OE Day 33 Ruse to Veliko Tarnivo 121 km

Our first full day in Bulgaria took us into the rural North. Lovely ride with the oven temperature slowly increasing and the best hill saved for the last miles.

Poor or changing. Massive derelict factories on the edges of towns; huge well cultivated fields (with no signs of the major machinery needed); horse n cart; deserted villages in places, as though the population has moved. Road side shrubs of apple, sloe, damson. Still all litter free. Good 5G.

The region we’re in is famous, apparently, for rose petal products. For an explore tomorrow.

OE Day 32 Bucharest to Ruse 104 km

A quiet route was promised. Apart from the 25 km to get out of Bucharest navigating the road works and traffic. And the section crossing the border with its 10 mile queue of lorries. Twinned with Dover.

Perhaps the humidity, thirsty work today so we kept stopping at road side shops. The villages hug the roadside. The fields roast in the heat.

The border between Romania and Bulgaria is down the middle of the Danube. Which has grown to 2.4km wide. It’s crossed via the Friendship bridge built by the two nations. Too narrow to stop, just side enough for a car to pass. Thankfully the lorries are in queue.

Ruse population 150000, was in its heyday late 19, early 20 Century. As a trading port: the buildings we’re told are reminiscent of Vienna. Certainly not western though the Cyrillic script everywhere provides a clue it’s not. The central plaza is a delight: full of locals enjoying the evening heat with kids happily thrashing around on scooters.

OE Day 31 Targoviste to Bucharest 86km

Today’s ride was designed to minimise the heavy traffic we’d encounter entering Bucharest. Cycling from the old capital to the new with its circa 2 million population.

So through villages and new roads with lots of drainage being added, presumably for future housing. Everywhere had dogs, most lazing in the sun. A few chasing enough to speed us up. Most of the coffee is from vending machines, sugar a non optional inclusion. Sometimes the ubiquitous coke is good, you know what you’re getting and the is the zero option. Quenches thirst which sneaks up on you on the heat no matter how much you drink.

The last 20km is busy. Some lorries pass close enough to count the fillings in the driver’s teeth. On the whole it was good. Busy traffic flow increases towards the city centre: cycle lanes are welcome though and we take them.

Tonight’s food was in the delightful Caru cu Bere. Tomorrow an explore.

OE Day 30 Curtea de Arges to Targoviste 129km

A downhill day, with lots of fun variety. When we descended from Balea Lac we’d left Transylvania and entered another region, Wallacia. Swapping Dracula for Vlad.

Contrasting villages. Dogs abound, a few chased with snarling teeth. Always a good way to get into a higher heart rate zone. Small roads until we entered Pitesti a bustling heavy traffic place. Like the dogs the lane crossing kept us on our toes.

Tonight’s destination, Targoviste is where the Ceausescu’s were tried and executed. Today it is trying to shake off its Soviet architecture past. People need places to stay though so if be more concerned about functionality than new surface gloss. Our hotel hasn’t bothered trying, we’re thinking about the functioning bit.

Tomorrow Bucharest. So book a rest it’ll be!

OE Day 29 Balea Lac to Curtea de Arges 84km

Today’s song. [Teddy] bear’s picnic. Luckily we were in our lycra and cycling camouflage.

To find the bears involved a glorious sweeping decent down the other side of pass. Brakes not optional. Then into the woods. Stopping for expresso fuel the phone made an alarm sound. Up pops a Bear warning public service message. It gained attention.

Easy to spot. At the road side with idiot people stopping and getting out cars, feeding them etc. We’ve took a judicious approach: snap and go. The problem is they are now used to people and expect to get fed.

An undulating tour around a depleted resevoir, some exciting tunnels (dark and potholed: transition glasses don’t transition that fast before back into the valley bottom. Fruit sellers scratch a living.

Curtea de Arges is still a manufacturing town. Soviet architecture reminiscent of Coventry.

Great day