Stage 1 complete!

In Bucharest we met up with Endi, the Spanish tourer we travelled with from Vienna to Bratislava. We arranged to travel to the Black Sea together.

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The first day we travelled quite quickly back down to and along the river. We covered 75 miles.
The villages were larger than before and finding a camping spot in the evening was proving difficult. We cycled up some dirt tracks and bumped into a farmer. I pulled out my translated paragraph…. Could we get lucky again!?

Of course!

He welcomed us with open arms into his house. We met his family, friends and they provided us with a feast of food and home made wine.
We all ate and drank till about 1.30am before collapsing into bed. We had a truely fantastic evening!

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Showing us a headless chicken. This was then plucket before us and cooked on a fire.

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Group photo.

The next morning I woke up horrifically hungover and the days riding was slow and hard.

There was one last river crossing.

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This turned out to be the final time we would see the Danube river.

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During the day we bumped into 2 French tourers who were going to the Black Sea, they had been travelling since the beginning of March and even had their dog with them in the trailer!

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We wild camped 50miles from Constanta, the stage 1 finishing line. However a herd of goats and a farmer did pass through which was nice. He didn’t seem bothered we were staying here.

The next morning we woke up with great anticipation. This was it! The final push.

The whole day we hit big rolling hills but it was great fun. My knee has healed and I’m feeling strong.

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We stopped along the way to buy some honey.

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Quick stop at the top of one climb.

As we entered Constanta the adrenaline really started kicking in and we progressively got faster. When the Black Sea became visible we raced like men possessed to the edge! This was a lot of fun.

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We made it!

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Team photo!!

Our journey as a trio now heads south along the coast to Bulgaria and finally into Turkey. We hope to have a rest day at the beach before our final push for Istanbul. We hope this will take about 1 week.

Hope you are all well Xx

Serbia, Bulgaria & Romania

Our official route out of Belgrade again was questionable but fun nonetheless.

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A wooden footbridge supporting hundreds of tourers each year.

Our route took us through tiny villages and endless straight passes.

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The end of this day we bumped into a local man riding his bike. After chatting for a while he led us to a campsite nearby.

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The campsite was empty at first. When the owner eventually arrived we ordered ourselves a fish and beer. Later that evening we swam in the river and got a great nights sleep.

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Serbia started serving us some great views and interesting places to ride through.

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This track through the cows led to a ferry crossing.

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Approaching the other side.

We then proceeded to cycle towards the Danube Gorge.

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Our first glimpse. Romania on the left, Serbia on the right.

We camped just as we entered the Gorge. Underneath a fishing hut.

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The following day was by far the most scenic of the entire trip so far! We would stop almost every 10minutes to take a photo and admire the view. Here are a selection of them..

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It actually took us 3 days to cycle out of Serbia. It has been a beautiful country to cycle through, we also felt very safe here. Everyone has be kind and friendly.

Our next stop was Bulgaria, for a mere 25 miles.

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Navigation to the Romanian border was easy, 1 road.
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Access to the bridge to cross by bicycle however was a nightmare. Our maps showed us to a ferry crossing initially, which is no longer running. A security guard told us to use the road. Which then turned into a motorway. So we used offline maps on our phones to navigate a series of run down villages and luckily find the footpath along the bridge.

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We found a bank in the first town we came to and took out the cash needed for the next week.

It was now 2pm.. We had cycled in 3 countries and passed into a new time zone (GMT +2).

The journey then continued another 20miles along the river. The villages were very small and there was very little cover for wild camping inbetween. So in the early evening I pulled out a translated paragraph I had printed explaining who I was, what I was doing and could I pitch my tent somewhere.

We asked a family on the outskirts of a little town and they said no, you can stay in our house! Fantastic!

They were very polite and friendly. They also provided us with milk, eggs (fried), bread, tomatoes and cheese all sourced and made from the confines of their small property. Delicious!

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Farewell photo.

