaluable lessons about skiing, winter walkies, the revenge of the snow chains, surviving a Viking invasion and how to remove snow balls from the belly of a dog.
– Anthologies –
I have been invited to contribute to a number of anthologies, alongside other best selling and award-winning authors.
Itchy Feet: Tales of travel and adventure
Itchy Feet was released to a string of five-star reviews. A free photo album accompanies the book. Images from Rafting the Zambezi – The River of the Gods – my wild-water Slambezi trip – feature on Page 14!
- ISBN paperback: 979-8468674802
- ISBN hardcover: 979-8468675861
- ASIN ebook: B09DFSXJQ3
- Publication Date: 26th September 2021
- Pages: 399
- Amazon Universal Link: smarturl.it/itchy-feet
- Title: Itchy Feet
- Subtitle: Tales of travel and adventure
- Author: Alyson Sheldrake
- Series: Travel Stories Book 2
- Publisher: Tadornini Publishing
Here is an example review from author Sharon Hayhurst.
From the Indonesian jungle, to an epic journey out of Africa, and rafting the Zambezi, twenty intrepid and inspiring authors share their adventures with you in this anthology of travel stories.
Find out what Egypt is like in a heatwave, and hunt down Dracula in Transylvania.
Catch a rare glimpse into the lives of the last Pech Indigenous people of La Moskitia, Honduras.
Experience history first-hand through four continents, three wars and a desperate message in a bottle with a story of heartbreak, poverty and travel in the 19th century.
Be entertained by a teenager’s first glance of foreign soil, and an Australian view of England. Ride a Harley through France and Spain and find out what makes someone a perpetual nomad.
Read Itchy Feet now to travel around the world from the comfort of your own armchair. No passport required.
Wish You Were Here: Holiday Memories
My contribution to this third anthology of travel stories is A Galápagos Fantasy. Once again, my photographs can be seen on page 14 of the accompanying photo album.
I have also contributed a bonus chapter, Honeymoon II: The Sequel, for the Travel Stories box set, released in December 2021.
- ISBN paperback: 979-8498113852
- ISBN hardcover: 979-8498114620
- ASIN ebook: B09KM1V4CC3
- Publication Date: 19th November 2021
- Pages: 366
- Amazon Universal Link: smarturl.it/wish-you-were-hereAS
- Title: Wish You Were Here
- Subtitle: Holiday Memories
- Author: Alyson Sheldrake
- Series: Travel Stories Book 3
- Publisher: Tadornini Publishing
“When these 20 authors cry ‘wish you were here’, grab your passport, grab your sunhat and tag along; through the wild, the wonderful and the whacky, it will be the holiday of a lifetime.” Lisa Rose Wright, author of the ‘Writing Home’ series of books about life in Galicia, Spain.
“A wonderful collection of short travel stories from all over the world. It is amazing to read all the splendid memories and the authors really take you on a trip full of adventures.” Kathleen Van Lierop, author of the ‘mycrazylifefullwithbooks’ blog.
Favourite holidays and special travel memories are shared in this anthology featuring twenty award-winning and top travel memoir authors.
We all have that one holiday that stands out in our minds, that one break or vacation we will never forget. Whether it is a childhood ‘bucket and spade’ family holiday, the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ dream destination, your first trip abroad or the city where you first fell in love, the memories are still there today.
The authors in this anthology bring out their postcards and photo albums and invite you to join them as they reminisce about their travels.
Maybe they will inspire you to book your next holiday too.
40 Life Changing Events
My chapter, A Street Dog Named Blade, chronicles how we adopted a Romanian street dog on our travels.
- ISBN paperback: 979-8770961218
- ASIN ebook: B09M8JT2FH
- Publication Date: 12th December 2021
- Pages: 366
- Amazon Universal Link: http://getbook.at/40LCE
- Title: 40 Life Changing Events
- Subtitle: 2022 Edition
- Author: Robert Fear
Where the unforeseen lies in wait… surprises abound
25 writers share events that have changed their lives. Some of these stories are tragic, others full of joy, but they all encapsulate the tenacity, resilience, and self-belief.
