Another sleepless night! The truckers who I’d eaten with disappeared with ‘girlfriends’ and I was left alone. The other truckers at the restaurant were a vulgar bunch and were as suspicious of me as I was of them. One particularly sleazy guy invited me to his cab but when I saw the really awful porn on the windows I politely declined and took my chances down on the riverbank.
I pitched camp in the dark sandwiched between the river, the railway track and a busy road. As this was a busy port with barges and trains coming and going all night, I didn’t get a wink of sleep.
I was up at dawn and headed into town for coffee as my gas supply had run out . I was. wondering why the coffee shops were taking so long to open when the penny dropped! I was in a new time zone and would have to wait another hour.
Eventually I got going, heading east towards Bucharest. As it was Sunday I decided to take the main road, thinking that there wouldn’t be much traffic.
It ended up being a long and difficult day on a busy road with a very small hard shoulder. Several times trucks passed within a few inches and Ithought it was all over.
After 190k I reached Slatina a small town on a river half way to Bucharest . I’m camped in a Coucoscpu era holiday camp in a forest where I hope to get a good nights sleep
In trouble again
I guess my first impressions of Romance were coloured by my preconceptions. Also I’d had a bad experience on my first night and the temperatures were soaring, It’s over 40 degrees here in Bucharest at the moment. Also my first day was on a really busy road through provincial towns. I noticed many differences from Yugoslavia. The language is much easier to understand. It’s a mixture of many Mediterranean languages and sounds like Latin. It’s much dirtier. There’s litter everywhere ! There are packs of mange you looking feral dogs roaming the streets and in the countryside. The carcasses of dead dogs are spread out every few km on the main road. The live ones often chase me and I’m glad I’ve got my rabies vaccinations because I can’t outrun them on the many hills The women wear bright garish clothes and the men like to roll up their t shirts to show off their midriff, regards of the size of their paunch! It’s all very bohemian as you would expect in a country with so many gypsies-and it’s ok to use that word here. The policeman in Bucharest patrol on Segeways. Food and drink is incredibly cheap. You can buy a 2.5litre bottle of beer for 2 €. Last night I cooked gourmet campsite meal for myself with a bottle of wine and lots of fruit and salad for less than a fiver. In rural areas there’s no distinction between shop , bar and restaurant. Everyone who’s open for business provides all services-and more! OK enough of my wandering. Let’s get on with the story I left my riverside campsite early determined to make Bucharest before nightfall. It was more than 200k away and as there was a fairly stiff headwind it would mean cycling all day in more than 35 degrees of heat. The morning cycle was uneventful though I was becoming increasingly worried by close encounters with truckers on the busy main road. I stopped for lunch at a supermarket in a provincial town and noticed that I was only a km away from Jupiter City, the biggest retail park in Romania. Normally I’d avoid places like this like the plague but there was a Decathlon there and I needed gas. 2 hours later after a dose of retail therapy-I only bought gas and a pair of socks, buothe air con and the coffees were wonderful! This delay blew any chance of making Bucharest by evening but I decided to cycle on for another 100k anyway I was really hating this main road and was considering getting off it into the countryside when the decision was made for me. I noticed that the road was getting busier and bigger with 2 lanes in both directions Oh Shit! I was on a motorway! The difficulty is that there’s a lot of variation in the style of roads and motorways here, there’s no warming signs and it’s an easy mistake to make. I couldn’t go back and the only option was to pedal like hell to the next exit which was 20 k away. Curiously, I felt safer on the motorway than on the main road as there was a good hard shoulder. I thought that I’d gotten away with it when I saw flashing lights at the exit ahead. There were 2 squad cars and 4 stoney faced police men waiting. They barked at me in Romanian and I knew I was in pretty deep trouble! And who do I have to thank for rescuing me this time?-My Irish passport and Packie Bonner no less! One of the older coppers was my age and asked me if I remembered Packies famous save back in the 80s . I did a few Packie impressions which may have saved my skin as I heard afterwards that cycling on the motorway is a criminal offence in n Romania.
Anyway I had to leave the motorway immediately and found myself in deepest gypsey county where there were flocks of goats and chickens at every turn in a maze of country lanes. I stopped for water at a lovely quaint holy well and was soon surrounded by a group of youngsters. When I explained my predicament they insisted on providing a cycle escort for me to the main road
I was feeling emotionally and physically drained by my earlier experience and decided to call it a day after 170 k in a little town calls Titu where I cooked a lovely meal in my campsite down by the town pond and after a few beers with local lads, was soon snoozing contentedly .
Pains in the ass- and in other places
It was only a short 60k spin from the lovely pond side campsite to Bucharest. I got a good nights sleep despite being woken twice by feral dogs on the prowl. After yesterday’s drama, I was in high spirits and looking forward to a good rest in the city. The road surface was dreadful and this along with the oppressive heat-it was 38 degrees by 10.00am, slowed me down a lot. I was passing through the market gardening area of Romania on The outskirts of Bucharest. It reminded me of what the towns where I now live in Ireland used to be 50 years ago with horse drawn carts overloaded with piles of fruit and. veg on the road from dawn. There were droves of labourers picking potatoes and harvesting peaches. There was no shortage of food but I was really disappointed that I couldn’t record all of this as my phone was still refusing to charge on either my solar charger or by plugging in during my morning break. Various aches and pains are making cycling difficult. I’ve noticed that my saddle sores have become worse . Every adventure cyclist suffers from saddle sores. Some try changing the position of the saddle, using various creams or putting on a second pair of shorts but the only solution really is to grin and bear it until your ass has built up resistance and literally becomes one with the saddle. It’s supposed to happen after a few weeks on the road but I’m still waiting. When I sweat a lot the saddle sores get so bad that cycling is impossible and that’s when I know that I need a rest day.
When I eventually reached the city it was too early to check into a hostel so I decided to try to resolve my phone problem. A really helpful Chinese guy in a little workshop quickly diagnosed the issue which lots of techy nerds I’ve asked couldn’t. The port which receives the charging cable was clogged with debris and dust after a month of being on the road. He spent an hour giving it a good clean and service and only charged me €2 for his time. I’m safely chilling in the Antique Hostel, one of the best I’ve ever seen.
I’ve met some amazing fellow travellers, eaten mounds of food and had one hell of a blast in the Irish pub just around the corner. I’ve been persuaded to take a full days rest here tomorrow as I’m now well ahead of schedule and hopefully my wounds will have been healed enough to allow me to continue eastwards to my next destination-Odessa on the Black Sea and from there it really is going to be a voyage into the unknown……
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