At 6am the phone alarm rings, we fumble around for the snooze button, desperately seeking those last minutes of sleep before the first rays of the sun heat up the tent and the day begins: A typical day cycling in Romania.
Getting dressed in the tent requires the skilled execution of a number of Yoga moves. Once suited and booted we open the zipper, peeking out to get an impression of the weather and as result what kind of day we will have. The dream is a strong tail wind with some cloud. Today it’s going to be another hot day with some wind, looks like a tail, so we will make another sacrifice to the cycling gods. ||
No showers are available but a mighty fine river serves as a good place to have a morning wash. The Danube river water is very soft and feels lovely on your skin. We fire up our trusty stove to boil water for coffee while we start packing up.
This place was marked on our map as a campsite, but when we rocked up the previous night, there was no campsite to be seen. The owner of the nearby house was obviously used to cyclists turning up on her doorstep and a few looks of desperation later she let us stay on her lawn.
When the water boils, we make coffee and have breakfast. Usually, breakfast is cereal with milk or yoghurt, fruit, bread and Nutella or jam.
We wash the dishes under a nearby tap and complete packing up, leaving the camp between 8am and 8:30am.
Within the first few minutes of being on the bikes we quickly get an idea of any aches and pains that will accompany us for the day. Guy specializes in achy knees whilst Freddie dabbles in a little shoulder pain.
Cycling through local villages, we overtake some horse and carts, and almost everyone we pass waves to us and bellows enthusiastic greetings, even a passing train toots, with the conductors hanging out the window and waving.
After cycling for about 25km the first stomach rumbles announce it’s time for our first snack break.
Having well stocked food supplies is essential, so we find a small shop and stock up on food for the day, not even looking twice at the Coca Cola vending machine.
Cycling through a watermelon market we stop to take pictures of the horses with their carts loaded up with melons, as well as cars with melons piled up on their roofs. One of the friendly traders gives us a 4kg rock melon as a gift, not the ideal gift for a cyclist but we take it with open arms.
We cycle for another 25km or so before we find a fuel station on the way to refill our fuel bottle. Normally a full fuel bottle lasts a week but we like to keep it topped up. Total fill cost; 20 pence.
Looking for a bench or a field to have lunch, we find a nice shady spot under a tree.
We have bread, tinned mackerel, cheese and tomatoes for lunch, and yoghurt for dessert. We also find a plum tree nearby.
We cycle until mid afternoon for another 25km or so through small villages and open farm land. Adorable village children like to greet the strange looking tourists with high fives and race us on their their creaky oversized bicycles.
By mid afternoon, it’s time for our daily ice cream. While Freddie goes ice cream shopping, Guy attempts to show the locals a map of where we have come from and where we are going.
Today is a good day, as the roads are much better than expected. We had been warned to expect extremely potholed roads and terrible drivers in Romania, but somehow we managed to escape this. We have cycled on good roads with considerate drivers through most of our stay in Romania.
By late afternoon, we start to think about accommodation. This could be a campsite (though they are increasingly rare in this part of the world), a wild camp, ideally hidden from view and with a nearby river to wash in, or a hostel or hotel.
Sometimes the campsites that are marked on our map don’t actually exist, but today we spot a sign.
We have cycled 101 km today, with quite easy conditions, flat roads and a tail wind.
We check into the campsite, but first we must greet the dogs. Stray dogs are everywhere, and most of them have been quite shy and very hungry. Sometimes they get lucky and we donate some bread to them, soaked in milk is a house favourite.
We set up Boris, our tent and tuck the bikes in.
After a truly disgusting shower with foul smelling water, we cook dinner. Spaghetti with tuna and tomato sauce and cheese, as usual. We chat to some other cyclists for a while before we say good night.
When we crawl into Boris, we are weary from all the high fives and waving, but touched by the warmth of the Romanian people. Not every day on the road is this exciting, but Romania certainly offers some of the most interesting and entertaining cycling we have done so far.