What will you take away from these exceptional recollections from across the generations? This fascinating compilation will encourage you to pause and reflect, with tales that offer much needed motivation and inspiration in these challenging times.
50 Intriguing Personal Insights
My chapter, Welcome to Kosovo relays a rather unexpected first experience of this previously war-torn country.
- ISBN paperback: 979-8362196981
- ASIN ebook: B0BM46J9BX
- Publication Date: 10th November 2022
- Pages: 370
- Amazon Universal Link: http://mybook.to/50IPI
- Title: 50 Intriguing Personal Insights
- Subtitle: 2023 Edition
- Author: Robert Fear
Memories are made to be recalled and shared. Providing unique insights into the soul.
In this anthology of real-life stories, twenty-nine writers share fifty fascinating experiences about themselves or those close to them. Take a break from your busy schedule and immerse yourself in this remarkable book.
Discover how pivotal moments have affected their lives in unpredictable ways. You will feel stimulated by their honesty and take away a sense of intrigue and fulfilment.
Voices from the road
I am delighted to have been selected for interview about our our travels in Romania for inclusion in Gail Hulnick’s road trip anthology, Voices from the road.
- ISBN paperback: 978-1-947527-08-9
- Publication Date: 24th November 2020
- Pages: 192
- Available: Amazon
- Title: Rumble Strip World: Voices from the road
- Author: Gail Hulnick
Locations: U.S., Canada, Mexico, India, Thailand, Bali, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Croatia, Namibia, Tanzania, & New Zealand. My contribution is the chapter on Romania, detailing how we adopted a street dog named Blade.
Fun to read about road trips taken all over the world and what it meant to each person. Some funny, some sad but each with a unique look into life on the road.
A collection of 38 accounts of amazing, hilarious, moving, memorable, educational and life-changing road trips from every corner of the globe. These stories aren’t scrubbed and sanitized, they’re told in the actual words of the intrepid travellers who drove, biked, RV’d, and motorcycled across the rumble strips of the world to award-winning novelist, Gail Hulnick.
– Sample Q&A Tip Sheet –
1. About Jackie, Mark & Travels
- When did you get the adventure bug?
- What made you give up work to travel?
- Why did you choose to travel in a caravan at first?
- Why did you call yourselves Adventure Caravanners?
- Does Jackie drive the caravan?
- What persuaded you to replace the caravan with a 24.5 tonne truck?
- What do you do in winter?
- How do you fund your travels?
- What is your favourite country?
- Which country was most challenging?
- How do you get internet abroad?
- What are your future travel plans?
- How long do you plan to travel?
2. About Mark
- How did you meet Mark?
- How long have you and Mark been together?
- How do you manage being together 24/7/365?
3. About the Dogs
- What breed are they?
- Why did you choose Cavapoos?
- Are they related?
- Why do you have four dogs?
- How do you manage with four dogs?
- Is it easy to travel with four dogs?
- What are their names & how did you choose them?
- Do they all have different personalities?
- Are they fussy about food? How do you get dog food abroad?
4. On Writing
- Why did you write your first book?
- What are you working on currently?
- Do you find writing easy?
- Do you have a writing routine?
- What do you find most rewarding about writing?
5. On Your Vehicles
- How did you ‘accidentally’ buy a caravan?
- Why was your caravan called ‘Kismet’?
- Why is your tow vehicle a panel van called ‘Big Blue’?
- What happened to Big Blue & Kismet now you’ve bought an expedition truck?
5. On The Beast, Your New Expedition Truck
- Why did you buy a 24.5 tonne truck?
- What kind of truck is she?
- Will it limit where you can go?
- Where do you plan to travel with her?
6. On Outdoor Sports
- Which is your favourite: skiing or windsurfing?
- Does having the dogs limit what you can do?
