Today was decision day. Do I continue to Constança and the Black Sea in Romania? or, do I leave the girls and head north to Moldova and into Ukraine to reach Odessa?
Odessa won. It’s an extra 500km and it means cycling alone for the next week in some of the most remote parts of Europe, but Ukraine is like home and although I’ve really enjoyed having company, I would like some time cycling alone. It’s too easy in a group to rely on other people and I feel like I should be pulling my weight a bit more.
So, as we packed and left our Danube ‘pearl’ in Popina, I explained that I would leave Sarah and Ariana at the border town of Silistra which sits on the Bulgarian side of the Bulraia/Romania border.
“An short 40km” I thought to myself, “it will be easy and I’ll spend the afternoon relaxing and planning the trip north”. Well it was short but it was anything but easy. Still on dirt tracks we had the most insane hill up and out of Popina – easily the toughest hill so far and 1 hour into the day we were all sweating like pigs in a sauna at the top of a very hot hill in rural Bulgaria.
Thankfully, it got easier as the morning went on, but it still took us 4 hours to reach Silistra and none of us were in high-spirits as we entered the city, compounded by the fact that its a big, hot and uninspiring place.
The girls made a special effort and joined me for our ‘last lunch’ in a part and approriately – right next to the Danube. We ate our final Shopska salads and chick things together and finished it off with a Slush-Puppy in the park.
After lunch I rode with them until I saw a hotel and left them rather incongruously at a large junction in Silistra. They will continue to Constança arriving on Saturday (the next day) ending three months and almost 4,000km of cycling and I would gather my stuff and then head to Ukraine.
Desperate for some rest and relaxation and tempted by the fact it was just 30 EUR a night, I checked into Silistra’s 5 star hotel and slept like a baby until evening.