96km, 3 countries and a sunburn later….

This morning we woke up around 7.30 and set off at 9. We are definitely getting better at packing our things away. We cycled back down the sandy banking we had camped on and continued down the road towards vidin, a town in Serbia on the other side of the Danube that we were on. We decided to take the road that goes across an island back into Serbia instead of trying the get a ferry from Calafat, the town on the opposite side of the Danube from Vidin. Upon exiting Romania, the border police took our passports while a customs guy stayed and talked to us. He said it might take a little while because they didn’t see many Austrian citizens coming from Romania so they werent sure about the procedure of checking my passport. He joked I might be the first Austrian even in their country.

We had cycled about 40 km by the time we got into town where we decided to have lunch, check train times to go from Vidin to Sofia and check the remaining distance to the Bulgarian border and to Vidin.

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Cafe culture in Negotin

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Negotin main square

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Wild tortoise number 2

The cycle path sign near the border said it was another 18 or so km to the border but the ever so friendly Serbian locals told us if we stayed on the main road it was more like ten. the headwind was strong but luckily a farm so truck was going our way and the farmers thought it was amusing to carry us along in their slipstream. The lady at the Bulgarian border told us Vidin was only another 30 km away – by that time we had already done about 60 but it was only half past 2 pm and the train from Vidin went at 6 pm so we had plenty of time. Or so we thought.

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Wild pig on the an island between Romania and Serbia

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Through Serbia the cycle path has been incredibly well sign posted but our favourite bit is that each sign has a quote at the bottom, some are wise and some even funny but it’s a pleasure to stop and read each one. Mike’s favourite is ‘do not worry if you run out of money in Serbia, everybody does!’

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Bulgarian border

On a cycle trip like this one you do surprise yourself at how far you can go but you also find out a lot about your personal limits. My breaking point was at 80km, where I had to stop because I couldn’t go any further, I was crying and annoyed at myself for doing so and thought I would never ever be able to make another 20 km in an hour and a half. 80 km does not seem that far, at least not to experienced cyclists, but bear in mind that it was our fourth day of cycling all day in a row without a day’s rest, and that I was not just carrying my own weight plus the bike’s but more like 85kg.
Anyhow, after a little break, some water and some sugar, Mike and I continued on and Mike offered to sing me a song, so I asked him to sing “the one with the dog” (the title song to the UK kid’s tv show “The Littlest Hobo”). Three times. If that wouldn’t cheer you up, I don’t know what will.

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Onwards to Sofia

We made it to Vidin at 20 minutes to 6, according to our GPS, just in time to comfortably catch the train to Sofia. The clock in the train station was displaying 20 minutes to 7 which was clearly wrong, we had done everything to get there on time for the last train of the day. Except that we did not know that Bulgaria runs an hour ahead of Serbia. We hadn’t considered the time difference.

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A very tired looking kathi

We found a hotel online we wanted to stay at that night and tried to find it three times, adding an extra 8 km to our trip.
So there you have it. We cycled 108 km in one day. After cycling 75km, then 50km, then 85km for three consecutive days, respectively. You may think getting the trains cheating. You do it, then we’ll talk. 🙂

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