Danube Day 17: Silistra, Bulgaria to Adamclisi, Romania
Total Distance 72 km
See end of post for map, elevation profile, and GPX file
Trip overview can be found here.
With a monster day behind us and only two days left between us and the Black Sea we were pumped. We were really excited to know that we would soon be reaching our goal and our enthusiasm was enough to put all other negatives in check. That is until we hit the cyclist’s worst nightmare.
What might that be? Well we’ve had dogs chasing us, dodged potholes, been run off the road by transport trucks, ridden through rain and heat, but all this pales in comparison to what we were about to experience… cobblestone.
If you have never ridden your bike over cobblestone before consider yourself lucky. Even the nicest cobblestone is enough to get anyone aggravated. There is no massage chair that can make your butt feel quite like a saddle over cobblestone. The bone jarring vibrations are enough to make a grown man cry.
Well that might be a bit of an exaggeration considering I didn’t cry, but I sure did whine a lot. The pavement was punctuated with a couple hundred meters of cobblestone at random intervals. It was clear that as the cobblestone got too bad for cars to drive on they would just pave over it. But where it was still drivable they left it.
It was certainly annoying. Luckily the scenery was beautiful. We had entered the wine growing region and vineyards were lining the hillsides. And there were more happy seeming people out working and waving to us.
It was 133 km between Silistra and Constanta. So we considered making it another monster day, but there were some serious hills compounded by the cobblestone we decided to split it in two. We set our sights on Adamclisi since it was basically right in the middle.
There is no designated camping or other accommodations for that matter between Silistra and Constanta so it was necessary to camp. We kept our eyes open after about 40km thinking it might be worth stopping is we see something like a forest. Nothing materialized as it was all vineyards or other orchards and clearly private land.
We considered taking the “ask the locals” approach, but instead when we got to Adamclisi we just asked the cops. The police station was closed but we got there about 5 min before an officer came in off patrol. So we asked him. His English was enough to understand what we wanted and he directed us to the playground right next to the police station.
We thought it was kind of a bad spot, but he assured us we wouldn’t be bothered and to just yell for him if anything happened, as he lived at the police station. So we set up camp and got to cooking. I walked down to the closest corner store and got us some victory beers.
It was quite a scene in town. Everyone was out, kids were playing in the street and the adults were watching and chatting. It was a very different view of life than we had seen in other towns.
Everywhere else in Romania we seldom saw anyone between the ages of 16 and 60. It seemed like the kids were being taken care of by the grandparents while the parents were earning a living elsewhere. We conjectured that since this town was close enough to Constanta people could actually commute to where the work was. Regardless of what was actually happening we noticed a difference.
Even the kids were more respectful. As we were cooking dinner a trio of boys between 8-10 years old came to the park to play. They were a little stand-offish but clearly curious. We did our best to communicate what we were doing. But then they got to business. They wanted me to spin them on the merry-go-round.
Of course I obliged, first backwards then forwards, then backwards again. The giggles and tears running from their drying eyes was priceless. After 15 minutes I started to get tired but they insisted I spin them some more. I gave them a couple more rounds and collapsed on the grass. They seemed happy and spun themselves for a bit.
It was pretty much dark when they finally said goodbye. Over dinner we reminisced about our best and worst days of the trip. We thought about our friends and wished they would have been able to make the whole journey with us. We crawled into our tents with happy memories and thinking about more to come.