Having sweated my way up and over many East European hills in the company of two French and now two German speakers, I learnt that all three languages (English, French and German) all use the same idiom “to sweat like a pig” and none of us know why.
One explanation is offered here and suggests the word pig refers to pig iron but this doesn’t explain why the french and German expression uses the word swine not pig.
Anyway, today was a day of hard cycling, very hot weather and hills.
We left early to try and avoid the worst of the hills, but five kilometers and a few hills after our improvised lunch break Sebastian realised that he’d lost his phone …back at the bar.
Waiting for him to return me and Laura were stuck on top of a hill in the midday sun with absolutely no shade. This has actually been the case for most of the trip. The roads and paths are almost always exposed and as a result, the sun is relentless. You don’t feel it so much when you’re moving but as soon as you stop – you cook.
Thankfully Sebastian returned victoriously clutching his iPhone which had fallen onto the verge near the bar, so we gathered our stuff to leave and… I got a puncture. The ‘unpuncturable’ Schwalbe Marathon tyres had been defeated by the same type of thorn that had trumatised Arianna the previous week and, no doubt, many former EuroVelo cyclists before us. Already sweating (like a pig) I was in no mood for fixing a puncture and thankfully I didn’t have to. I had a spare inner-tube (a gift from the guy at the cycle shop in Oxford) which was quickly deployed, inserted and pumped into action.
As we cycled in the afternoon I learned that Windmill in German is: Windmühle and that Müller (the yogurt people) means the same as ‘Miller’ in English.
Despite the hills, this part of Romania is absolutely stunning. The river is surrounded by huge flat grassy plains which weave their way through a valley of hills and cliffs. It’s stunning, its very peaceful and it looks like nowhere else I’ve seen in Europe. It’s easily as picturesque as the Scottish highlands or the Slovene Alps and you still meet horse and carts, cowboys and shepherds working the land.
Unsurprisingly there are few hotels or hostels, so finally I had no excuse. The tent was finally going to see some action! …and there couldn’t have been a more picturesque place for it.
In exacty the right location, the path hugs the bank of the Danube and dragging our bikes down to the edge of the water we found a small track used by local fishermen and gypsies. It was sheltered by trees and 20 meters from the water.
I was slightly unsure about the chainsaw-welding gypsy that was camping in the same spot, but we pitched our tents, locked out bikes to a tree and 15 minutes later we were swimming in the Danube. The perfect end to a hard day of cycling in a very scenic part of Europe.
As the sunset we ate on the bank of the river until we too became dinner for the 20 million mosquitos that came out in search of blood.
I crawled into my tent and set up a mini IT ‘hub’ so I could transfer data from my memory card/camera onto the laptop and then off onto the external HDD. Not easy in a one man tent when your shattered but technically possible.