Cycling the Lower Danube. Eurovelo 6. Day 11.

By the time we got to Giurgiu, we knew we didn’t have time to get to the Black Sea as we had to get back to our respective homes. So, having worked out the train times back across Europe we decided we could do a little city hopping. First up, the small city of Russe, formerly Rustchuk, in Bulgaria, just across the river from Giurgiu.   The bridge here dates from the 50s and is showing its age – but at least the customs inspections spaced out the vast numbers of lorries so we didn’t experience the sheer terror of the Belgrade bridge or the road into Severin.

Russe was a delight.  Some people have called it Little Vienna, and it does have that middle European feel, much aided on this particular day by the hot sunshine and the fact that no fewer than 3 Danube cruise ships were tied up at the quay and many of their passengers were enjoying the cafés and restaurants.  We also found a tiny museum at a Roman fort near the centre of the town.  A very knowledgeable custodian, who also showed us the WWII air raid shelter cut into the same site.

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Patrick Leigh Fermor visited and liked this place.  He too found it a welcome change from rather less westernised parts of these countries, though his rural experiences involved more roughing it than ours ever did.  Also, he had to deal with the theft, and eventual return, of his rucsac in the town, which rather diverted his attention for a time.

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Here we met a young couple cycling to New Zealand via the “Stans” and China.  Put our little jaunt in perspective, rather.  Other cyclists were merely going to Istanbul, or the Black Sea.

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