Saturday, 30 August 2014

Boats of the Danube

Tandoids

Total Distance Cycled on Tandem: 19,020 km
Total Distance this Trip: 2,839 km
Route: Munich, Germany, via Isar River, via Danube through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia (side trip to Sarajevo, Bosnia) to Constanta, Romania. South to Varna, Bulgaria, via Black Sea Coast.
Duration: Three months
Return to New Zealand: 23 August 2014

Passing under a bridge in Belgrade, Serbia.

Quiet backwater, upstream.

This gentleman regretted that young men were showing less interest these days in rowing. They were, he said, distracted by other things. Budapest, Hungary.

Passenger/bike ferry

Cruise ship Stadt Wien heads up river at Melk, Austria.

Pretty lines

As we approached Belgrade, we spotted this trio way out in the middle of the river using what might have been a bed sheet for a wind assisted passage.

The Danube is still used to barge materials, although tourism and cruise ships dominate the river.

Holiday adventure - these kayakers were part of a bigger group making their way along a 700 km stretch of the Danube from Passau in Germany to Budapest in Hungary.

Danube Delta cruise. Boats leave from Tulcea, Romania, on day long excursions into the wetlands of the delta looking for pelicans and other bird life.


Monday, 18 August 2014

Buggered in Bulgaria

The ambulance took forever to arrive and when it did I was disappointed that I rated flashing lights but no siren, nor a police escort.

The doctor was the reassuring sort and the driver was a human gorilla. While the doctor took my blood pressure the gorilla apehandled the heavily loaded tandem into the back of the ambulance and we were off.

Asleep while on a drip at the hospital in Balchik, Bulgaria.

The road was bumpy and as I lay there I tried to figure out where we might be going. It didn't feel like a main road. After a while I gave up caring until we went over several particularly nasty bumps and stopped. Either we were in some remote spot where the doctor and his gorilla were about to slit our throats and drink our blood, or we were in a Bulgarian hospital car park.

Trouble had started as soon as we woke. I felt stuffed, but it was going to be a short ride to the Black Sea city of Varna where we planned to cross by ferry to Georgia. We set out on the ride but I had no energy and began feeling headachy, nauseous, and so thirsty my tongue stuck to my mouth.

On a fantastic downhill it became too much. We screeched to a halt, I shoved the bike at Judy and launched myself into the shrubbery to get rid of breakfast. Over the next little while, matters worsened with more stops and me stupidly trying to push on.

Shortly after Mike's first dash into the shrubbery, an old Volvo pulled up and out climbed three New Zealanders we had met the previous day. Carmen, Yves and Mike (in driver's seat) were on a car rally of Eastern Europe, and one of the few rules was that contestants were not allowed to spend more than €500 on their car. They were having a great time, and after they had been assured Mike was alright they resumed their day's 450 km drive to Sofia.

Judy the Stoker: "At one point I was pushing the bike uphill towards some shade and I looked back to see that Mike was following. There was this pathetic little creature clutching his water bottle and following very slowly. It's an image that will stay with me."

We resumed riding until my legs finally gave out and Judy ordered me into the shade of a small tree, where I watched the ants crawling over my shoes and wondered how I would ever move again. The tank was utterly, completely drained.

Judy was having her own drama. What the hell was she going to do with me? Neither of us could ride the tandem alone - I was too ill, and she couldn't ride at the front to go and fetch help. She did the logical thing and managed to stop a car with a young couple. The woman spoke good English, she phoned an ambulance and eventually there I was wondering if we were going to have our throats cut.

The hospital staff were every bit as professional as you would hope, although it was obvious that facilities were lacking - they couldn't even provide clean drinking water. 

"38 degrees is too hot to be cycling," one of the doctors warned us as he stressed the dangers of heat exhaustion. 

A few hours later, after a saline drip, a jab in the backside and lots of photos by the medical staff intrigued by a couple of tandemists, I was given permission to leave. The next stop was the nearest hotel and an air conditioned room. Bliss. 

The day after. Still feeling tired and in no mood for cycling but on the road to recovery.

Footnote from Judy: "Looking back on it, there were some things that should have alerted us earlier to what was going on. The night before Mike was complaining of feeling very tired, more than usual. In the morning, we suspected he might have eaten something which had upset him, but we had both had the same food. It was unlikely only one of us would have been affected. And on top of that, Mike can be stoical, and likely to keep going when he shouldn't. And sometimes, a person suffering from heat exhaustion doesn't always realise it or may blame something else. If there's a lesson from this, it's maybe cyclists need to be vigilant about themselves and about their companions.

