We had a 'short' day on Thursday.
23 km which included a visit to theBran Castle. Dick has written about the visit on his blog.
Here are some photographs that tell the story.
The castle looked beguiling as we rode through Bran.
It lost a little of the glister while we waited for an hour to buy tickets.
The wait took us slowly past the stalls.
Corn based dough wrapped around a metal form and cooked over hot coals, lots of cheeses, and the biggest wooden spoon I've seen.
Beautiful hand embroidered muslin shirts.
Slowly, slowly, we wait to enter the castle.
I'm glad I have done lots of step climbing on and off the bike.
Steep narrow stairs, shoulder to shoulder with strangers,
English interpretation panels tell us about the involvement in the restoration work by the descendants of Queen Marie (granddaughter if Queen Victoria) and Ferdinand 1, the first King and Queen of United Romania,. The descendants were sent to exile in 1948 and went to the USA.
There is a token mention of Bram Stoker's appropriation of the castle for his Dracula novel. He had never been in Romania.
A lovely ride through the forest to a beautiful alpine resort hotel was a balm after a hot and crowded few hours.
Then a longer day today.
A glorious surprise for the first stage.
Mountains, forests, alpine villages. We could have been in the Dolomites.
'I lift up my eyes to the mountains-- where does my help come from?' Psalm 121:1
Atop the highest mountain is a cross.
Through corn fields - from where polenta comes,
And fields of sunflowers waiting for harvest.
'As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.' Genesis 8:22
We briefly stop for lunch at a gas station.
A short ride down the road we board our vessel for our cruise across the Danube.
Border control is nearby, the Danube is the border between Romania and Bulgaria.
No one at the Romanian border control,
A short stop at the Bulgarian border and we are on our way.
We stop for a break at a small store cum cafe. Oops, we have no Bulgarian money and they don't use credit cards.
No problem. We were offered a seat. Bottles of water appear. Did we want 'muncha'. No.
We sat just as thunder rolled and big drops of rain fell.
When we left the lady took me in her arms and bade me farewell and safe travels with a kiss on each cheek.
Oh how I love these moments when our hearts meet.
More corn, silos, sunflowers, and then we are in Varna on the coast of the Black Sea.
Time for a stroll along the beach and a meal at the Ernie (sic) Hemingway restaurant over looking the breaking waves and the soaring seabirds.
It was time to reflect and our long ride seemed like a retreat today.
The accommodation is on a par with Switzerland but at a fraction of the price.
There is a cross on the hill far away in the centre.
Dick looking sideways...
The Black Sea, Varna Bulgaria