Romania was the most Latino country we’ve come across in Eastern Europe. Full of impulsive energy with a dash of chaos and bravado and amazing hospitality. We stayed with Rasvan in Cluj Napoca who cooked a mean lentil soup and whose mum and grandmother did a local cabbage and pasta speciality and pancakes with homemade jam. Now that was a treat after campgas noodles 7 days in a row.
Unfortunately, the warnings of some that we should be wary of some of the Roma (gypsy) people proved true when a woman and a girl jumped off the back of a horse drawn cart and nicked some stuff from the back of Jen’s bike while we were on the road (including passport and cash etc) But given that the cart was being drawn by a rather recalcitrant and slow donkey it was quite easy to chase back after them and rant until the items were returned. The father who was driving the cart then had the nerve to ask us for a cigarette. While this was all regrettable we did get our stuff back and if we attempted such a retrieval in inner city Bristol in the UK ,where we we’re from, we may have been more likely to have a knife or worse pulled on us. Anyhow this triggered a long debate about the circumstance of the Roma of which we know little. Certainly the family that tried to rob us seemed to have zip nothing apart from a cart, a plastic tarpaulin and a donkey to their name.
We’d like to know about Roma culture and social background to put the incident into perspective. They certainly seem to be marginalised within Romania.
Elsewhere we had incredible hospitality from Alina and her family, who let us camp in their garden after we asked them for a safe place to camp when we met her by the roadside at dusk. They cooked us a hearty evening meal and breakfast and gave us a carrier bag of their homegrown produce to set us on our way.
The main problem we had in Romania were the snarling dogs that love to chase bikes but leave the four by four landcruisers and ubiquitous Dacias unharmed. This did mean that Jet could wave a big stick around making macho noises and feel like Indiana Jones momentarily (much to amusement of locals).
We then bored our way through the Carpathian mountain range on the truck route getting hotter and hotter as we reached the Danube valley. Cycling in 35 o c temperatures is a bit like jogging in a sauna with a backpack. But well… a bit of masochism is good for the soul…maybe.
We are now in Bulgaria which is a bit more placid as the Bulgarians seem more reserved but friendly. We have cycled to the black sea coast and are now resting our leathery bums on a beach and drinking a few Zarguza the local Bulgarian brew. Good News! Our Iranina visa code has been granted the first step to getting the actual stamp when we reach Istanbul.
Billy and Bertle (the bikes) are holding up and had a good clean on a beach next to a Romanian industrial complex (odd site for a beach) as we waited six hours for a boat to take us the short distance (10 mins) across the Danube to Bulgaria. Our leather bike saddles have now shaped perfectly to their owners and show strange patterns mimicking the arses of their owners. Look closely and you can see the shape of the Indian subcontinent.
Sci Fi Salt Mine (with Ferris wheel inside) Near Turda in Romania
Emerging from behind a Haystack after camping in a friendly Romanian farmers field.
Captaining the ferry across the Danube into Bulgaria (us and a fat lorry were the only passengers)