Category Archives: Romania

Zimnicea to Giurgiu and into Bulgaria at Ruse.


After a breakfast with Josephine at our hotel in unaccustomed luxury, we packed up and headed eastwards on a muggy but dry morning.

The road was mostly in good condition and fairly level… and at each village we passed through, children rushing out to give us high fives…..

20160612_095400Most villages we passed through had a message as you left,  “drum bun” –  Literally this means ‘good road’, accompanied by the EU ring of stars motif.





20160612_123708As we approached Giurgiu we passed areas of derelict factories and industry… leftovers from the move from the communist era when many poorly managed and uneconomic works went to the wall.


20160612_141747And we came across the first designated cycle lane we saw in Romania…. just as we were about to leave!

We travelled across the 1.5km “Friendship Bridge” that was originally built in 1954 to link Bulgaria and Romania across the Danube…. reportedly the first bridge between the two countries to be built since Roman times!

And then we entered Bulgaria, the 9th country we have entered on our trip.

20160612_142719As we were having our passports checked we struck up conversation with a group of cyclists who were also crossing the border. It turned out they were Bulgarians, returning from a morning over in Romania. They were extremely helpful and showed us the way into the city centre of Ruse and also the location of a decent bike shop. We hope they might be able to supply us with a suitably strong tyre to replace the almost worn out ‘Schwalbe Marathon Plus’  tyre whichwe have temporarily been using after the other new tyre we recently bought developed a split in the side wall..

And we checked into the “English Guest House” …. not having any double rooms available they let us use their small lawn to pitch our tent. Luxury hotel to camping at a guest house in one day! Fortunately for our second night a room became avalailable, so we were able to transfer our tent to an empty garage to dry off a little and help with our packing up the following day.

Nerd’s Corner

Zimnicea to Ruse (Romania) : 48 miles.

Total distance travelled so far: 2480 miles.

Turnu Magurele to Zimnicea


We went to sleep last night with the window open to keep the room cool and could hear the sound of people in bars nearby cheering at the Romania vs France football match. But at breakfast we learnt they had lost 2:1 to France.

20160611_101351When we went to buy our lunch things, we passed groups of men in the park we had seen playing backgammon, chess and another game we didn’t recognise. It had big tiles a bit like dominoes, but the numbers were different.



There was more agricultural land and fewer villages on this next stage, but a number of these had large houses being built at various stages of construction.

20160611_131210Our e-guide to the Danube cycle route said they were as likely as not being built by Romanian Gypsy families as expressions of their wealth and a base from which they roam…..we certainly heard Balkan style gypsy music being played as we passed one or two!

We have forgotten to mention there are also donkeys pulling carts as well as horses.


On our way we met Josephina, a retired Dutch lady travelling on her solo bicycle along the Danube to Constanta, the Romanian Black Sea city….. quite an intrepid person! We later met up again at Zimincea our stop for the night.

20160611_115952At a small village we passed through, after we had bought our lunchtime provisions, we took advantage of the community water supply to wash our fruit and vegetables. With pipes gushing fresh water into a trough it was ideal for our purposes, but there were also locals washing their clothes in communal outdoor clothes washing sinks and one guy was giving his car a wash nearby.

The wheat is ready now in this region and we have seen combine harvesters out in the fields gathering in the grain. Behind the harvesters there are often several storks looking for a meal in the remains of the crop the harvesters leave behind. A bit different to the seagulls we see at home!

As we reached Zimnicea we came across a couple of flocks of geese gathered on marshy meadow land that were obviously reared by local farmers…20160611_130238

As the distance was not so far today, we arrived in Zimnicea mid afternoon, but we could only find 1 place to stay. A hotel that accepts credit card payments; useful,  because we don’t have much Lei left and as this is our last night in Romania so we didn’t want to withdraw more Romanian currency before we enter Bulgaria.

For our evening meal and the second time in Romania, we have had polenta. First time served with a vegetable stew, this time served in three neat scoops with a creamy sauce and some feta like cheese. Very tasty.

Zimincea is the southernmost town in Romania… from here the Danube curves northwards, hence our crossing over to Bulgaria from Giurgiu, the last town in Romania we will pass through.

Nerd’s Corner

Turnu Magurele to Zimnicia: 38 miles.

Total distance travelled so far; 2432 miles.


Bechet to Turnu Magurele

A slightly shorter day today. After a comfortable night in Brechet we headed east along the main road on a low ridge beside the Dunav.

