We had arranged the taxi for 09:00 but we’re ready at quarter to. The same receptionist as the night before called the driver and 2 minutes later he was there. In a ageing Citroen Berlingo. The good news was that we were able to fit the bikes, our luggage both of us and the driver in there.
The bad news was that we could not find a common language for any kind of conversation and that his diet must have consisted of nothing but garlic.
Before we left we checked again with the reception guy and learned that we needed to pay in Bulgarian levs. We had none but the driver took us past an ATM and that was soon sorted.
We drove north from Vidin on minor road and found out what 100 mph looks like from the inside. Nothing we saw on the route to the Serbian border made us think that Bulgaria had a booming economy..
Getting over the border to Serbia was an education. A full 15 minutes at the Bulgarian border then a further 15 to get into Serbia. This is called “Taking control of our borders”. We must be nuts.
The road surface in Bulgaria had been rotten, the surface on the road to the Iron Gates dam was even worse. But by 10:30 we were there. Another lengthy conversation with border guards and customs inspectors. The driver left, we loaded the panniers and a friendly guard informed us “we have a problem with the dam. You must not stop, walk or take photos” So off we went. The dams had been built in the 50s and it showed! As we approached the Romanian side we were ‘set off’ by a group of dogs. Elaine was tearing along with big dogs barking and running along side her. The workmen watching found this hilarious.
At the Romanian end, they were rebuilding the border post. Again it took 15 minutes and 8 friendly people for us to get through. In all this time on both sides we were the only customers.
Then for the first time we got to ride alongside the Danube
In fact the road dipped and for a while I think we were 10 feet below water level. This was a totally different world from our earlier experience. Before there were a constant stream of villages and every one with many small stores where we could get beer or coffee. Here there was nothing.
The villages were few and far between and were bypasses by the road. After a while our route cut across a end in the River. This meant that road climbed steadily for many miles. We eventually found a shop to sell us coffee, bread, cheese and tomatoes and ate lunch by the side of the road..
One thing I had heard of but never seen before were the bee vans. Parked in the fields and filled with dozens of bee hives
We enjoyed a steep drop back down to the river but then the rain clouds we had seen around all day moved over us and we and to put on our rain jackets. The last 10 km into Dobreta Turnuu Severing were a nightmare. We had joined a busy main road and the big trucks were thundering past
For once I had done something right and the hotel was wonderful. It was on the Main Street, but had been brilliantly modernised and everything was fresh and clean and everything worked.
The receptionist told us the Italian just across the street was good but there was such a thunderstorm for the next hour that we could not get across the road. So we ate a nice but uninspiring meal in the hotel.