Danube Day 15: Zimnicea to Ruse, Bulgaria
Danube Day 15: Zimnicea to Ruse, Bulgaria
Total Distance 77 km
See end of post for map, elevation profile, and GPX file.
Trip overview can be found here.
Waking up on the beach was really beautiful. We got up around 6:30am and watched the sky change colors. Last night we hung our food up in the trees to keep it away from the dogs that roam on the beach. Everything was still there in the morning and we got it down to start breakfast.
We took our usual two hours to get ready and get on the road. As we were leaving a few border officials came down to make sure we were ok and getting underway. We thanked them again and made off down the road. With only 75km to cover we were feeling pretty excited to get to Ruse and start our much needed rest day.
The landscape in Romania remained unchanged. It went by pretty smooth until we got to the border crossing. We were attempting to cross the only bridge over the Danube that connected Romania and Bulgaria.
We could clearly see the bridge but we could not find a way to get on it. There were several roads and signs pointing in different directions. We eventually stopped at a gas station and they pointed us toward the bridge.
When we finally approached it we saw that there was a toll to cross, which we hoped wouldn’t apply to us. Sure enough as we rode up to the toll booth they raised the gate and waived us through. We only got another 100 yards before we had to stop at the border crossing.
I was a little nervous because I was a few days over my visa. They took our passports, looked them over and then we were in country limbo. At almost every border crossing there is that space where you exit one country but before you have entered another.
In this case it was the Danube Bridge. We crossed over the nearly 2 mile bridge to get our stamps at the Bulgarian border crossing. It would have been nice to have a bike lane on the bridge but we had to ride with traffic. Luckily the traffic was light and the crossing was uneventful.
We made our way into the center of Ruse to find a place to stay. We stopped by the tourist information office to see what hostels were on offer. While Yoshi was in asking about hostels, a woman came up asking if we needed a place to stay.
We are always a little apprehensive when approached by someone overly helpful. But as it turned out she was the owner of the one hostel in town and said she would take us there. Yoshi came out and confirmed that the guy inside said that she was the owner and she would be able to help us.
We followed her to the English Guesthouse and she gave us the run down. It was only 30 euro for a triple. The rooms were clean, breakfast was included and most importantly she let us store our bikes inside.
With the task of finding a place to stay done, we turned to the second most important task, finding something to eat. We got a recommendation for a good Bulgarian place so we thought that would be a good start.
On our way we saw a cyclist on a race bike and thought he might know where a bike shop is. At this point we were almost out of chamois cream and we really wanted to get some more. We caught up with the cyclist and asked if he knew where a bike shop was.
He was really surprised that we had arrived by bicycle and decided we had to be friends. It was like 4pm and while he thought it was a great time for coffee we thought it was the right time for food. We invited him to come with us, but as he had just finished his ride we thought tomorrow might be a better day to get together for coffee. We exchanged numbers and he said we absolutely had to eat the shopska salad.
We arrived at the restaurant and did as instructed. In addition to the shopska salad we got a pile of grilled meat, some bread and beer. It was awesome. It was exactly what we wanted after our ride.
The downtown area of Ruse is really pretty. It has a lot of that old world European charm. With historic buildings, fountains and park benches everywhere, not to mention ice cream and other sweets vendors on every corner. We figured we had to get some ice cream to finish off a proper first day in Bulgaria.
Of all the places we could have taken a rest day we were really stoked to be there amongst friendly, helpful people and copious amounts of grilled meat.
You can download a the GPS file here.
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