After I enter a destination into the Sat Nav, after a bit of thought, I am given three route choices:
- Blue: least fuel
- Red: fastest
- Orange: shortest
I entered our destination, Berca in Romania, and was presented with this.
- Least fuel: 335Km, 6hr1
- Fastest: 387Km, 5hr54
- Shortest: 301Km, 5hr45
All that computing power believes that 5hr54<5hr45.
We selected the shortest route, shaving 86Km and a full 9 minutes off the “faster” way.
After spending the last of our Bulgarian money paying the campsite, we found a few more Lev in an isolated pocket. As we still have 10 Kr from Norway kicking about the van we were keen to be rid of this, so we stopped at the first petrol station, refuelled by credit card, and stocked up on water and biscuits for the journey.
Our choice of a cross-country route turned out to be an excellent choice, passing through open countryside and small villages. Just outside the small border town of Silistra the road followed the border fence between Bulgaria and Romania, rusty and weighed down with grass and weeds.
The great European river Danube forms much of the boundary between Bulgaria and Romania, but here it meanders northward in a great S before the delta at the Black Sea, giving Romania some territory south of the river.
On the far side of town we reached the border crossing. A splendid joint building housing both Bulgarian and Romanian officials.
Stuck behind a Ukrainian SUV, it took rather a long time to cross, and documents were checked very carefully: passports, driving licences and “car passport” the V5 registration document, all checked against computer records. Once through, there was the additional bureaucracy of the Romanian car vignette required for using Romanian roads. For that the car reg number was insufficient, the VIN was needed too.
Paperwork completed we moved forward, to the ferry. A somewhat ramshackle boat to take us to the Danube’s northern bank. Once there, yet another queue to pay for the passage, and then we were in Romania proper.
Arriving in Romania felt like coming home. We first landed in Greece from Italy on 7 February, and for very nearly eight weeks in Greece and Bulgaria we’ve been unable to read. But here in Romania we had a chance to work out what signs were telling us. “constructie” for roadworks, and a choice of “femei” or “barbati” at toilets makes the correct choice obvious even without pictures to help.
And Romania is rather nice. Less of the harsh Stalinist architecture, instead warm colourful villages, with wide grass verges framed by garden fences painted in bright colours surrounding vegetable patches and bungalows. Children playing, watched by old grandmothers with weather wizened faces holding a staff in their hand to ward off dogs or pigs. And at the centre of each village a well cared for church. Villages in Romania are living and very much alive with community. We like the little we have seen so far of Romania.