We know of three other cycling couples where heat exhaustion has been a problem. In each case it was the man. I don't know if men are more susceptible for some reason."

Heat Exhaustion - The Warning Signs

Symptoms: Can include some or all of the following: headache, tiredness, thirstiness, confusion, irritability, dizziness, nausea/vomiting and lots of sweating. 
Treatment: Cooling the patient is the most important. Also, drinking lots of cool but not cold fluids, get shade or air conditioning, lie down and rest, do not continue with exercise, cool but not cold shower or bath. Get medical help if symptoms are severe.

Relaxing on the waterfront at Balchik. After a day's rest, we resumed the ride to Varna but the experience was a turning point in the trip. We decided it was too hot to ferry across the Black Sea and resume cycling in Georgia and Azerbaijan. Next time?




Saturday, 9 August 2014

The End of the EuroVelo 6

We rode up a slight incline and suddenly between the buildings there was a glimpse of water. "The Black Sea", we both yelled as we wobbled with delight into the next corner.

"It's not even black", called Judy. And it wasn't. It was a sparkling, delicious blue that couldn't help but make us think of sand between toes, sunburned necks and dripping ice creams.

The blue Black Sea on a sunny afternoon.

After 2,641 kms of riding along the Danube River from Germany to Constanta, Romania, it was a wonderful moment - some real water. It wasn't New Zealand with the Pacific on our doorstep, but not bad. The moment lasted only a second as we swept round the corner and the view was lost behind a crumbling high rise block - the sort of post communist sight we have come to expect in this country.

These buildings are on Constanta's restaurant row. Others are being bowled or renovated, still others have been given new life as caf├ęs and occasional boutique shops. The overall impression is of dust and grime as pedestrians tread warily so as not to twist an ankle. Pic: J Yeoman

Selfie in front of Constanta's most spectacular building. A casino built in 1910, it was a gamble that in the end did not pay off. It has fallen into disrepair and has been closed for some years. It is badly overdue for an investment by an oil rich sheikh.

Romania via the Danube has been a fascinating ride, if not a fair representation of the country as a whole. The economic gains made since 2000 are not obvious in most of the places we visited, and the tourism infrastructure is laughable. While the six other countries we visited on this trip have EuroVelo 6 signs on every corner - Romania has none. Not one. While in other countries, large parts of the EV6 are on dedicated bike/pedestrian paths, here in Romania it is entirely on roads. Fortunately, that's not a problem. Traffic is light most of the time and a good cycle map makes it easy to find the way.

A last glimpse of the Danube as we turn away from it and head directly to Constanta on the Black Sea coast.

Finding accommodation can be harder. It requires careful planning to hit a town at the end of each day where a hotel or guesthouse is guaranteed. For budget conscious cyclists, costs go up because there are no campgrounds. Those rooms that are available often seem expensive for what they offer - dodgy electrical wiring and plumbing, half hearted air con and views, if they exist at all, of dusty concrete edifices crumbling under years of poor maintenance and neglect.

Constanta street scene. Pic: J Yeoman

That's the down side. The upside is the cycling. 

Over the past few days the terrain has become more varied. There have been some hills - ok, not big ones, but hills all the same. And we have ridden up onto the occasional plateau, where the surrounding countryside has fallen away until the sky seemed huge. Away to the South lay the mountains of Bulgaria and to the north the horizon disappeared in a pale blue haze. 

Light traffic most of the way has meant pleasant cycling.

We cycled between vineyards, and fields of corn, sunflowers, watermelons and bales of hay. Occasionally we overtook a horse and cart - a picturesque moment but a reminder too that not everyone can afford modern machinery.

Mostly we do the overtaking - until the farmer urges his horse into a canter.

The days have remained hot - well into the 30s, but an easterly headwind has helped cool us even if it made the cycling harder.

When we asked permission to use a seat, this man in the village of Greaca invited us into his garden, set up a table and chairs and put out a plastic tablecloth. He came back with plums from his own garden and water from his well. All we could offer was a sweet biscuit which he devoured with such enthusiasm he left a ring of crumbs around his mouth. We had no common language and never learned his name.

Finding shade for our lunch stops each day has not been easy. We love a park bench but the smaller towns don't have them. Instead, most homes have a bench by the front gate - clearly on private property. In desperation, we have asked permission to use them and have ended up making new best friends. Out has come watermelon and plums and tablecloths.
The people have been the best thing about Romania.

