Month: August 2015 (Page 1 of 3)

Budapest to the Black Sea: Day 19. Popina to Silistra

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.

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Budapest to the Black Sea: Day 18. Giurgiu to Popina

This morning was tough. It was hot, I was tired and after cycling around the city to find a travel agent for Sarah, we still hadn’t left the city by 10:00. To make matters worse, the route Sarah had marked too us back into Bulgaria and what appeared to be 100km of dirt tracks and steep hills. I really wasn’t in the mood for it, but recognizing that much of that was due to tiredness I didn’t put up much of a fight. Also, Sarah’s maps and navigation skills had taken us all the way from Belgrade, so I wasn’t going to be difficult now and with just a few days until their trip finished in Constanța, having their company was much nicer than choosing my own route.

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Budapest to the Black Sea: Day 17. Turnu Măgurele to Giurgiu.

In Romanian villages – it’s all about the bench.

While the Bulgaria seems quiet and sometimes a little introverted, Romania is the complete opposite. By and large, Romanians are outwardly friendly, noisy, curious and incredibly welcoming. In fact this openness is almost built into the fabric of their towns and Villages. Unlike Bulgarian villages which are arranged in clusters away from the main roads, houses in Romania line the streets and outside every house is a bench under a tree. This bench is where people sit, talk, gossip and argue, but mostly it seems that the bench is simply for sitting on and watching the world go by.

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Budapest to the Black Sea: Day 16. Kozloduy to Turnu Măgurele

Because we were well rested and because we had everything for breakfast in our apartment, we left early today and we were on the road by 7:30am. Finally the sun had returned and as we rolled through early morning Bulgaria we enjoyed a few hours of smooth tarmac, quiet villages. The countryside in Bulgaria is strangely like the UK with rolling hills and tree/Bush lined roads and fields.

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Budapest to the Black Sea: Day 15 – A rest day in Kozloduy.

Now a tad over half way and with 1,104km behind me, the ‘rest day’ today was much needed and as often happens when you stop exercising, the tiredness caught up with me. I was knackered.

Thankfully, Kozloduy, famous because of its nuclear power plant, is a small, quiet and relaxed town and I was able to wander around, buy a few essentials and get my brakes serviced. This routine task was a mini-adventure in itself as the owner of our hotel/apartment led me there on his own bike and then tried to explain what I wanted to the mechanic. This was all done in very broken (and inadequate) Russian, but somehow mechanic understood and told me to come back at three O’Clock.

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Budapest to the Black Sea: Day 14 Vidin to Kozloduy

We stayed in a nice and friendly hotel in Vidin and because we ate when we arrived we didn’t go out to see the city. It was raining and we were cold and tired. So, I can’t say much about the city, other than the fact that it was uninspiring. The weather hasn’t been good since we entered Bulgaria, but it’s not a place that’s won me over …not yet anyway.

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1,000km down, 1,000km to go

After 13 days of almost constant cycling, today I rolled past 1,000km and across the halfway point for the trip.

Since arriving in Budapest at 7:00am on Monday the 11th August, I’ve pedaled across five countries and through hundreds of villages, towns and cities. I hurt, but I’m enjoying it and I’m looking forward to another 1,000 kilometers back into Romania all the way to the black sea and back home to Ukraine.

HOWEVER… I’m not doing this so I can avoid work, drink Lemonade and hangout with friendly Serbs. There’s a serious side to this challenge and if you click on the link below you can help me raise money for a Ukrainian charity that needs you help….

Budapest to the Black Sea: Day 13. Negotin (Serbia) to Vidin (Bulgaria).

It’s fair to say that Vidin (Bulgaria) isn’t going to win many beauty contests. In fact, it would struggle to win even if the only other contestants were Luton, Krivoy Rog and my brother. However, having cycled here through 70 km of rain, I’m happy to be here and warm and dry again.

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Budapest to the Black Sea: Day 12. Orsova to Negotin

As we didn’t quite make it to Orsova on Thursday, our day started with a long, steep climb up the hill to the west of the city. Once that was out of the way, the road into Orsova is one of the nicest roads on the whole trip – it’s basically one long, steep descent all the way through the town and down to the riverfront. Every cyclists dream.

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Budapest to the Black Sea: Day 11. Moldova Veche to Orsova (almost)

It has to be said – drivers in Romania are some of the worst in Europe. They drive fast and take very little notice of cyclists and/or pedestrians and totally ignore all speed limits. In fact, I’d say they are even worse than Belgians.

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