OE Bucharest

A city which is hard to define. The “old” inner part is bustling at night with competing bars and restaurants and lots of young people out. Irish bars galore.

Look closely in the day and facades are crumbling or rebuilt. Partly due to conflicting laws after the fall of Ceausescu which means there are still property disputes. You get the sense of development of the city. And how cities act as heat radiators: it’s hot.

The Palace of Parliaments makes an impression. Equally good to find another Meron coffee shop. So a city of contrasts. Paris of the East? Not yet, good to aspire.

Tomorrow is a different ruse….

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

OE Day 28 Sibiu to Balea Lac 99km

A day on the Transfăgărășan Highway,  well the south side ascent. Built by Ceausescu’ orders as a speedy way to mobilise against the Soviets. Made famous by Top Gear, people flock to it on when’s weekends and Bank Holidays.  Today was a Bank Holiday. Luckily we left an hour early, so the 2k traffic jam at the top was manageable.

So a 99km ride and the last 24k goes up to near 7000ft. A few hairpins on the way.  A lot in a forest, the last 10k is open country: you can see what’s ahead. 

To get there we’d gone up from Sibiu onto a fertile plain. The villages didn’t have woodstacks: gas is the order of the day.

Tomorrow we descend the North side..