Another lunch stop, and we were treated to a paper table cloth and napkins before the man of the house retired to leave us in peace.

We are taking a few days off to rest and plan the route ahead. That will involve cycling South down the coast from Constanta. Let's hope it's not as frenetic as the ride in - 20 kilometres on a narrow four lane highway with no shoulder and an abrupt drop where the seal ended on the side of the road. Drivers brushed past us too fast for comfort and some tooted threateningly. And there was not even one EV6 sign to say,"Congratulations - you've done it."

At least as we leave town we will have the blue Black Sea for company.

This is "Titi" real name Nitu Dumitru, who was another wonderful person we met along the way. He answered the door at Barlogul Sacalului Mincinos Pensiunea at Ostrov, and gave us chilled water, beer and later stewed grapes for our breakfast. He described himself as a plumber and would have been about 25 when communist rule ended. "Under communism", he said,"I had lots of money but there was nothing to buy. Now I have no money and everything to buy." 
Some people still looked back fondly on the good old days of communist rule. "When I ask them what was good about them, they can't answer." Pic: J Yeoman

Judy on Goose Patrol. Somewhere in southern Romania.

Tandoids
Total Distance on Tandem: 18,822 kms
Distance this Trip: 2,641 Kms
Punctures this Trip: 1
Maintenance: New chains required
Bum Status: Mike the Captain: "Bloody sore, Miss Brooks is never coming on another long trip."
Judy the Stoker: "It's a 7 out of 10 with the gel cover but a new seat is required for the next trip."
Best Coffee East of Budapest: Still looking.

Hot contender for Best Coffee. At a cake shop in Constanta. Hot and strong and cakes with enough calories to suit a pair of cyclists.

Keen gardeners have been at work in many of the villages we passed through. Pic: J Yeoman

The Danube - Black Sea Canal, which was partly excavated by political prisoners during the years of communist rule.

Constanta skyline

Judy dips her toes in the Black Sea, more than two years after we rode the first half of the EV6 from the Atlantic in France to Vienna.






Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Roaming Across Romania


Rural Romania can make you feel disconcerted, even upset. It's a combination of all the poverty, the poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water, and the sight of the elderly sometimes engaged in heartbreakingly difficult physical work.

An elderly woman struggles home with water collected from a well.

Take the latter first. As we rode through southern Romania today we passed two handcarts laden with odds and sods. One was being pushed by an elderly woman. She had manoeuvred the cart so that the right hand wheel had become bogged down in the mud on the side of the road.

I wanted to get off the bike and help her, but no sooner had the thought come to mind than she heaved the cart in the opposite direction and freed it. 

We swept by feeling guilty. What on earth was a woman of her age doing pushing a cart like that on her own? What kind of world lets this happen?

And isn't membership of the EU meant to bring benefits to the citizens of the member nations?

A shepherd looks after his goats. It's a simple life and may seem idyllic. But EU membership has made it easier for outsiders to buy up farmland and prices have skyrocketed. 

Then there are the toilets, which we rate as worse than the worst we encountered in rural SE Asia. Judy encountered one today that was so bad she wouldn't use it and ducked outside. As she was braving the loo, I was drinking coffee and deciphering a Romanian newspaper which carried a story about the country's high rates of hepatitis - caused by unsanitary conditions. Judy returned to the table grim faced - "no running water", she announced and went off to the bike to get our water to wash her hands.

A woman draws water from a well in a region where the water table is known to be contaminated. Efforts are said to be underway to try to improve living conditions, but the results are not obvious.

This evening she's been hunting around on the internet and has discovered that the area we have been riding through has some of the highest hep rates in the country. Part of the reason is that many toilets are simply a shallow hole in the ground and the water table becomes contaminated. People still draw their drinking water from the many wells that dot the roadside.

Decay on the outskirts of Corabia, southern Romania. Under communist rule, efforts were made to develop the town as an industrial centre but now many of the factories have closed and people have moved away to look for work.

As for poverty - the signs are everywhere. Houses are falling down and whole factories abandoned. Yesterday we cycled into a village that was like something out of the Middle Ages. A group of mostly women were sitting and standing in front of a dilapidated building. They barely moved, as if frozen in time. A horse and cart were stopped on a dirt side road. The tones were monochrome - a combination of peeling paint, dirt, dust and a grey sky. We didn't stop.

