Starting at Trafalgar Square, I headed south for New Haven to catch the ferry over to Dieppe. Simply because, it was exactly 50 miles form London to the port, and from Dieppe to Paris, 100. It was a nice way to start the trip, easing into the journey with 150 miles over two days. Although, it didn’t really work out that well.
After getting lost on the way Paris, I took a straight route out east through Strasbourg and into Germany. I had to head north up to Pforzheim, as mountains and hills ran up from the southern boarder. Munich seemed like a cool place to visit, so I simply ticked off the cities on the way, Stuttgart, Ulm, Augsburg, Munich and to Passau.
From Passau I picked up the river Danube that would run east to the Black Sea. It’s an amazing route to follow and great for a first time tour. Incredibly simple to navigate, as it winds through beautiful scenery, towns and villages. Following the banks of the river, I traveled through Austria – Linz, Krems an Der Donau, Vienna Slovakia – Bratislava, Hungary – Budapest, Serbia – Novi Sad, Belgrade. From here the GPS had a bit of a fit and turned off, later turning back on somewhere near the Romania Boarder. Not sure why that was, but I can assure you, I continued along the riverbank by bicycle!
I stayed on the Serbian side of the river as it bordered Romania, after meeting a 47 year old, Swiss cyclist. She was travelling in the opposite direction, and advised against the lorry highway, that traced along the Romanian border. The only downside of continuing in Serbia was the huge climbs, and catching a glimpse of the neighbouring road, that appeared to be flat along the rivers edge. However the Serbian mountain passes were incredibly beautiful and well worth the extra leg work.
Just before Guri Vaii, I crossed the river at a border crossing and was officially in Romania. To avoid the Carpathian Mountains to the east meant travelling south, Poiana Mare and Turnu Magurele, before heading north to Bucharest via Alexandria. It was originally the plan to head to Constanta to reach the Black Sea, and then North into Ukraine and Russia via Mariupol. However, I had travelled with Martin, a German cyclist, since Vienna, and in Bucharest he picked up two German female cyclists heading for Georgia. Unfortunately this meant, we ended up travelling a lot slower. The Russian visa I had began to count down, and I estimated that although I would reach Russia in time to enter, I wouldn’t manage to leave into Kazakhstan in enough time. I wasn’t quite sure of the consequences I would face at the Russian Boarder, a fine, imprisonment, or deportation?
Martin was heading to Iran via Turkey, so we offloaded our two new companions and headed for Turkey. En-route we picked up another German cyclist, Vitally, we were now a trio.