Budapest to the Black Sea

Budapest to the Black Sea

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Black Sea or Bust - Day 12 Vidin - Bechet 102 Km (63 miles)

I have to ride and I have to start early, even earlier than I thought because (and I'm sure you all knew this) Bulgaria is two hours ahead of London and Roumania only one hour.  The complexities of all this confuse me but it boils down to the simple fact that if I sleep in Bulgaria I have to get up so early (first light!) that I have to miss breakfast. If I had slept in Roumania I could have had a leisurely breakfast in my silk dressing gown while reading a copy of the London Times. 

I cycle round the Euro-loop roads, only noticing, rather late on, that I am prohibited from doing so, but not the bridge itself. I don't care, I am the only person using them. I return to Roumania and Calafat, the route for Bechet is clear and straight. This is the only night for which I have not been able to book a hotel. In theory there is one described on a cyclist's blog as one of the worst that he had stayed at. If that doesn't look good I will turn south and cross the river to Bulgaria and spend the night in Oryahavo. Means missing breakfast though. 

And now the bad news. The next six days are a steady plod through rural Roumania. No scenic splendours just a straight, mainly flat route which my Guide Book suggests you could skip and take the train. Tempting but unthinkable. In any case it will take a fair amount of invention on my part to keep this blog going.

This particular morning, after I have crossed the bridge, is misty, pink and rather beautiful. I stop to take photographs in a local cemetery where most of the crosses have funny little roofs. Most of the massive tomb slabs have sturdy rings and come funeral time presumably heavy lifting equipment is brought in as the next family member is interred in the vault. Should you be considering a move to Roumania to avoid the dismal economic climate in the UK (though my wife seems to be doing her bit in boosting sales in the N Hants area in my absence) then cemetery flowers seem to be the business to be in. The amount of flowers, fresh flowers, in evidence in this densely packed graveyard is extraordinary and every tiny village has a funereal florist, you may not be able to buy a can of beans but you can always buy a new wreath for Granny. 

I am riding parallel to the Danube but for most of the day it is a couple of miles south and apart from a brief glimpse at the end of a lane or a distant shimmering  in a gap in the trees I will see nothing of it. Early in the morning there are flocks of starlings in the fields and for a few moments I find myself in the middle of one that is flying in exactly the same direction and at exactly the the same speed as me and it is quite disorientating.

It's a longish day, yet again the sun shines, and when I get to 'the worst hotel' I decide to give it a go. It's quite jolly and cheap enough but as is always the case it's the bloody shower that let's it down. The difference between a good hotel and a bad hotel is not the concierge, cuisine, location, decor, it's the fact that in a bad hotel the shower leaks instantly and totally the moment you switch it on leaving the bathroom an inch deep for the rest of your stay with soggy smelly bath mats etc. Ugh. 

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Cycling Down the Danube

Cycling Down the Danube
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