Novo Selo (Bulgaria) to Bechet (Romania) 129km Sunday 17th June 2018

We had the makings of a decent breakfast already provided in the fridge of the house. It was kindly left there by Nick whom we then met in the village for a parting shot of coffee.


View from the back yard of the house we rented for the night in Novo Selo (which translate as “New Village” btw).

We had gathered all of our Bulgarian currency and handed it to Nick for use to assist the orphans of the village keeping only enough back for some fruit and water. Nick described the route ahead and the best place to stop for provisions before leaving the country.

It was Sunday morning and we had the roads to ourselves. The sun was beginning to heat things up when we stopped at the shop suggested by Nick in Kapitanovtsi. It had an veranda type entry where the sides were almost all glass and it must heat up to a wicked temperature. Like a greenhouse in the afternoon. Inside the shop proper however there was air conditioning and a reasonable selection of goods. We grabbed and paid for what we needed and did not delay under the veranda (where there were seats for customers to take coffee).

The countryside was rolling and we rolled along on top of it on pretty smooth roads for the most part. We could just about see the river as it peeled away from us in the distance, round a huge bend to rejoin our way as we approached Vidin. Vidin could soon be easily recognised with its several high rise apartment buildings and what I suspect were grain silos. All from the communist period before 1990.



At Vidin a huge bridge loomed across the river. It looked to have been constructed rather recently. Indeed the on/off ramps seemed to still be in the course of finishing. The bridge designers did not have pedestrians or cyclists foremost in their mind when they were designing it. We had to cover a long loop on both the approach to the bridge and again to get off on the other side. The thing itself was huge and it needed to be in order to cross the river here:


On the bridge itself towards the Romanian end there were some lunatics with helmets and ropes. They were trying to sell bungee jumps. We were mad to be doing this bike ride but not mad enough to fall off the bridge with an elastic band tied to us.



Over the bridge we were able to cycle past the long long line (more than 1km long) of trucks to the border post. I wonder what it must be like on busy weekdays.  The border control was perfunctory and we carried on to try to find our way past Calafat and onwards along what looked like it might be a very busy main road.

We had been warned about the feral dogs in Romania. We were only just on the outskirts of Calafat when a band of three dogs of differing sizes came at us. They went straight past me and started growling and snapping at Norman who breezily scared them off by roaring at them and cycling faster than any time I had seen him cycle up until then. He passed me like a hot lemon. Further up the road we debated why he was the dogs preferred target. He thought it might be because he was older. My favourite theory (just to annoy Norman) was that it was because the dogs were racist and didn’t like English men. In reality it probably was because he looked like an alien in his high visibility top. Certainly he looked extremely different to local cyclists and therefore a legitimate target…


Norman the lemon in pre dog attack pose in Bulgaria near Vidin.

We stopped for lunch in Poiana Mare, a long strip developed village just after Calafat. In fact many of the villages and towns melded into each other along stretches of the roads in Romania such that it was only possible to tell where one ended and the other began by watching the communal signs. We had trouble getting lunch as we had no local currency, no cards we had could be accepted and we did not speak the language. Luckily the restaurant owner was final called by the waitress. He spoke French and had no trouble handling euros for payment. We waited in the shade guzzling water and swatting flies. Families with horses and carts passed up and down the street interspersed with soviet era universal tractor and trailers. Cut grass seemed to be the freight of the day along with deadwood and occasionally scrap metal. The horses were not very big and did not go very fast.

Lunch was vegetable soup and some bread. Change was returned in Romanian Lei which was reassuring as we knew we could get supplies further along the road. We also fixed Bechet as our destination for the day because (a) that brought us almost in line with Norman’s blessed plan and made him more relaxed and easier company to be in; and (b) we were able to confirm accommodation there in advance. It was only 83km away and it was only about 14h00 when we left the restaurant in what was only the hottest part of the day. Things were made easier going through each village – Piscu Vechi, Ghidici, Rast, Bistret, Carna, Gighera and Ostroveni as we were nearly always made to feel like as if we were part of the “Tour de Romania”. Kids of all ages would stop what they were doing in front of their houses and race up to line the road with their hands out. We had to high five them all! They would then go back to watching over their chickens and chicks, ducks and ducklings or turkeys and poults. All in the shade of the trees in front of their houses while grandmothers looked on. After Carna we crossed a small bridge over the river Jiu which flows into the Danube there. Just over the bridge there was a campsite called camping Zaval. It was sort of on Norman’s original plan but one look told us that it was definitely not on the plan now and we pushed on to Bechet. Our bed and breakfast turned out to be a large well organised guesthouse with restaurant – the “Tata si Fii” or “Father and Son” Hotel: . We met a young seventy year old man there who was also cycling to the black sea. He went by the moniker that was given to him by his running club “the hash house harriers”.  The HHH is some sort of casual international network of leg joint damagers who like to socialise together after pounding out a few kilometers in the name of bodily wellbeing. Peter the Trigamist was on his third wife apparently. He had no maps and travelled using the sun and the rivers as his guide. He had come along the Rhine and the Danube this far and seemed to be doing just fine.

There was world cup football on but watching the tail end of Germany losing to Mexico and afterwards the draw between Brazil v Switzerland did not exactly add any energy to us and it was early to bed for all and sundry.







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