Mid-morning he drops me off at a petrol station on the outskirts of Calafat. It costs less than £50. I ride gently into town, there's not much to it, and I stop for coffee and toilet facilities at a terrace cafe awash with potted palms. Then I set off for my final destination that day, the Bulgarian city of Vidin. There is a brand new bridge, only completed in June of this year, a 'Friendship' bridge between these two antagonistic nations, funded by the EU. There are several kilometres of loop roads before you get anywhere near the bridge but it is like cycling on a billiard table (please don't try this at home), the tarmac is so smooth. Eventually I arrive at the border checkpoint and am waved cheerfully through by both Roumanians and Bulgarians I set out for the 3 Km bridge proper. It is a Monday morning and in the entire time it takes me to cycle those 3 Km not a single other vehicle uses the bridge in either direction. Not much friendship going on then?
At first Vidin appears to be a shabby, crumbling post communist city, with broad avenues that go nowhere and scruffy parks that no one uses, just like half a dozen others that I have passed through. I have a thumbnail map on my booking confirmation which shows that my hotel is on the riverside and as I get closer the scene changes from despair to joy as I find myself in a park that belongs in Bulgaria's Golden Age. I am not sure when Bulgaria's Golden Age was but I am guessing that it was between the wars, and along the river there is a promenade fronting a string of elegant 1930s buildings including a tiny theatre. There is a Promenade, old men play chess in the leafy avenues in the park and there in the middle of it is my hotel. It's all charming. I have lunch in the theatre cafe and then crash out in the hotel.
Trivia for celeb followers. For many years U2's Bono has been holidaying discreetly in Bulgaria not far from Vidin and has made many generous contributions to local community projects. Apparently the success of Vidin's one-way system is as a result of a massive cash injection from the Irish rock star. In recognition in 2006 the Bulgarian government renamed the province of which Vidi is the capital as 'Bononia'. Bet you didn't know that.