Budapest to Byzantium. Days 10 and 11. Islaz to Ruse.

After yesterday’s 115 miles, we were looking for an easy one today. Not to be… The heat is really getting to me and the distances racking up. Today ended up at 91 miles of more Romanian  ‘village to village’ cycling. It’s also getting to the point where even the slightest gradient is soul destroying. As a result I spent much of the day’s ride praying our stop in Ruse (Bulgaria) would be lovely, and by lovely I mean, nice place, clean room, decent hotel – I was praying for that, as anything less might not enable me to persuade Matt to go for a rest day tomorrow… I was in luck.

So to the cycling… This part of Romania is as about as rural as it can get. And the cycling would be great, if the road surface was, and the heat 20 degrees lower!! We basically spent all day cycling 5km in the countryside, then 3km through a village…repeat 50 times! Each village is almost identical to the other – with people sitting in the shade on the side of the road… that’s it really – they are just sitting there. Very simple rural folk, who, when the sun is a little lower, travel to the fields on their horse drawn carts ant tend fields manually. Here are some shots:

Think I mentioned this yesterday, and it is definitely worth mentioning again.. the village, coutryside, village, countryside motif in 35 degree heat really does destroy you, as does some of the abject poverty you can’t fail to notice – but in the villages there is one amazing thing to be experienced… The children… They are so so excited by the appearance of 2 feral, cycling men, from another place, maybe even planet, by the looks on their faces, they literally charge into the road to assume the high 5 position – accompanied by shouts of ‘hello’ and more commonly ‘hola’. These shots don’t really capture it but I can tell you, it is quite quite uplifting. And sometimes downright dangerous…

We continued along this repeating pedal for 5 hours, stopping only at petrol stations for more pre-packaged croissants and seeds with salt. I literally pedalled 90 miles today on a packet of seeds…

Eventually we reached the Romanian border city of Giurgiu – Celtic played here 2 years ago I think… It distrubs me – as I have no idea how this place can even have a team! It barely has roads. To be honest, we were ready to say goodbye to Romania and re-enter Bulgaria.

We made the decision last night to leave the Danube here and travel through Bulgaria from Ruse to Sunny Beach (who wouldn’t!!). To continue to Constanta would possibly have put our arrival time in Istanbul in jeopardy. I think it is the right decision as the cycling has been gruelling, and will cut around 150 miles out.

So today we are in the city of Ruse – and we are taking a day off here. The city is lovely and the hotel fantastic. Very much needed as for the next 2 days we will be on shoulders of motorways as we head to the Black Sea coast. Ruse seems lovely – and is the perfect resting point before we continue.

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