But for all this grimness there is an upside. Riding the tandem here is fantastic. Many of the roads are quiet, if bumpy, and the people are wonderfully friendly. It's taken us a couple of days to figure that out, but we have come to the conclusion the locals are often shy. They will ignore us until Judy initiates a wave or a cheery "salut" or "ciao". The response is immediate. Weathered faces crinkle into beaming smiles and their greetings and best wishes follow us down the road long after we have passed them.


We cycled into a truck stop and asked if they sold coffee. The man in the centre soon produced some and we settled down for a lengthy discussion that took in the merits of EU membership, corruption in Government, a comparison of average earnings in Romania and New Zealand and the statement that "Romanians, we love our country". We never learned his name or that of his friend. They wouldn't let us pay for the coffee.

Last night we stayed at a campground in a cabin - yes, the only toilet and shower were terrible and we had to ask that the water be turned on. It was a party night - in a thunderstorm, a teenager was having his 18th birthday celebration in the campground "restaurant" - a huge, garage like space with beer and wine fridges and room for table tennis. We went to sleep to the sounds of traditional Romani music - lilting with an upbeat tempo that made us smile at the sheer joy it evoked.

Notes from the Road

Despite all we had heard, Romania's dogs are not causing us any problems. There are certainly lots of them roaming around but the vast majority have shown no interest in our limbs. We now carry a dog "Dazer" which emits a high pitched tone. We've tried it a couple of times on dogs that looked a bit threatening and it does seem to work - good insurance for the nervous but given our experience so far, it's probably not necessary.

Horse and cart - a common sight in southern Romania.

Finding accommodation in southern Romania can be tricky. We have followed the main EV6 route since crossing the Iron Gate at Sip and have passed through Calafat and now Corabia. It's required a little planning to ensure we end each day with somewhere to stay (click on EV6 - Places to Stay at top of this page). Our best source of information has been the 1: 100000 maps of the Donau Radweg published by Huber. Campgrounds are practically non existent, but accommodation is considerably cheaper than in western Europe. Free camping is another alternative for those prepared to forego a shower.

We stayed at a campground with cabins at Zaval, Romania. This is the morning after a night of violent thunderstorms and traditional Romani music.

Be careful about drinking water. Either buy bottled or filter/sterilise it - just because a local says it's safe to drink doesn't mean you will escape a stomach upset.


There is a risk of waterborne diseases in the Danube River area, Romania.

Buying food is easy. Lots of coffee shops/bars and bakeries. Some small supermarkets.

The main EV6 route has been sealed all the way so far. Most of it has little traffic, but at times the road is narrow and bumpy or potholed. Delightful cycling.

Tandoids

Current Location: Corabia, Romania
Distance this trip (from Munich, Germany): 2,175 km
Longest day this trip: 104 km
Worst loo: Bar at Ostroveni, Romania
Road kill count: lost track of the dogs bowled in Romania
Come on Romania: It's time to switch from wine corks to screw caps. Not everyone carries a corkscrew.

Where's the fire? Cigarette in mouth, this man had his horse clip clopping at a fine pace.





















Friday, 25 July 2014

Senses Assailed

We feel on the verge of sensory overload. The past few days as we have ridden the tandem from Belgrade, Serbia, along the Danube and into Romania have been the most rewarding of the trip.

The cycling, sights, people, stories we have heard, friendly waves - they've all added up to something special.

Judy the Stoker tucks into a local speciality in Serbia - kacamak, which is a doughy goo a bit like polenta, accompanied by grilled cheese. Hmmmmm...

In no particular order, here's a random rundown of a few of them.

Two German cyclists met on the top of a Serbian hill. "What were the dogs like in Romania," asked Judy the Stoker.

"No problem," one of them answered. "We heard all the stories about being attacked, but just whack your panniers loudly and they stop chasing"

Next day we meet a Belgian couple on a 1,300 cc motorcycle.  "What were the dogs like in Romania," asked Judy the Stoker.

"Terrible," he said and goes on to explain how they rode through a tunnel where a pack of wild dogs lived. "Twenty chasing from behind, five in front. One got my leg, we wobbled but I was wearing my leather trousers so wasn't injured. But terrifying."

As a precaution we bought a version of a dog Dazer (see photo for details) before we left Belgrade. Haven't had a chance to test it in anger.

In need of a dog Dazer? After so many stories from fellow travellers about dangerous dogs in Romania, we went in search of a Dazer in Belgrade, Serbia. We found a similar device which emits a high pitched tone, unpleasant to dogs but inaudible to humans. The shop is known as Snijpar, at Prizrenska 13, near Hotel Moskva.

