Day 13 for the records. I had a very early prayer walk along the beach and was blessed with a light show which could have been a present from God. Made me very humble and grateful for my eventful and safe journey so far. Crossed the border soon and found a man helping newcomers to by the road tax from a machine. Changed Lei to Lewa. Drove to Varna and stopped at the harbour first for coffee and cake. Found a great restaurant with a view. Drove up to town and found parking near the Archeological Museum which was as small miracle. Only to find the museum as all other public places of interest closed because of another public holiday. A little sad but I decided to make the best of it and still cycle around the city. Was not in vain.
Mystical morning at the beach of the Black Sea:
Next comes Varna.
First stop at Harbor restaurant Nemo, fine dining with a view.
Archaeological Museum and Roman Bath closed. Such a pity..
Moved on to Nessebar which is on a peninsular connected only via a small dam.
Day 13 for the records. The boat trip started at 07:00 a.m. and we were 5 people. My neighbours, a German couple from near Stuttgart and a Dutch couple. Short trip with the car to the landing and off we go. Chilly this morning, we all had jackets and hats, only the German guy forgot his hat and suffered in the cold wind when the boat sped.
It is needless to say, that in this case as in so many others, reality exceeded imagination by miles and miles. The Delta is so vast, sometimes with secretive narrow channels, sometimes with wide lakes, with glass clear water, with an enormous complex vegetation and a birdlife reminding of the time of creation.
The photos shown are painful selection of so many other.
After the boat trip we returned to the camping ground and I left soon to the south towards the border to Bulgaria and had Mamaia in mind for the first stop.
Later found a beach in Vana Veche, last village before the border. Was a bit too optimistic what a motor-home can do in the sand.
Day 12 for the records. Had a short night because went to bed late after posting and working in the nearby Cocktail Bar. And because the early morning party freaks leaving that Bar woke me up at about 04h30. Went for a stroll about 6 a.m. and found a peaceful harbour promenade with a picturesque sun rise.
Early woken up by party finishers, motor-home was shaken a couple of times, ups. But rewarded with a first class sunrise.
After that relaxed stroll I headed for Murighol further into the Delta. It took about 40 km on a country road. As there was no boat trip from the camp site anymore today, I cycled towards the harbor but could not find any organizers. So I explored the neighboring fields and channels and found my first pelicans!
Day 11 for the records. Cosmin and Marco Polo warned me of the rather aggressive traffic in Bucharest. But my plans to reach the city center with the most points of interest evolved like this: Walk to the nearest stop of the hop on – hop off buses. But they start only after 10 am. Cycle to that. Hmmm Cycle to the main boulevard and see what happens. Great choice. Nothing special happened with the traffic and I cycled safely all morning.
Bucharest was a busy place but much better organized than I had imagined. Plenty of impressive buildings and squares, restaurants and cafes, parks and churches. Time to move on and head for one of the main targets of the journey: The Delta of the mighty river Danube.
Day 10 for the records. Breakfast at Cosmin’s parents and small talk as good as possible. His father guided me to a free parking ground and then drove me to the area where Cosmin wanted to meet me for coffee. Intense conversation about the world and God. About the truth and money. We found completely common ground, that Jesus is Lord and this makes even sense from a logical point of view.
Left for Bucharest about lunch time and had the welcome tailwind. Found the planned Restaurant Parking area, but looked for a supermarket parking lot nearer to the city center. Google Maps guided me through increasing traffic safely to a Penny Market. Found a spot near a side wall, went for some little shopping, was not noted and stayed there all night (again).
Not much more to say about this day, I left only at lunch time and after arrival went shopping, asked a young lady for a coffee with Wifi. She offered to guide me to it, it was literally around the corner. She did not have time to have a coffee, unfortunately. But I had time to organise photos, do some posting and enjoy myself.
I say quite a challenge how to sightsee in that busy place. But tomorrow will be another day.
Relaxed morning at Penny’s parking and at about 8:00 I left for the short stretch to Peles Castle. They should open at 09:15. Maybe I can walk around before that and even find a C+C somewhere nearby. Parking cost me 30 Lei / 7 Euros despite attempt to negotiate. It was really cold with 6 dgr C and humid. But the walk up from the parking to the castle was warming me up a bit and really a pleasant exercise. I found some stalls in preparation for the public holiday and a dominating restaurant across the even more dominating castle. I tried my luck and went in and found some seven ladies chatting around a large desk. Can I have a coffee, please? I caused some amusement, they all smiled at me and one jumped up and said, of course. Anything else? Yes, a croissant if you have. Of course….
As on the 1st of May they only opened the ticket shop at 10:15 and I heard a guide saying that the tour through the interior is only very short I gave it a miss. Strolled around a bit longer and back to the car.
The next target was now Curtea Arges. Took directions from Garmin which I had already checked the day before. Led to a long and winding very hilly road, but the alternative was about 1 1/2 hours longer. As the next fuel station was not at the corner of the turn off I had to turn around for one on the previous main road. Only then to seed that Garmin found now out that the main road is only 5 minutes longer. Filled diesel a bit later and had an ok passage.
