Archive for July, 2014

Cycling the Lower Danube. Euro Velo Route 6. Day 4 Part 1

July 7, 2014

We didn’t meet many other touring cyclists going our way, and only a very few in the opposite direction (which was into the prevailing wind, and therefore silly). But we started day 4 alongside 3 German men (of  a certain age) and this enthusiastic French couple who were cycle camping around Europe for 4 months.

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I don’t envy them that amount of luggage though !

The ride to Orsova was great – a small hilly loop inland, from where we had this wonderful view

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and met this chap – an egomaniac, without doubt.

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before a pleasant lunch in Orsova where we could admire the local hardware store, which reminded me of every hardware store I have ever seen.

The road from Orsova to Drobeta-Turnu Severin (hereafter, Severin) outdid the Belgrade bridge for sheer terror. Suddenly all the largest lorries of Europe were heading from Northern to Southern Europe, or vice-versa. The road was just wide enough for two lorries to pass, but not two lorries and a bike.  There was a near death experience every 30 seconds, plus all the drain covers on the numerous bridges being put in with the slots parallel to the direction of travel, thus becoming potential wheel traps (except for mountain bike tyres, which of course we didn’t have on our Bromptons), and two unlit tunnels, mercifully short.  I cannot recommend this section of road, but there is no sensible alternative as the opposite side of the river, in Serbia/Bulgaria, has longer and windier tunnels.  At least there was an opportunity to stop near the Iron Gates dam and hydroelectric plant, responsible for the loss of much that was beautiful and unique about the Danube Gorge we had just passed through, though, doubtless welcomed by Romanians and Yugoslavs at the time.

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Only the view from the upstream side is recorded, as a security official prevented photographs from the downstream side.  One does wonder why.

Cycling the Danube. Euro Velo Route 6. Day 3 Part 3.

July 4, 2014

One of the most unpredictable elements of the tour was what road surface we might find.  This didn’t seem to depend on the status of the road.  Minor roads were occasionally smooth and wide with few potholes, so-called trunk roads would suddenly deteriorate to a succession of potholes linked by broken concrete.  The road below, was the main road through the gorge, which suddenly turned to dirt.

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Feeling thirsty in mid afternoon, we left the main road to visit a village perched on the side of the valley. The views were magnificent and the haystacks typical but water was there none – nor Coke either.  It had the local office of the organisation promoting tourism in the whole area – but they were completely unhelpful to actual tourists.

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Fortunately, not much further along we found an isolated pension, right by the river, with magnificent views  downstream both evening and morning.  The fish for dinner was delicious.  It seemed to be run by just one family but the son, in his early 20s, spoke excellent English and sorted out a sudden influx of 5 guests (us plus 3 German cyclists) with no trouble.  The place was clean and comfortable.

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The view downstream in the evening and, below, next morning.

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Cycling the Lower Danube. Euro Velo 6. Day 3 part 2.

July 3, 2014

An apology to start with. Word Press, who host this blog, have made some disimprovements which mean the pictures are smaller and not as sharp  But maybe if you click on the picture you can get an enlarged version.

There were pleasures large and small along the way:

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We rescued this little chap trying to cross the road – took his picture then airlifted him to the far side.

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The were wider pools on the river, one of which must have been the Kazan, or cauldron, which so impressed Patrick Leigh Fermor. Now, of course, it’s drowned in the lake created by the Iron Gorge dam.IMG_2262

 

Around lunchtime, we came across signs for a pension, accommodation and restaurant.  Needing the latter, we scaled a dirt track to find a brand new building, complete with swimming pool, sun loungers, and some rather surprised staff who nonetheless produced us a delicious lunch of polenta and bacon, goat cheese, tomatoes and bread.  It seemed to be part of the sporadic EU funded improvements to the tourist infrastructure – very welcome but we still found ourselves the only guests or diners in several of these establishments.

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The  view upstream

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And  downstream.

 

Cycling the Lower Danube. Euro Velo Route 6. Day 3 Part 1.

July 1, 2014

This was the day we entered the gorge that leads eventually to the Iron Gates.  When Patrick Leigh Fermor visited it in the 1930s the Danube here was still unchecked, and for 100 miles rushed between a succession of narrow defiles, swirling and crashing.  All this was changed when Romania and Yugoslavia built a huge dam and hydroelectric plant, raising the river level, drowning riverside towns and villages, and slowing the torrent.  Nonetheless, it’s still impressive.

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Rather like a Norwegian fjord at this point – clouds too !