Leaving later than expected (now a common problem), today was to be the first day of cycling alone and was perhaps to be the start of a long and lonely week on the road. I set of relatively early and crossed the border into Romania on the edge of the city. I was happy to be back in Romania. Bulgaria is nice enough and I had a wonderful time there but Romania is, in many ways, more colourful and entertaining. It’s also supposed to be flatter although the first hill I hit at 10:00am destroyed that myth.
I was 10 minutes into ‘teach yourself Ukrainian’ lesson two and trying to adjust to life on the road alone when the hill began and climbed up past a large church or monastery overlooking the river. As I passed I noticed two other EuroVello cyclists hunched over their maps outside the church, but being English and being focused on the task in hand (the hill) I continued passed them without stopping.
Five minutes later they caught-up with me and Sebastian introduced himself with a smile. He and his girlfriend Laura were cycling from their home in Vienna, along the EuroVelo 6 route to Romania and then along the Bulgarian coast to Istanbul. We were all heading in the same direction and we were very quickly making friends, talking about previous routes and locations and generally enjoying ourselves as we pedaled across Romania towards Chernovoda.
Fate had once again decided that my Ukrainian self-education should wait. We cycled and talked and took pictures of the beautiful but mow super hilly countryside. Together we covered 106km including 1100m ascent. That’s a lot of up hill when you have a heavily loaded bike and its almost 40 degrees in the sunshine.
When we arrived in Chernavoda (which would mean Black Water if the name has Slavic origins) we bumped into a young German guy outside a local hotel who is cycling a section of the EuroVelo with his almost 70-year-old Grandparents. They were, he explained, doing about 130km a day.
Feeling quite weak by comparison, me and the Austrians left and opted to share a three-person room at Hollywood Hotel before venturing out for dinner accompanied by some exceptional shit music.
Sebastian, normally a vegetarian, ordered a local dish which consisted on Mamaliga (polenta) with egg on top of it served with a large block of cheese covered in yogurt. He put on a brave face and ate it but I felt sorry for him.
Back at the hotel, the fact that it was Sunday night was seemingly irrelevant and some raucous Romanian wedding celebrations proceeded well into the night. Thankfully I was too tired to care.