Stopping at a small town to buy our lunch ingredients we bought two large juicy tomatos, a small cucumber and about 250g of cherries from some people who were selling their produce – all for the princely sum of 5 Lei… equivalent to 85p. A nearby supermarket was able to supply us with feta like cheese, olives and yogurts.

20160610_130458On our way we pass lots of roadside wells, although some are clearly now disused; we also come across blue roadside pumps… very handy to wash fruit and veg and to freshen up in the heat of the day.

The road passed through a very productive landscape, with wheat almost ready to be harvested, sunflowers approximately 3ft high and maize about the same. We passed a horse and cart that looked like a moving haystack, it was piled so high.

Wheat field and cornflowers
Wheat field and cornflowers

We notice that an increasingly common roofing material for buildings is steel sheet with a layer of zinc on it. Even churches use this material and it looks quite impressive with the silvery shimmer from the sun reflecting from recently re-roofed structures.

20160610_151950Our destination, Turnu Magurele had quite an ornate church, with two of its towers with a fluted twist in opposite directions.20160610_170326

Our evening meal at a restaurant in town was disturbed by live TV match of the day : Romania v France at Le Stade de France in Paris. Most of the bar staff were wearing Romanian colours in support of their national team and the place was filling up with lots of young men, many with their girlfriends who generally chose to sit not facing the tv screens!

Nerd’s Corner

Brechet to Turnu Magurele: 51 miles.

Total distance travelled so far: 2394 miles.


Calafat to Bechet


Our tandem had been safely stored in a locked room at the hotel we had stayed in, so we were very disappointed to find it had a flat tyre (again) when we went to load it. Suspecting a slow puncture from the previous day’s mend, Simon set about changing the inner tube. That sorted and we went to buy provisions for lunch.

Calafat's main street
A street in Calafat

On our way out of town we heard a loud phsssssst of air ….. another flat front tyre! Luggage off, front wheel off another review of the situation. This revealed a split in the new tyre, Simon suspects the brakes were set a tiny bit too high and had damaged the wall of the tyre which meant the inner tube formed a bubble and burst.

Thankfully, Simon had thought to keep the old back tyre which still had a bit of life left in it as a ‘just in case’ measure. Tyre changed, new inner tube and we were on our way.

We had planned another long day cycling, given when we set out the plan was to do not more than 50 miles a day. We did 62 miles to arrive at our destination, Brechet, and a very welcome shower at the hotel we came across!

We had a brief water stop at a shady picnic area beside a shrine... and along comes a horse and cart, and the owner pumps some water for the horse to drink
We had a brief water stop at a shady picnic area beside a shrine… and along comes a horse and cart, and the owner pumps some water for the horse to drink

The road was again on quite a main road, but not as many heavy lorries as yesterday. There were frequent towns and villages along the way. They are all strung out along the road and seem very long.

Between the towns there were fields of crops, mostly sunflowers, but also maize and wheat. Some of these were huge, and extending as far as you could see; in other places the fields were divided into narrow strips, with different crops in each strip. The sides of the roads have many flowers in bloom, poppies, cornflowers, chamomile and others. Horse and carts are becoming frequent road users now.

In one village we met a funeral procession coming towards us. Led by a drummer and trumpet, the hearse drove along slowly with the back open and followed by the mourners. A throng of people surrounded the car.20160609_121823

In most of the villages, as we passed,  small groups of people shouted out greetings and waved to us.

Frequently, children came to the side of the road and held out there hand for a high five.

The architecture of the buildings was gradually changing; there are more often doorways and windows with a more eastern look.

Outside almost every home is a bench seat with a roof for shade, many with some flowers growing over it.


The seats are often occupied with people sat on their own, or joined by a few neighbours to look at the street view and check out what’s going on.


Also outside many homes there are makeshift pens made of chicken wire, with either turkeys, geese, ducks or hens in them, all with their young.



Seeing a stork in a nest is now quite commonplace beside the road. It seems that some villagers construct a metal framework to sit on the top of electricity poles which form the basis for the storks to build their nests.  

Otherwise the storks just get on with building their messy twiggy nests, often cohabiting with sparrows underneath who manage to find nooks and crannies to feel safe to build their much smaller neater nests. The young storks are now mostly quite big enough to be easily seen on the nest from the road.

Nerd’s Corner

Calafat to Brechet: 62 miles

Total distance travelled so far: 2343 miles

Drobeta-Turnu-Severin to Calafat


We had a choice for this ride, along the main road with a couple of hills and more direct; or along the river, no hills, quite a bit further and quite possibly not very good road surface. There was also the possibility of going part way down the main road, then heading over to the river.

