Bucharest to Razgrad, Bulgaria

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Yesterday, after visiting the PP and trying to buy maps in Bucharest, we spent the rest of the day preparing to change countries again.

This morning, preparation completed (as far as possible), we cycled to Gara de Nord to take 2 trains, the first to Videle, 50km SW of Bucharest, the second to Giurgiu, on the Danube and a border crossing into Bulgaria. Our Bucharesti friend, Radu, recommended this method of reaching the border. The woman in the ticket office said there was no train to Giurgiu and it was not possible. We did it anyway.

Interesting sight en route to station: at least a dozen dogs lying and snoozing together on footpath. There is no shortage of dogs in Romania; on the platform at Videle I saw a dog suckling 9 little pups.

Interesting sight at Gara de Nord: Orient Express, looking very classy; we saw it again at on the bridge over the Danube at Giurgiu. Our trains were not in this league, but they left and arrived on time and were completely satisfactory. There were no gruesome murders on our train.

We left Romania where there was a long queue of trucks waiting to enter, then rode across the Danube which looked drab and industrial, and had our passports stamped.

Our first Bulgarian city was Russe, the delights of which were not immediately evident. It did, however, have an interesting pedestrianised centre with a large plaza surrounded by historic buildings. We bought some brezels and hot bread rolls before riding out of town.

The main challenges of Bulgaria so far are the Cyrillic script, the language of which we learnt 3 words on the train, and the currency. An unfamiliar script adds another layer of alienation for the traveller too gormless to have learned the local language before arriving. But we are managing so far.

As we climbed out of the valley of the Danube (for the last time) we passed a young English cyclist who is also headed for Istanbul. We had a good tail wind and soon left him behind. Because we had little knowledge of road conditions and accommodation options we took the main road to Razgrad, about 65km. This was not too bad, with road surface quite good, road space ok and traffic volume tolerable and not life threatening. The only thing is that we are not really considered to be legitimate on-coming traffic so we have to watch out for vehicles overtaking towards us.

We have seen several mosques today, in Russe and Razgrad – the first for a couple of weeks. They appear abandoned.

Apparently abandoned mosque in Razgrad

An entertaining and potentially embarrassing feature of Bulgaria is that they nod their head for no and shake for yes!

Cycle route:
Giurgiu (Romania) – Razgrad (Bulgaria)

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