Saturday, July 12, 2008

Hello Bulgaria

Day 40 Bucharest to Ruse

I had run around and organized a tip for Sebastian our Romanian guide. There are approximately 45 riders and I collected 116 lei ($29.00 CDN) of which Jim and I contributed ($9.00). A real big tipping group we have here. I guess in fairness I may have missed asking a couple of riders however I did stand up at breakfast the day before and announce that I was collecting a tip. I hope that Tour d'Afrique paid him well, because Sebastian was fabulous.

After breakfast in the hotel, we enjoyed a police escort by the same officer out of Bucharest. He was terrific. Traffic was stopped at all the intersections and we just sailed out of town. I have really enjoyed the guided group rides into and out of towns. The tour guides get top marks in my book for this.

With the group ride over we only had 30 kms to lunch, down a very good but very busy road. Lunch was beside this field of sunflowers and we had fun taking pictures in the sunflowers which were putting on a beautiful show. They were about 4.5 feet high so you could see over them as you walked down the rows. Theresa, one of the tour guides, organized all the riders and we stood in the sunflowers and she climbed a step ladder and took a group photo. I can hardly wait to see it. We were being held at lunch as Randy one of the tour guides was out organizing a new campground. Last years campsite was very bad and was a long way out of the way as this year we are on a different route. Word came the new campsite had been selected and we had the directions and off we went.
The Danube is the boarder between Romania and Bulgaria so just before we got to the boarder check point, we crossed this huge old iron bridge. This bridge was probably close to 2 kms long and was easily 100 m above the water. The bridge was constructed in 1952. Or at least so proclaimed these two gigantic pedestals on either side of the bridge. The pedestals had been erected to glorify the workers revolution. However the communist symbols which had once topped the pedestals had been removed. The bridge deck was in terrible condition with huge ruts and big chunks of deck surface had been spalled off. The bridge itself must of had a dozen coats of paint which had been applied one right over the next, with no surface preparation as it was in terrible condition as well. As we rolled off the bridge we went to the boarder crossing where you handed your passport into the Romanian side and it came out on the Bulgarian side. Both sides stamped my passport but neither side looked at me to see if it was my picture in the passport.

The city of Ruse is just inside the Bulgarian boarder so Jim and I headed downtown to hit a bank machine to get some Bulgarian money ( 1 lev = $0.81 cdn). The downtown square was very pretty but the majority of the town is old soviet apartment slums. I heard some riders saying we should have had our rest day in Ruse rather than Bucharest. I think the 4 square blocks would not have been as interesting as the day in Bucharest. That business taken care of Jim and I headed off to the new campground. Just before we got to the campground we met a bunch of riders coming back from the campground. As it turns out the new campground was brothel! So we are going to ride up to this lake which is 15 kms up the road.

The campsite is on a very pretty little lake. There were rolling hills surrounding it and the north shore had a small village on it. There were no showers, however there was a spring where you could wash. To say that it was cold is the understatement of the year. I rode into town and got two, 2.5 liter bottles of beer for 4.6 lev which I shared around to the other riders. After supper was the second talent show. Berenice and Mike made popcorn on the camp stove for the talent show. It was a wonderful treat! There were several great acts however Curt really stole the show. He got up and sang this song which he had written as a tribute to all the wonderful people that he meet in Romania. It was very touching.

And so ends a 105 kms day. Off to bed to listen to the sound of a few hundred dogs barking all night long.

Thanks for visiting my blog and thanks for your comments.


PS. Julian that wasn't some passed out Romanian, that was my roommate.

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