DAY TWELVE… 35.5 miles (56.5 km)

We cycled on down the Danube away from our little house, after a night of violent storms. Our movement sensitive light outside kept switching itself on, which was a bit disturbing.   

The morning was cool with no hint of rain, thank goodness. Just warm and a bit muggy. We had a lovely ride along the Danube gorge, especially beautiful were two narrow stretches.

Dawn light on the Danube
Dubova “lagoon” in the Danube Gorge, with narrow walls in the distance
Rock Sculpture of Decebalus

Quite a lot of climbing though (750m) and two, really bad dog attacks. The first one went for Tim as he was behind me, so I escaped. Basically he just cycled very fast and got away. The second one came towards us at great speed. I thought it was trying to rush past us out of fear, but no, it was rushing straight at us. When it got to us it began gnashing round our legs as we cycled, and running round and round our bikes, jumping up and barking. It was really scary. We cycled very fast again (gradient in our favour) and got away. But I began to shake uncontrollably. I really can’t manage too many attacks like that.

We reached Orșova and tried to cycle on the road to Drobeta-Turnu Severin. The road turned out to consist of a virtually continuous run of heavy lorries travelling at great speed past us, with an increasingly small hard shoulder. After a particularly long convoy had passed, I lost my nerve and didn’t think we should go on. It felt like madness and certain death.

Cycle unfriendly route, in fact quite lethal. Better to take the train.

So we returned the way we had come and tried to hitch a lift…. no luck there. We then tried a taxi which was ridiculously expensive, so despite the advice of the guide book i.e. there is no other way to get to Drobeta-Turnu Severin, even though the road is treacherous, we decided to try and get a train. The train was due at 4pm which meant a 3 hr wait. But better than being killed by transcontinental lorries, I rang my Dad and had a lovely chat with him.

4.40pm… the train has come and we are on it, but it has not moved at all. The only action has been the conductor coming round, asking for 10 Leu and then pocketing it without giving us a ticket. Tim has a theory that we are waiting for another train to come, or that the driver needs more baksheesh before setting off.

The whole place feels rather shady. Romany young man and older man on the bench near us, waiting for the train earlier, became very interested in Tim’s electronic equipment and when Tim went off, they began making conversation with me in a rather pestering way, slightly menacing.

Waiting for the train

4.45pm… train is finally on its way.

We arrived in Drobeta-Turnu Severin and found our “three star” accommodation. It was functional and modern with hot water, a bit like a travel lodge. We were allowed to cook on the balcony, but it is a bit narrow so we bought some food in Lidl. Got a call from Amos (my son) to hear that my Dad had had a massive stroke and had been taken to hospital. He was pronounced brain dead. It was such a terrible shock I couldn’t believe it. Lots of phone calls later.

The situation at 10pm was that Dad was not going to recover and had not responded at all, and would die soon. Went to bed and dreamt of broken wells. A parent is a source of life, and sustenance and now that has gone. At 1am a very loud buzzing in my ear woke me up. That is the time that Dad passed away. I can’t really believe he has gone.