The scenery has just been field after field. The local resisents cheering us on in every town has been great to experience, and tiring!! The road traffic is 50/50 cars and horse with carts.

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The scenery was all very similar and with the prospect of it not changing for another 4 days and having not stopped since Belgrade we decided to take the 100mile detour up to the Capital city Bucharest.
We spent 2 nights here in a hostel. During the rest day we cleaned and maintained our bikes, washed our sweaty clothes and walked around the city to see the sights.

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Parliament, 3rd largest building in the world.

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A collection of museums and galleries.

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The local parks dotted around the city.

My stage 1 finishing line is just around the corner. We hope to be at the Black Sea on Saturday evening!!

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I hope you are all well Xx

Hungary, Croatia & Belgrade

Our Budapest visit ended on a real high, when as we sat for a last beer in the centre of town a French couple we had met in Vienna, who are also cycling to the Black Sea, spotted us. We all sat together for a meal with live music. We sampled the Goulash, which I actually really enjoyed!
Walking back to the hotel we took a quick ride on a ferris wheel to see the sights lit up one more time.

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We started heading directly south out of Budapest the next morning. Fortunately the Eurovelo6 route immediately cuts through the countryside and so we encountered no problems navigating out of the area. However some of the tracks were a bit scarce to say the least, wondering if this really was the ‘official route?’

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Over the next couple of days we were led through farm pastures galore, flat as a pancake. The only real deviation being a ferry crossing.

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After this crossing we went to wild camp. A small dirt track off the cycle path led into the Forest. After a few hundred metres we stumbled across what looked like a scout camp. It was deserted… Perfect!

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The weather became hotter, we became super dirty and on this day after our lunch we had ourselves a shower from a hose in full view of the public driving past.

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(Ross washing his hair)

The border of Croatia came upon us faster than we anticipated, we actually had to show our passports for the first time since entering France.

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Our first night in Croatia was by a fishing lake, our cycle guides warned us to not wild camp due to landmines but after asking some locals this area felt safe. We got there just before a lightning storm struck. Once it had stopped we went for a swim, surprisingly it was actually warm!

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The next day we started heading South East as this stretch of the route out of Croatia and into Serbia was only 150km.
The weather was awful initially and our first proper downhill in what feels like forever was on slippery cobbles, nightmare!

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Motivation lacked that day and it became our shortest at 35miles cycled, before we ditched the riding for a cheap guesthouse.

Our last day in the country was bright and cheerful. Croatia gave us a few nice towns to pass through and a glimpse of the river.

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We crossed the Danube into Serbia at 6pm on saturday evening (16/05/15).

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The first town past the border we got a celebratory beer for a new country entered. We got out our maps and planned where we could wild camp that night. Just as we left a lady from the table next to us, who must have overheard our conversation, offered a cheap hostel type accommodation 200metres away. We took a chance and found out it was above a car wash. It was basic, but was clean, had a decent shower, WiFi and a place to secure our bikes. For the grand total of £3.60 each!

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Ross had contacted a warmshowers host in the the capital city, Belgrade, for the next day.

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Crossing the Danube river again on our way out of the city Novi Sad.

We left early for a 75mile ride and we encountered our first real hill climbs.

In the 28 degree heat we were sweating buckets, at the top of one we bought a kilo of strawberries from a roadside stall for the cost of £1.

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On our rest day we took a 3 hour walking tour around the city, had lunch in a restaurant and did a bit of shopping. A nice relaxing time.

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Showing us the areas where the best live music and bars were.
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Exploring the fortress and view points
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Where the river Sava joins the Danube

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A few local artists in the main pedestrian areas.

Our journey now heads directly east. We should be in Serbia another 2 days before crossing into Romania. The capital, Bucharest, is not on the Danube river, we are undecided if we will detour our journey just yet.

The approximate distance to the Black Sea via the cycle route is 600-700miles. We hope to achieve this within a fortnight.

Our river adventure ending is in the city of Constanta.
This feels like the homestraight of stage 1 :-)…… Exciting!

I hope you are all well Xx