Departure and the Danube Delta
The morning we left home was hectic. My brother has been away for 6 weeks and so we only had Saturday to pack up for a 10am departure on Sunday. Luckily you can rely on British trains to be running late and so we managed to catch it with plenty of time to spare. It was then a simple job of finding a hotel in Luton and bike boxes for the plane.
The morning of the flight we managed to find a bikeshop that sold cardboard bike boxes for £3 each. It’s annoying paying for something they would otherwise chuck out but it saved us the trouble of posting the heavy duty reusable bike bags back home once in Romania.
It was difficult getting the boxes to the airport, we carried them to the train station and then persuaded the shuttle bus to drop them off outside the airport whilst we furiously peddled behind it. Boxing the bikes up in the airport was an absolute nightmare for me (Thomas was a bit more chill), we were racing the clock to take our bikes apart for the first time, stuff them in the box, stuff the luggage in and close them up again. Next time I will definitely get them packed up way earlier or even the night before. The luggage check-in went well though and Whizz Air didn’t seem to care that most of our luggage was also crammed in the cardboard bike box.
By the time we had put the bikes back together in the airport at Constanța it was late but thankfully we had thought ahead and decided it would be a good idea to book a hotel close by.
The cycling the day after we landed was immensely boring and hot. It was a poor, desolate wasteland that we pushed through as quickly as possible. The temperature was 30+ Celsius most of the day and so we were on a constant lookout for more water. Eventually it was nearing lunchtime so we decided to leave the main road and head towards a small village we spotted on the map. The road quality instantly dropped to old tarmac and dirt tracks. We found a tiny cornershop with an old woman podding broadbeans on the porch and a man leaning against a nearby house puffing on a pipe. Water was a necessity at this point so we braved the stares and went into the shop and bought a couple of large bottles of water and some food to get us through to the evening.
Our original plan had been to cycle diagonally into the village and then diagonally out of the other side so we were still making onwards progress. This turned out to be impossibe as everything other than the main road turned into a dirt track between houses, which slowly vanished into the fields on the outskirts of the village. We wasted about an hour trying to find a proper road leading out but eventually gave up and accepted we would have to cycle back the way we came.
After lunch the landscape started to improve and get more green as we drew closer to the Danube Delta.
Our first Romanian campsite was in a small town halfway to the delta. It was beside a lake and the owner offered us Perch, potatoes and homemade wine for dinner. 45 Lei (£9 each) seems to be the going rate for a meal in a Romanian household.
The campsite man sat and watched television whilst we ate. The meal and his home made wine was delicious. In the evening we walked along the beach and I tried to recreate the pier photo from Denmark during my Baltic Sea cycle tour last year.
The next day we cycled over small hills for the final stretch to the Danube. It was mostly miles and miles of sunflowers.
From Tulcea we caught a 5 hour ferry to Sfantu Gheorghe, the village at the very tip of the delta, where it joins Black Sea.
On the 5 hour boat trip up the river we chatted to a French couple cycling around the Black Sea (partly by train) and an Austrian hitchhiking wherever he felt like. On our arrival at Sfantu Gheorghe it felt like an African village with dirt streets and a cow busy chomping the neighbour’s vines. We joined the French cyclists on our ride through the town and to the beach at the mouth of the delta. Whilst they decided to wild camp on the sand, we decided that Dolphin Camping was a more relaxing option and safer basecamp for three or four days exploring the Delta.
The mosquitos weren’t as bad as I feared they would be and we managed to have a relaxing evening.
We decided to have a rest day in Sfantu Gheorghe and pay for a 4 hour boat trip through the delta.
The first half was to the Pelican colony out at sea. I took lots of photos but my camera lens wasn’t strong enough to zoom in a lot as the birds flapped away.
The second half of the trip was in the opposite direction to a natural canal-like river covered in lilies.
Can you spot the frog?
We caught the 7am catamaran the following day which dropped us back in Tulcea. From there we wanted to catch a bus or train to Braila or Buzău but we couldn’t find a bus that would take our bikes and the panniers. In the end we decided to cycle to Brăila and then on towards Transylvania, or vampire territory.
The cycle tour so far:
Romania – Departure and the Danube Delta