I once asked Dylan, the Enhlish guy I met at the start of my trip, what it was like to go running after riding 5,000km around the UK. “Its weird” he said. You’re heart and lungs are ok but youe legs feel really strange. It kinda made sense and today I discovered that the same is true for walking. I decided to explore Zatoka by foot and had to give up because I was walking like a freak. I have actually forgotten how to walk like I used to walk or perhaps I’d developed muscles in cycling places and this was interfering but whatever the reason – it was weird. Dylan was correct.
Category: Journeys (Page 1 of 9)
With little to no chance of getting a breakfast at the hotel in Tartarbunary, I packed my stuff and was on the road early today. Yesterday had been slow and hard work in the afternoon heat, so I decided to get going early. My legs were stiff (I assume because of the previous 1,900km as much as the headwinds from yesterday) but with the end in sight I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
I threw the stuff on the bike and was drinking a cheap Nescafe in a cheap plastic cup on the edge of town 10 minutes later.
After leaving Hungary, the shops are all basically the same. The name and languages change but the format is consistent. They are small, dark rooms stuffed full of plastic-wrapped and brightly coloured products. There are always 2-3 fridges, one or two for beers and one for soft-drinks. There’s always bread, sometimes fruit and veg and usually a glass counter/fridge with salami, yogurt and dairy products.
Breakfast this morning was the most disappointing yet. Without providing a menu, a presumably-new waitress, who was being shadowed by a less-than-helpful guy asked what I wanted to eat and then shrugged when I asked what they had. So, I asked for an omelet (everywhere has omelettes) a coffee and an orange juice. Each arrived at different times and the omelet was stingy to say the least, perhaps two eggs and no filling.
From Gelati it’s just 10km to the Moldovan border. At times the road is quiet and flat, at other times it’s badly maintained and busy but I’m quite used to that now, so I gave the cars as much space as I could and made it to the border alive.
I skipped past a line of waiting cars, filmed a brightly coloured train moving some cargo and then rolled into Moldova with a new stamp in my passport and without much fuss.
The road through Moldova is easy and quite fun as it’s literally 1km of bad road next to Moldova’s only a port (and thus access to the open water of the Black Sea). The road passes straight across a pleasant peice of land with a nice view of the river and then delivers you to the border of Ukraine.
Waking up by the river was beautiful made a refreshing change from waking up in a hotel room that smelled on my sweaty shoes and damp clothes. It also meant that we were up, fed and on the road early.
The only downsides were a) I was still smelly and covered in sun-cream from yesterday and b) we all needed to use a ‘real’ toilet.
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.
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.
There’s not much to say about Silistra. Mostly because I did very little, but also because I’ve left if so long before writing this post that I’ve forgotten the few things I did do.
I chose and booked a hotel via booking.com and opted for the posh ‘Hotel Danube’ because it was £30 a night with breakfast, swimming pool and luxury rooms. I don’t reall need any of these things, but I was feeling exhausted and £30 is hardly an extravagance.
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.
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.