Scenery through the Iron Gates must be among the best on the entire EV6 from Nantes, in France.  The river narrows to 150 metres at one point and for a couple of days we have rejoiced in blue sparkling water. Hills remind us this is a bike ride, though nothing over 10 per cent gradient and all rideable. Had to stop once on a downhill to allow the tandem's brakes to cool down.

The ruins of Cetatii Tricole, a former Habsburg castle, which was partially submerged  when the Djerdap 1 dam was built on the Danube to generate hydro electric power.

Weather hot - mid 30s with sudden thunderstorms, particularly in the late afternoons.

Memorable moments include riding into a sleepy village and having a large dog bark rather too enthusiastically at us. We asked its owner - an elderly man - if there was a cafe where we might buy coffee. He indicated no, paused for a moment then waved us into the shade of a verandah. A woman we later discovered was his daughter-in-law emerged from the house and there was a brief discussion. Before we knew it we were drinking lemon juice and coffee and eating chocolate cake and learning that the man's sister had migrated to New Zealand and lived in Wellington.

Judy used a stick to nudge this turtle away from the road and out of harm's way.

Another memorable moment - man proudly shows us a campground cabin which we are considering renting for the night. He yanks the window open so enthusiastically it comes away from the wall and he almost drops it on his foot. We took the room. There was netting over the window so no mozzies, which was all we cared about.

This monument to the Dacian king Decebalus (reign from 87 AD to 106 AD) is on the Romanian side of the Danube. It was made in the early years of this century and paid for by a Romanian industrialist.

We rode into Romania at Sip yesterday, across the Danube which creates a natural border.

On the final stretch of the Serbian side we could see what looked like a brand new freeway across the Danube and were grateful we were missing all the heavy traffic.

Romania is one of the newer members of the EU (2007) and while it is making economic gains the gulf between west and east Europe becomes a chasm here. Although we were prepared for it, we were still surprised by the empty, falling down industrial buildings on the outskirts of Drobeta - Turnu Severin.

Two prostitutes were looking for business among the long haul truckies, one of the women stood so far out into the road we came close to hitting her as we barrelled past.

Mangy dogs rambled about but we didn't discern a marked personality change between them and their cuzzie bros a kilometre away across the river.

The Danube at its narrowest point in the Iron Gates - 150 metres.

Once in the town, things looked better but it took time late in the day to find somewhere to stay. Have ended up in a small 3 star hotel which we have taken for two nights. Celebrated the border crossing with a meal in the hotel's outdoor restaurant with beer and wine and collapsed into bed. Judy managed to find the Tour de France on the TV and watched stage 18.

TANDOIDS

Distance: about 2/3 of the way from Munich, Germany to Constanta (on the Black Sea), Romania.
Punctures this trip: 1
Distance Cycled This Trip: 1,923 km
Distance to Constanta: approx 875 km
Current Location: Drobeta - Turnu Severin, Romania

A stop to snack on roadside blackberries. The tunnel behind is 371 metres long and unlit. However, it does have a footpath (cyclists' escape route).

Quotable Quotes
We have spent more than a week with kiwi friends in Belgrade and Sarajevo, and they came up with some quotes worth sharing. 
S talking about the number of unnatural blondes in Belgrade. "They must sell hydrogen peroxide in industrial quantities here."

S poses a question: "What is the difference between erotic and exotic?"
Answer: "Erotic is with a feather, exotic is with the whole chook."


Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Iron Gates


Fear can strike us cyclists out of the blue. One moment the tandem is moving steadily forward, there is a cool rush of air, the scenery is enchanting and all is well with the world.

 The next, blind panic strikes.

Today the latter happened. We were riding along the Danube in Serbia, in an area known as the Iron Gates.

Emerging from one of the shorter tunnels. Most of them have a narrow footpath which can be walked or even cycled.

It's where the river - Europe's second longest - gets squeezed as it cuts its way through the Carpathian Mountains. Instead of flat land, dykes and swamps, the river speeds up as mountains close in on either side. The road, instead of the flat and sometimes featureless route we have become used to, begins to twist and climb and drop, and there are tunnels - we passed through 15 (we think) today. 

One of them was 256 metres long and there was a bend in the middle. We entered wearing our hi-viz. tops and with our red rear light blinking enthusiastically. Up front, I wore a feeble head lamp attached to my helmet. 