From Arges I drove to Ramnicu Valcea to meet Cosmin, a friend of Sara whom she met in Brazil and is still in touch with him. The route led across a hill with a road in an unspeakable bad condition. Not only potholes but sunken “basins” on the side demanded superior driving skills, which I possess, of course… 🙂
We met where he pointed me, he then guided me to his parent’s house where I was invited to stay over. But before they fed me like a king. As the Easter weekend was just over, there were leftovers just welcome for that occasion of an surprise visitor. Very grateful to meet some locals after all and to be able to ask about God and country.
Day 8 for the records. Smooth ride to Brasov, after a short search found parking near historic center. Light but stubborn rain. But there were meters which only took coins, no cards. Did not have any Lei yet. Asked in the hotel lobby. No currency exchange. Pointed me to up the road. Hoped not to get a ticket in the meantime, found ING DIBA Bank, but only ATM. So drew money in local currency, 200 Lei, cost me 45,2 Euro. Asked in the hotel lobby again, but even no till, no cash, no splitting of the 10 Lei note. Funny enough, the money collectors from the parking meters came just then and changed the note for me. As in Timisoara I walked slowly in the rain to town enjoying low level of actions all around.
My aim was actually to go now to Sinaia for Peles Castle and then carry on to Curtea Arges for the Monastery with the King’s tombs. Other then I was caught in (Orthodox) Easter traffic and at some stage did 20 km in 2 hours. That just led me to Saina where I was welcomed with a hefty thunderstorm. Luckily I found a spot at a Penny parking lot and could relax and even have my home cooked supper. There was no thinking of visiting the castle that afternoon any more.
Later I had the desire to still find a coffee shop with Wifi to do some postings. For that I drove to town which was up about 50 m higher and crowded with Easter holidaymakers and their cars. At the end of the main road I turned right even further up in a steep and winding road. What do you do here Hartinger was a valid question! Only to find a negative one way street ending in a bend I just accessed. I turned around and parked there reversing into the space. A few steps further were the stairs leading back to the main road and across the road was the coffee shop with Wifi and excellent products and very friendly staff.
When I finished my postings I returned back to the Penny ground and had a peaceful nights rest.
Day 7 for the records. Had a quiet night at the parking lot and did not bother for a breakfast at home but speculated with the usual a bit later. To start the cycling there is a procedure: unlock the wire lock, unlock the rack fasteners, lift down the bike, loosen the handlebar bolts, turn the handlebar 90 degrees, tighten the bolts, put lock and key into bar-bag, mount speedometer, mount head- and tail-light. In reverse when I come back. So it is a very important decision whether you go for the bike or go for a walk. Here in Hermannstadt I went for the bike, which was perfect. As most of the time I did not look into a map, followed my nose, the crowd and my instinct and found enough points of interest.
Although I had my relaxed coffee time I finished my excursion in about two hours. So I found it was time to move on. I had studied my Marco Polo in the morning and found a recommended “adventure tour” to the north towards Schässburg. I followed it step by step on this friendly sunny day.
Birtan, surely the best kept fortress of all. What a presence. Another one, top right.
I reached Schässburg about 16h and hoped for a parking near the historic city. Turned to Penny parking lot and started on foot. 500 m later was the staircase to the hill.
Looking at all the stops and paces I had an unbelievable day of beauty. Needless to say I walked 10.000 steps plus, no bike after Hermannstadt at all. Remember the procedure. Another gift from the heavens was finally a camping ground in town. In the planning with Google Maps I found only one out of town in a hotel garden. This time Garmin made its point and directed me to Aquaris Hotel and Camping. Could even maintain my motorhome for water and sanitation.
Day 5 for the records. Early start about half past six. Easy going out of the city of Belgrade. Fill up the tank and get the daily cappuccino with croissant before the border to Romania. Border procedures relaxed, a very attractive lady on the Romanian side. She advised me that I can drive until Timisoara and only then by the road tax. So I did. The guy at the fuel station was kind. Instead of forcing me to by for 30 days, offered me 2X7 days. First surprise. Was more work and less income for him. Looking for parking there was quick. I asked at a another fuel station near the city center and they said I could even stay overnight. Second surprise. On the bike with pullover and wind breaker, it was chilly and windy.
Another Orthodox Church with broadcasting the service to the outside via speakers. The priests and the choir sing alternating and that very beautiful and I for myself and some others were pulled towards the entrance. As I described from Belgrade, movements, coming and going was accepted throughout the mess.
In Chinatown in San Francisco they have their red balloons. Here in Timisoara they are more pragmatic, but not less colorful.
The big main square with other historic buildings and my fitness and transport aid mountain bike.
As Timisoara was not as large as I thought I decided to drive on to Hermannstadt, Sibiu in Romanian. The weather was cold and wet anyway and gusty winds as usual. But this time I had strong tailwind which was welcome for the mileage of my vehicle.
Here the small village of Sibiel. On arrival I forgot why I planned to visit that place. Walked around, enjoyed my time, found no hint. Left soon for Hermannstadt. After about 20 minutes I remembered: they host a famous collection of Ikonen. But they had closed when I arrived anyway. Getting old slowly… Parking in Hermannstadt (Sibiu). After a short circle around the center I found this public parking lot for 2 Lei/hour (= 0,25 E/hour) for max. 24 hours. In perfect walking distance to the historic city.
I must mention this. I cannot count any more the number of little prayers for little things like parking, a reasonable coffee shop with Wifi, a currency exchange and so on. It makes me very grateful that God is watching over me.