Cycling the lower Danube. Euro Velo 6. Day 5.

After the pedal change from a friendly local bicycle mechanic and racing cyclist we set off, still on a busy road but wider and better surfaced than on the upstream side of Severin.  We also had an hour of moderate to heavy rain – the only rain while we were cycling on the whole trip.  After a climb there was a magnificent descent into a plain where there were wildflowers in abundance and flocks of goats and sheep.

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Despite all this delightful scenery, and charming villages where the old people sat outside their houses chatting and knitting and waving to passing cyclists, we did have trouble identifying shops and bars. Sometimes the only clue was a chiller cabinet outside with a Coca Cola sign across the top.  Often the staff weren’t very interested in serving. Warning – in very small rural cafes don’t go for coffee unless you can see a proper coffee machine.  We had two lots which were absolutely disgusting.  I don’t mind the Turkish type, which has an inch of sludge in the bottom of the cup, and that sometimes turned up.  What was difficult to find was the choice you get in most coffee shops in Western Europe – americano, latte, cappuccino etc.

 

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We ended the day at Calafat, which had until a year ago had been an important ferry terminal for traffic from Bulgaria.  Now, however, thanks to an EU funded magnificent new bridge (see day 6 coming soon) it had hit hard times.  The Panoramic Hotel was almost deserted, though had obviously once had a flourishing life as a conference centre and overnight stop.  We didn’t worry too much about finding a pension, since hotels were mostly cheap in the small towns along the river.

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We walked around the town a bit, noting a fine example of the ubiquitous concrete fencing.  These 3 countries (Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria) seemed to have accounted for vast quantities of the world’s concrete production – or perhaps other countries just concealed the underlying concrete with better facing materials.  The place itself had obviously once been a fine example of  a middle European town – still hanging on.

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To make up for the economic decline caused by the bridge, the EU seemed to be funding the development of a fine new promenade by the river, from where we watched the sun set over the Danube, here briefly flowing south-west.

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