Leaving Serbia and entering Romania felt quite sudden. On the Romanian side of the Danube the traffic was way worse than on the Serbian side. Right behind the border we met Awat who was cycling from London to Istanbul. Together we had a drink before we separately cycled on. But our ways should cross again in the next couple of days. We also met straying dogs already on our first day. We had read about them in other blogs. People say you should get off your bike when dogs approach you, yell or carry a stick or stone with you. Already imitating throwing a stone at them works most of the times to make them leave you alone. Some days we cycled always carrying a stone in our hand, but we were all in all just given frights, nothing else happened. All these things made us miss Serbia even more. In the first city we reached in Romania we went to a postoffice and send 5kg of things back to Berlin. The uphill cycling in Serbia had inspired us to do some ‚house-cleaning‘ and sorting out. With the help of some customers and the arts-and-craft-skills of the post assistant the package was sent. It had gotten quite late in the meantime and finding a camping spot wasn’t easy. When we asked some people, they first called others to help with the translation and then organized that we stayed in one of the neighbours garden.
The second night we camped together with Awat on a field in the middle of nowhere. In the night you could see a beautiful starry sky. During the day you see in Romania even more horse-drawn carriages than in Serbia. We enjoyed seeing lots of people while cycling through villages and towns. Almost everybody has a bench in front of his house. Especially many elderly people sit there on their own or in groups, watch what’s going on on the street, talk to each other, eat sunflower seeds and wave and smile when we came by. We often made our breaks on benches like that.
Our third night we slept on a ground which used to be a camping site. Just later we noticed, that several packs of dogs where inhabiting these grounds. They tried to come closer to our tent, but especially thanks to Lauras commitment we managed to keep them away. Luckily, they were quite peaceful after a while. The next morning we came to a town to do some groceries. We saw what seemed to be an ordinary chaotic and turbulent morning: the streets where full of people who ran errands, were yelling and lots of vehicles and carriages were blocking the streets. That scene was quite a contrast to the peaceful villages we had passed before. Some time later we ran into someone who didn’t seem to like foreigners a lot and therefore was unfriendly. After that situation, it seemed as if fate wanted to make things good again: in the next town someone gave us ice-cream and lemonade. Later in the evening when we had reached Orlea we tried to get some water from the pump. Unfortunately, that didn’t work as it was broken. In this moment an elderly man came by who had noticed that we weren’t able to get water and told us without any common language that we should come with him to his house. There we were offered lemonade and coffee by him and his wife Niza. Then, they called some friends and relatives who were able to speak some German. Later, their son Constantin and cousin Marianna arrived who translated that we could stay for some days if we wanted. Surprised about the turn of events and grateful for the hospitality we altogether stayed three days at their house. They cared for us and provided us with lots of delicious and home-grown food. We stayed in a guest room in the house, Constantin took us to a celebration on the occasion of the ‚birthday of Romania‘, we went to the terrace, which is like a pub in front of the supermarket. Together with him and his brother Gigi we went to an afterparty of a wedding and from there with some other guests to the Danube and a Roman archeological excavation. We were quite impressed how much food Constantin family was growing themselves, their garden and all the animals running around there. Rested and with fresh water we went on.
A few days later we reached Giurgiu, from where we crossed over to Ruse (Bulgaria). It was already late when we arrived and until we had changed some money and left the border area. Finally, we found a spot quite close to the Danube in a small forest. The next day we celebrated Noemi’s 24th birthday with some cake, delicious food and some surprise-birthday videos from family and friends.
Slowly you can feel that autumn is starting. Despite the 30 C° during the day, the nights are getting colder, leaves are falling from the trees and the days get shorter. Since Romania we are already one time zone later than Germany, but it’s still getting dark very early. We do hope that there’ll be less mosquitos at least 🙂 The next day we met the cyclist Kalle from Hamburg. Together we spent a nice break. That day we left the Danube, which we had been following since Linz for almost two month. As in Serbia and Romania you often see shepherds with their sheep, goats os cows wandering over the meadows. Once they passed by directly next to our tent. Other nights we spent near some donkeys or on an abandoned soccer field.
One morning it turned out that something we ate must have led to upset stomachs. Therefore, for a couple of days we took it easy, didn’t cycle and do a lot until we felt better. The day we continued our journey, we stopped at a terrace in front of a supermarket to have some juice. Nikolai, the owner of the shop, opened it for us despite the midday break. Using a mix of languages and signs we talked and told him about the trip. Nikolai was very sincere, laughed a lot and gave us lots of picnic for the way (among other things some fresh almonds, we still have to crack). After this nice encounter we reached Burgas and later Sozopol (which is probably the most touristy place in Bulgaria) and the Black Sea!
We will now follow the coastline for a few kilometers and cycle in the inland to get to the border crossing point to Turkey. In Turkey we are heading towards Istanbul, where the Couchsurfing hosts Philipp and Anke are already expecting us and hosting us for some days. Istanbul is an important strategic stop, where we will equip ourselves for colder temperatures and spruce our bikes up.