Serbian EV6 sign with a message: the white on red reads,"We should never be afraid to try something new. Amateurs built the Ark. Professionals built the Titanic."

Long before we could see the light at the end of the unlit tunnel we had lost the light from behind. It was pitch dark, and the beam from the headlamp was soaked up by the black tarmac and the rock of the tunnel walls. It was impossible to see.

The further we went, the more we wobbled. We wobbled because we couldn't tell which way was up, nor where the road went. If you can imagine falling through a black void, you get the picture.

This little owl was on the edge of the road, perhaps having been hit by a car. It refused to budge so in the end we left it where it was and hoped it would be ok.

Our only hope lay in the white centre line. As we wobbled, we saw brief flashes of it lit up by the glow of the headlamp. I swung the bike out to the centreline, aware that riding the white line on a bicycle in the middle of a pitch black tunnel was not particularly smart. But that white line gave us a sense of orientation - suddenly we knew which way was up.

It wasn't the time to relax. A gradual roar - the rush of air - could be heard from an approaching vehicle, but the bend in tunnel prevented us from knowing whether it was behind us or in front. 

Golubac Castle comes into view. Built in the 13th century by the Hungarians, it is regarded as the best preserved castle in Serbia.

We waited with the panic rising as the noise grew louder, and we moved right hoping like hell we wouldn't crash into the kerb, or even the tunnel wall. The vehicle was behind, so we squeezed further. At the same time we sensed there was a kerb somewhere in the darkness and we both reached out with our right legs, bouncing along it with a pannier absorbing some of the shock. Without a word, we leapt from the bike and threw ourselves against the tunnel wall. 

One moment we were finding our way out of Belgrade, a few hours later we were riding along a dyke with a path all to ourselves.

The car whistled past - unaware of the sense of terror it induced - and we walked the rest of the way until the light of day gradually crept into the tunnel.

The moral of the story - for this section of the EuroVelo 6, bring a powerful headlamp and nerves of steel.

Footnote: this was the only tunnel which had railings along a narrow footpath - so narrow we couldn't get the bike along it. Later tunnels had footpaths minus the railings and we were able to walk the bike through in complete safety.

Golubac Castle: fought over many times down the centuries.

Tandoids

New Members of  the 18,000 km Tandem Club : Judy the Stoker, Mike the Captain.
Distance this Trip: 1,841 km
Current Location: Donji Milanovac, Serbia.
Best Coffee east of Budapest (so far): restaurant at Lepenski Vir Archaeological Site.

Coffee at Lepenski Vir has to be a contender for Best since Budapest. Typically Serbian, it was strong but also hot and big enough to satisfy cyclists on a rainy morning.

Notes from the Road

It's been seriously hot since arriving back in Belgrade on Saturday the 19th. Two days of 35 degrees and we cycled but melted. On Sunday the 20th we found an easy way out and North of Belgrade, near Pancevo, where we got our first puncture of the trip. 65 kms to a cycling guest house right on the Danube. 

Then on and over the ferry to Ram to a "doggy" campground at a Serbian Danube sort-of resort area. Just got our tent up and listened to a major thunderstorm all night with rain on and off. It cleared, so off we went and oh, so stunning!

Lepenski Vir Archaeological Site. The remains of this Stone Age site were discovered during preliminary work on a Danube dam construction project in the 1960s. Rather than drown the site when the river level rose, it was shifted up the hillside and reassembled under the protection of a glass and steel shelter.

Finally in the Danube Gorge from Golubac East. Found the prettiest camp just West of Dobra on the water (only 2 couples there until later on) and took a wee cabin.  Looking over to the hills of Romania and so close. Today, very dramatic. Gorge narrowed, 15 tunnels, an amazing archaeological site, Lepenski Vir (inside a massive glass building just as a huge torrential downpour happened;  it looked like Milford Sound!) then on in sun to the prettiest village and to a devine room, 5 days old, 3rd story up, with windows overlooking the Danube and Romania. At Donji Milanovac.



This sandstone sculpture known as Danubius was just one of the finds at Lepenski Vir. It dates back to 6,300-5,900 BCE.

Tomorrow we pass the narrowest point of the Danube and may cross to Romania at the Iron Gates of Sip. We are loving this trip. People tough, friendly, big hearted but don't cross them and the learning is unbelievably interesting. Cycling is good. SE Asia was a great teacher for hot, humid and hills. The tandem2 mood is fantastic.