18th - 26th March 2003
We crossed the "Friendship Bridge" on the 18th March and entered Romania. The main change was the language, Romanian is a Latin language written in the 'English' alphabet, with some similarities to French, Spanish and Italian. Also the money went mad, everything is in thousands of lei, with one million lei worth about thirty euros. On my first attempt at a cash withdrawl I failed to press the zero key enough times and got twelve pounds' worth!
We found ourselves a cheap hotel in Giurgiu just a couple of kilometers from the border. Cycling into the town were conscious of being very conspicuous with our brightly coloured panniers and clothing. Sure enough, although most people we asked the way from were very helpful, we acquired a 'follower' who traipsed round after us ogling the bikes. This and the rather latin driving made us think that cycling into Bucharest was perhaps not such a good idea.
Instead we took a minibus in and out of the capital on several days, while we sorted our Russian and Ukrainian visas. On our first visit we met up with some colleagues of a friend in England. They had kindly agreed to receive a parcel of guidebooks, maps and bike spares for us, and they gave us a lot of very useful advice about road conditions and good places to visit. Here we are with Dani and Liliana in their office in the Geography Department of Bucharest University:
And some of the sights of Bucharest:
Dani invited us to visit her one Sunday afternoon and cooked typical Romanian food, chicken and polenta. Polenta is ground maize, it is going to be good because it is dense and easy to cook. There is a recipe for it on Ju's part of the site. It was interesting to see inside a 'block' too, on the outside they are crumbing concrete and peeling paint but on the inside they can be lovely flats. Here we are with Dani and two of her friends, about to start on the polenta.
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Romania cycling info