Leaving our super-friendly guesthouse by the Danube, our friendly hosts and their two crazy dogs behind, we left a little later than usual today (it’s hard to leave warm bread and home-made jam) and headed for Romania.
It was a pretty unremarkable day as far as cycling goes but it was pleasant, warm and sunny and despite a few steep hills it was relatively easy going as it was all on tarmac roads. We stopped for lunch (the remainder of yesterday’s pizza) in a park in Bela Crkva (White Church) and then crossed into Romania.
Bela Csrkva was clearly an important place in years gone by and although it’s no longer a rich place, it has retained some of its old grandeur with wide streets, beautiful houses and a nice central park for eating pizza in.
Unsurprisingly (this being Serbia) the woman in the ice cream shop befriended Ariel and Sarah despite the fact that none of them understood each other which led to lots of hugging and kissing as we left.
The border out of Serbia and into Romania was (as usual) an uneventful affair but almost immediately the landscape changes and you really do feel like you’re in a different country. It also feels a lot poorer and life in the small villages we passed through looks about as tough as it gets in Europe. As is often the case in Eastern Europe we had crossed a border, turned a corner and entered another world, one which is extinct in Western Europe. Here families ride around on horse-drawn trailers, people live off the land that they live on and old people sit outside the front of their houses and wave and smile as you ride by. Wood provides the heat, wells provide the water and almost nothing provides enough for the kind of lives we live in the other, richer Europe.
We pushed-on through village after village until we were all shattered, hungry and desperately in need of a shower.
At 106km it was the longest day of cycling I have ever done.
That night a massive storm blew up the Danube, but I didn’t care. I was off the bike and out of the rain which means I still haven’t been rained on for the whole trip. Long may it continue.