DAY SEVENTEEN… 34.5 miles (55.5 km)

The wedding did indeed go on all night as promised, but although I woke frequently to hear roars of delight or singing, it didn’t bother me much.

Woke with the light and thought we could hear some sort of traffic in the field, but thought this must be a mistake. We were discussing the logistics of not having a loo and being in a public space, not ideal! When I unzipped the tent to look out,to our surprise a market was in full swing; horse and cart parked nearby.

We awoke to the Sunday morning market

We had secured our bikes just where the market was taking place, so Tim hurriedly got dressed and rushed over to rescue them. Because the market was happening the toilets had been unlocked, so all that side of things was taken care of. But the whole shock of waking up in the middle of a market made us get in a muddle. Everything was in the long grass, and insects everywhere.

We could not cook on the market tables as we had done last night and I had forgotten to buy oats for breakfast. An old lady was scavenging amongst the stalls for thrown away vegetables. I gave her some of the tomatoes that the market sellers had given to us. She asked for money too.  At first I thought ‘No’ but then I wondered why I was reacting that way, and gave her 4 Leu (only 80p). She seemed so grateful and kissed my hand.

7am Sunday breakfast for market goers

Progress was slow again. There was a headwind and it was 38°C. We only had about 35 miles to cycle, but the heat was so fierce that standing in the sun felt like being fried alive. Generally moving forwards was the best option, though, as the day wore on, this was very hard work.

We finally crossed the very narrow bridge from Giurgiu in Romania to Ruse in Bulgaria. Immediately we noticed that things were different. Drivers were maybe a little less careful. In Romania drivers were very fast and, often tanked up on the many liquid refreshment stops along the way (and even sometimes children were driving on their Dad’s laps.) But the cars did give us a wide berth and a friendly hoot of encouragement. Bulgarian drivers seemed less tolerant, and less willing to accommodate cyclists.

The good thing we noticed was the re-emergence of the Eurovelo 6 signs and a lot of good, rather than rusty bikes, and helmets. Dogs are on leads too.

Everywhere in Ruse looks pretty affluent. We are staying in an apartment with access to a kitchen, in a leafy quiet street. It’s a bit more than our budget, but our bikes are secure and we can cook. Also, the cycling was getting to me in such heat. I was soaked in sweat, felt very dirty and desperately wanted to wash my hair and body.