The first part of the ride had to be on the main road, so we decided to see what the conditions were like. We dismissed the river route, we gave done quite a few difficult surfaces and are sure there are more to come!

20160608_111750The main hill seemed to go on for ages, each time we rounded a bend there was more hill. A few stops to catch our breath and admire the view, then we were at the top. The whizz down was soon over, we touched 30mph as we belted along.

As the road surface was good with a marked space to the side for cyclists and the many lorries were giving us space on the road, we decided to continue on the main road and not go off towards the river. The road was mostly straight, passing through many villages and much agricultural work being done. We saw many people using a horse and cart to pull a load, or just to get about.

Passing a horse and cart on the road
Passing a horse and cart on the road

Several times we saw a horse being led along a line between crops, pulling a plough, presumably weeding the soil between the rows.

As we went along lots of people waved hello. I wonder how many times a day an EV6 cyclist passes and gets a wave.

20160608_135154We passed quite a number of buildings which seemed to have an oriental influence.. we speculated it was because of the Turkish invasions over the years.

Just a mile or so from our destination we heard a sudden hissing sound, it was a puncture on the front tyre. Thankfully Simon has an extensive tool kit and is well versed in mending punctures. A small split in the inner tube was found and patched.

View from our room.

On our way again, we found a place to stay for the night, Panorama Hotel and we had a room with a good view of the river.



Nerd’s Corner

Drobeta Turnu Severin to Kalafat: 62 miles

Total distance travelled so far: 2281 miles.

Two days in Drobeta-Turnu-Severin

6th and 7th June

20160606_122509The stay here in Drobeta was planned to give time for the wheel to arrive and get it sorted out. Given it arrived before us, we were able to go to the bike shop first thing on Monday, it was in an out of the way place and we were beginning to wonder if we were looking in the right area when we noticed a bike on a post by a gateway.

The shop La Pedale Drobeta was set back off the road, but clearly it was well known as there was a steady flow of customers as we sat and waited for our tandem to be ready. We had the new wheel, but a new strong tyre needed to be ordered. It also had the chain and gears cleaned very thoroughly.20160606_122642

In the evening we met up with two of the cyclists we had talked to on the road the previous day. We sat at a bar in the town centre next to a park. As we chatted the fragrance of the Linden trees lining the road filled the warm evening air.

We then took a look at the fountains all lit up with colour changing lights.20160606_211035

Another feature in the town is an ornate water tower, also lit up at night.

It was whilst we were talking with our new Romanian friends that we were aware that in moving from Serbia to Romania we had crossed a time zone! Romania is Central European time, 2 hours ahead of BST.

Our cycling friends suggested visiting a monastery some 20k away at Schitu Topolnitei, so we took a ride there on the Tuesday.

At first the road to the monastery was on a busy road, but after about 8k we turned onto a pleasant country road that led gradually up a valley. Away from the main road it was very rural and attractive. Plenty of wild flowers on each side of the road; people working in fields, some with scythes; horse and carts being used.

20160607_125655Eventually, 12k along this road we found the monastery, nestled at the top of the valley.

There were 2 small churches, one constructed of wood, the other stone. The latter was painted on the outside.

The decorated outside of the stone church.
The decorated outside of the stone church.

Whilst we were sat admiring the painting and wondering which biblical stories were being depicted, a monk came out of the nearby home and unlocked the door for us. Inside, every wall was adorned in some way with colourful representations of biblical stories, saints, apostles and disciples. Really quite fantastic.


The wooden church, unfortunately,  was locked.

Wooden church
Wooden church

We sat and ate our lunch and admired the view, with the sound of cow bells gently tinkling amongst the forested slopes in the distance.

Whilst we were there the people from the bike shop phoned and told us our new strong tyres had arrived; so on the way back we called in to La Pedale Drobetu to have them fitted.

We now have 1 new wheel and 2 new tyres, as well as a mini service being done. So hopefully we are now all set for the last part of the journey to Istanbul.

After we left the bike shop we contacted our new found Romanian friend, Dorian, to see if he knew anyone who might be able to get our solar charger powerpack working again. He came round later to our hotel with a friend and, over a shared coffee, found that the solar panels worked fine but the connecting lead had a poor connection. So off we went to this shop/electronics workshop and a new lead was constructed out of spares whilst we waited, so that our solar charger is now working. We offered to pay for the work but they wouldn’t accept anything for this.

Such kindness and generosity – the bike shop people, Dorian and his friends, the electronics shop… a lovely welcome from friends in Romania.

All set now to head for Bulgaria which might take 3 days on the road.