Bechet to Turnu Magurele 78km Monday 18th June


After yesterdays efforts we have a later start to breakfast than usual. Peter the trigamist has already been foddered and saddled his bicycle before we sit down. We cheerfully wave him away with a loose commitment to look out for him on the road when we perhaps catch up with him.

I have received confirmation that I can go to pick up cash sent by a friend via Moneygram. I learn that there is a Moneygram agent just 200 metres down the road.  Today is looking good! Except the Moneygram agent has the sign but no money. Not to worry, there are plenty of Moneygram places in the next big town – Corabia. “Sounds like a grand place for lunch hey Norman? Only 40km”. “Sounds like a plan, James!”. So off we amble on the same 55A main road that we were on all day yesterday. Leaving Bechet seems to take forever but in fact it segues into one strip development after the other: Calarisi, Dabuleni, Potelu, Grojdibodu, Gura Padini, Orlea. Between the latter few the landscape opens up a little and the harvest is getting into full swing even though we are only in late June. There is a certain amount of traffic related to the harvest – pony and carts bringing people to and from fields, tractors and huge heavy goods vehicles. The HGVs are hauling the grain and other crops to the mills for processing, storage and onward freighting. In fairness to the drivers of all of these vehicles – they were well aware of our presence on the road and gave us plenty of room. White van man however is alive and well in Romania. This evil reincarnation of newspaper delivery boy on speed ensconced in 2500kg of metal is oblivious to anyone else on the road. Speed limit signs are mere guidelines to be bettered. Villages are irritants which require more concentration to get through at high speed without damaging the van. WVM has no regard for human life. We are wondering how many children in Romania have fallen victim to WVM in all the villages he plows through across the country. How many WVM languish in prison. Not enough is our guess.

Corabia, might have once been a thriving place and it has the feel of a place that will thrive again some time in the future. Right now, concrete buildings festooned with rusting air conditioning units and variegated sunshades, line the symetrically arranged streets. Block after block of weedgrown bockety footpaths draped with badly parked brand new cars. Three moneygram places 90 minutes later and still no money. One place wanted me to prove my home address as well as show my passport and the transfer number! I was resigning myself to potentially living off the land for the last few hundred km. I was so near to the end that this thought did not bother me too much. Anyway there was still money for lunch and we tried out for a place by the river. We found the Faleza Dunarii which looked very new, clean and with a decent menu at good prices. The river was several hundred metres distant but by the topography it looked like it came very close once there was any sort of heavy rainful. There was also a swimming pool that some local kids were making full use of. It looked quite appealing in the heat. On closer inspection, the greenish tinge to the water killed the appeal, dead.

Shortly after we made our order the young staff put on local folk music at full volume. Although we were the only customers they refused to turn it off or down. The staff must be entertained too I suppose. The interweb then gave up the knowledge that our lodgings for the night would be in Turnu Magurele at the house of a middle aged couple. The day’s rain came as we ate and finished as we finished. We had no other reason to hang around and that became one of the shortest lunchs of my entire trip.

Onwards, westwards through proper Romanian countryside. Huge fields full of wheat or sunflowers all the way to the edge of that world which is visible from a bike:


The bees have to work too! The traffic this side of Corabia (or perhaps this side of lunchtime) seemed to have died off and we had the road almost to ourselves the whole time. It was somewhat eery though to be in the middle of all that space with no human noise apart from the click and chittle of the chain on our bikes. The road was flat for the most part and took us over the river Olt before we had to pull left at Turnu to find our hosts Ionela and her husband Daniel. They were expecting us and Daniel offered to bring me into town to get some supplies and sort out the Moneygram problem. Amazingly, at the first Moneygram place with a few loud words of encouragement and my money issue was fixed. The power of local!  Back at their house the served us up a delicious local dish of polenta with all the trimmings and we all ate together. After dinner Ionela and husband retired to “their” side of the house and left us on the veranda to watch the sun go down in the east while some silly world cup football match was on the telly and neither Norman nor I were really interested in it. It did not matter. Our bellies were full, the end of the journey was almost within walking distance at this stage. It looked like we were going to make it indeed and that left us thinking about what it would mean to get there…….

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