– Sample Chapter –
Dogs ‘n’ Dracula
Towing the Transfăgărășan – Crossing The Carpathians with a Caravan
“The Best Road In The World” – Jeremy Clarkson
Caravan-hating Jeremy Clarkson, former presenter of the TV programme Top Gear, declared the Transfăgărășan, “The best road in the world”. Thus, it was in honour of Clarkson that we planned to drive over it with a caravan. With luck, he might get stuck behind us.
We had received little encouragement about driving over the Transfăgărășan, the second highest mountain pass in Romania, with the caravan.
Besides telling us that we would drive straight into a blizzard on the summit, the miserable Brits on the campsite had no confidence that our van, Big Blue was even capable of getting Caravan Kismet up there. They piled on the pressure by asking, “Do you have extra coolant and a spare belt?”
I tried to console myself that the Transfăgărășan had been built for military vehicles. The maximum gradient was 11 per cent for a short stretch; the Vršič pass in Slovenia was 14 per cent which gave me a reference. Ever the optimist, Mark made a promise:
“It’ll be a piece of cake.”
Nevertheless, I can’t say that I departed our campsite in Cârţa without trepidation. A band of German bikers with big beards had camped next to us. They competed annually in the Isle of Man T.T. race. They seemed dubious about our chances of hauling Kismet over the Transfăgărășan.
“We rode it yesterday. The surface is not good. It is very steep and very narrow. You will have to watch that you don’t, how you say? Catch the back. Ground out.”
This from perennial risk-takers, who put their lives on the line by hurling themselves around the Manx circuit at 150mph in ‘the most dangerous race in the world’.
“We’re planning to drive over the Transfăgărășan,” I told the lady owner as I paid her for the campsite.
I scanned her face for any flicker of reaction or doubt. There was none. I suspect that she had long since lost interest in the hair-brained schemes of tourists.
Our stop at Lidl in Făgăras on the way back yesterday had highlighted that Sunday night was not the best time to seek full supermarket shelves. We had no onions. In addition, we had forgotten to get cash, fill up with fuel and check our tyres, water and oil. After all, we had 56 miles to do, 6,699ft to climb and a few twists and turns to navigate.
Rather than wasting valuable time by making a sensible trip back to Făgăras with nothing in tow, we hit the road. I kept a lookout for somewhere promising to stop for money and supplies. In Victoria, we circled the town centre before finding a supermarket car park large enough to accommodate a caravan. There is nothing like a view of cancerous communist concrete opposite a Lidl to start a scary day. As I waited for Mark, I thoroughly enjoyed the irony of seeing a horse and cart trot past the now crumbling image of Ceaușescu’s ‘modern’ Romania.
Big Blue and Kismet climbed through the beautiful Transylvanian forests towards mountain peaks topped by cloud. Looks of open-mouthed wonder as we passed did nothing to reassure us that we had made the right decision.
As we emerged above the tree line, we were faced by a huge waterfall, crashing hundreds of feet down the immense, solid, rock wall at the head of the valley.
“We’re going up there?” Mark asked in disbelief.
It looked like it. Literally, the only way was up.
The road snaked around the mountainside and did indeed, come out at the top of the cascade. We halted on a precipice to take photos. Our views back to the sparkling plain of Transylvania, far below, twinkled with a glimmer of magic.
Above the tree line, we could see the road winding upwards through bleak mountain scenery. Now, we were entering an uncompromising world of rocks, mist and cloud.
I have mentioned Romanian driving habits before, but on the Transfăgărășan, they abandoned all the rules of Romania Mania. Even though the road was narrow, uphill and had a steep drop to the side (with no barriers), not one person overtook on a blind bend with a lorry coming the other way. Not once were we forced to brake sharply to ensure that no-one died. The Transfăgărășan is evidently a road that commands respect – and reverential adherence to the 40km speed limit, even among Romanians.
