Tuesday, 8 May 2012

8 May Stage 26 Giurgiu - Razgrad

Dep 11.10     Arr 1845     Dist  76.5km    Total  2885km

As expected I didn't sleep well, overtired maybe or a combination of a ridiculously uncomfortable rock hard bed and stuff on my mind. I should really have been grateful I had a bed at all. I had no Rumanian currency left because I had spent it all, not expecting to be here you see, so I had to go into the town at the crack of dawn to get some more to pay for the room and also to pay for any bike bits etc. It was a scruffy and unloved sort of a town, or to be fair, maybe a scruffy part of a nice town. I came back and had a crap (note no comma here) breakfast which consisted of muddy coffee and dry bread with cheese and ham. I was so thirsty I asked for water and he brought me a tiny bottle which evaporated before I swallowed it.

I had to be reaady for the "halb neun" which could have been half eight or half nine, so I went and packed my bags, ready for any eventuality. A small square man turned up just after half eight and spoke no English. There was a new receptionist by this time and she was infinitely more helpful, translating between us. I told hime I needed a new wheel and he said "market" and beckoned me to follow, checking I had money as an afterthought. We wandered through the streets. He'd say something I didn't understand and I'd reply with something he didn't understand, but we got on ok, which made me chuckle a bit. The market was like a bazaar with a two foot wide aisle and stuff hanging from the ceilings all over the place. We walked past two bike shops and found nothing appropriate. Too wide or too small. My mate was starting to mumble. The next place got him excited. There it was. We did the deal and away we went with a wheel, a seven gear cassette and a new tyre for a total of £16. I really wanted him to transfer the cassette from the damaged wheel onto the new one but it couldn't be done for some reason. I insisted but he was adamant. We did the job in the hotel reception which was about all it was good for. I saw him straight and went up to the room to change into cycling gear only to find the room had been cleaned. I made do with what I had on. I just wanted to get going again.

It was a long round about way out of town to the bridge over the Danube to Ruse in Bulgaria and it was a sad way to see the last of this country and my old mate the river. Scruffy buildings, dirty streets, junkyards with snarling dogs, people standing around or shuffling about. I did though see enough good parts of the country over the last week or so to have overall very good lasting memories of Rumania.

Bulgaria started badly although the road was the old E70 again. It was a long uphill drag out of Ruse and into the countryside. I wasn't happy about the bike for some reason. I know they were cheap parts and maybe shouldn't expect too much but I decided there and then to find a proper bike shop down the line and get it sorted. I probably hadn't realised at the time that I had been climbing since I crossed the river. The bike did seem to be performing better later on but I'm still not sure. The road went through no towns or villages for an hour or so just wide open countryside which became undulating with the associated ups and downs. Unfortunately, the ups were long and the downs were short. Remember me complaining about the boring, flat countryside of Hungary. I take it back. I was short of food and water and decided to stop at the next eating place. I plodded on and on until I came to a small and pretty little town named Tsar Kaloyan. I did stop at the first cafe I saw and ordered spaghetti bolognese with an extra portion of chips. I sat with my kindle and learned a few Bulgarian phrases which I tried out on the waitresses, much to their amusement. The food was great and I felt well rested but as usual the last part of the ride dragged. There was a bit of spitting rain but I could see with my now vast experience of Central and Eastern European weather that it wouldn't develop and then I came to a big downhill and didn't pedal for 5km. The town came soon after that and I cruised around until I found a small nice family hotel with a Benny Hill impersonator explaining everything to me in German. I got all the batteries on charge and had a great shower then wandered over the road for a beer. I came back to the digs and realised they had a restaurant and asked for a menu. It was a bit surreal but it was Chinese. I ordered chicken and potatoes, delicious. Back in the room now watching Liverpool do what they should have done the other day.

I spoke to the FIG representative, Terry, today and have finalised the arrival date at 25th May which is a Friday.

Today's track


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