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