We pulled over to get photographic evidence of Big Blue and Kismet on the hairpins. This was just below Bâlea Lake, the high point of the Transfăgărășan. Bâlea is a glacial lake; one of Romania’s ‘must-see’ natural wonders. There are cafés. It was mobbed. We didn’t stop
The Transfăgărășan was commercial, with plenty of eateries along the route. However, this was still Romania. At no point was I confident that I would not cross the Carpathians starving as well as scared.
At Conacul Ursului, we stopped for a coffee and cake. It was a large café with plenty of seating outside. It was charmingly Romanian.
“Please can we order some food and coffee?”
“We have a group in. We can’t do food.” (The group was already tucking in to a pre-prepared buffet.)
“Well, could we have just a coffee?”
“Sigh. I suppose.”
“And a cake?”
Coffee was grudgingly produced with a tiny plastic carton of milk.
We had no stopover planned for the night, but had noticed a campsite next door. There were also appealing signs for potential doggie-walks along the river in the dark-green forest.
“What’s the situation with the campsite next door?”
“I don’t know. This is just the hotel. My neighbour runs the campsite.”
“There is nobody there. Do you know who I ask?”
I was just glad that Mark had been sensible enough to bank two emergency pasties in Lidl, Victoria. Otherwise, even on this trip – with its seemingly plentiful refreshment stops – I would have been subjected to the shakes from low blood sugar, never mind the sheer drops.
We pushed on and decided to miss out a few of our planned stops to make more headway. The road twisted for miles along the crenellated edge of the Vidraru lake, whose azure waters winked and glistened in the sun between the trees. Of course, there was no way down and no footpaths along the shoreline. At the Vidraru Dam, there was a car park, so we stopped to give the dogs a leg-stretch.
The dam on the Argeş River was built in the mid-1960s to create Lake Vidraru. To give passers-by a clue to its purpose, an immense, silver sculpture of Prometheus, holding aloft a bolt of lightning, was perched on a rocky crag above the dam, looking for all the world like a Marvel Superhero.
It’s hydroelectricity. In case you didn’t guess. In Greek Mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to us mortals.
As we continued, we passed a flock of sheep being driven by six tall, rangy dogs. Of course, a 6 vs 5 bark-off quickly developed. I put the camera out of the van window and tried, but failed, to get the money shot: a photograph of the caravan being chased up the road by six monstrous and moderately outraged Romanian shepherd dogs.
What goes up must come down – and down… The descent from Transylvania into Walachia was spectacular. We dropped into deep gorges, where we could look back up to the road that we had driven, to see soaring viaducts, spanning steep chasms. There are 830 bridges and 27 viaducts on the Transfăgărașan, although I didn’t count.
All of a sudden, a fantastic hilltop castle hove into view – and a sign which announced ‘Dracula Camping’. Poienari castle had been on our list of sights to see, but we had given up on it. Our web-research had been definitive – there were absolutely no campsites anywhere nearby. We drew quickly into a layby opposite the very real and existing campsite, which was located directly under the castle. The campsite reception housed the castle’s entrance kiosk.
Poienari was a castle where Vlad definitely woz ’ere. At Bran, of course, ’e wozn’t at all; not that the tourist industry would let historical accuracy inhibit a Dracula goldmine
Two or three mangy strays wandered around the campsite. Dr Doolittle struck again; Mark provided a beef and salmon dinner for everybody plus a bandaged paw for one poor little pooch, who was limping badly.
We were wary of our neighbours. The campsite had a high perimeter fence, bearing abundant portraits of the locals. We christened it ‘The Bear Grills.’ Head-shots of snarling grizzlies led us to place the small can of bear spray that Jake had given us strategically inside the caravan. We also emptied the bin on the inside of our Alu-tech caravan door, which now looked far too flimsy to be bear-proof.
Mark had promised that towing the Transfăgărășan would be a piece of cake. It had not been, but that was only due to the quirks of Romanian cafés.
Aside from a slightly smelly clutch and a further addition to the grimy fan of oil droplets sprayed down Kismet’s side, it was conclusively Caravan 1, Carpathians 0.
Clarkson would be proud!