First of all I want to thank all those of you who lit candles for me over the past couple of months. I have used all the goodwill of my friend above to arrive safely in Dobreta-Turnu Severin (Romania) today. The last 20km of today were along the E70 highway. There was no bicycle path or whatsoever. I never really prayed before, but during this hour long ride I made up for that. It was hell. Only people with a death wish should ride this road. Unfortunately, there was no other option for me today. I now laugh about it and it greatly contributed to my adventure, but never again. And please light some more candles for me to top up my balance.
This perfectly fitted my expectations of riding in Romania however. As did the rest of my days so far. I saw horse and carriage in the main roads, was charged by angry dogs and rode from perfectly asphalted roads straight into unpaved slalom routes along ditches. The nature is beautiful. I biked between what are called the ‘Iron Gates’. Steep rocks reach 400 metres in the air, straight from the river. The road was quiet and everywhere people were fishing, sometimes with as much as 20 rods. My arms hurt as much as my feet after all the waving to villagers setting in the evening sun on the benches before their houses. I would say forget about the Wachau or Donau Durchbruch, this is where the river really shows off. The leaves on the trees are slowly turning brown and yellow, and in the October sun, the hills sometimes looks as being afire.
There are some notable differences between Serbia and Romania. In Serbia all the street dogs were dead and rotting along the road. The stench of it guided me out of the country and the smell of death will forever remind me of this part of my trip. Romania smells like fresh sawed and chopped wood, mixed with the smell of the burning thereof. I have now two sticks on my bike however, the walking pole and a dog stick to keep off the most horrible ones. The Romanian people have darker skin color and seldom seem to smile. But different then Serbia, I wave a lot now. Serbians were not so surprised by a cyclist, Romanians the more. Romania is also a country where the licence plate of a car does not say anything about its driver. Do not expect to speak English with the driver of an English car, or German with one in a German car. Cattle is no longer behind a fence and not every time with a shepherd. I had to avoid collisions with sheep, cows and horses blocking the way.
Moments of great euforic feelings are balanced by moments of complete desperation. The same goes the other way around. After a day of fighting rain and wind, I am rewarded with a perfect camp spot, a magnificent sunset and clear night sky. After a tough uphill, I am rewarded with a cool descent. And after a beautiful ride on quiet roads, feeling more alive then ever it would only be normal to ride the highway and del as good as dead. There is balance always. The most perfect views are stained by the unbelievable mess the Romanians leave. What a ride along the highway can teach you…