Odesa–Focșani (2013-12-09–2013-12-13)

After leaving Odesa I went by a road that goes along the sea. Initially I planned to go along the sea as long as possible and admire the views on the way. Unfortunately, the coastal area is full of buildings or there are fences, so you can’t see anything. I couldn’t see anything even when I was on the narrow stripe of ground where the sea is on one side and gulf on another. In rare good moments I saw sea edge and dirty icy crumbs there. A cold breeze was blowing hard.

I had to change my plan and left the coastal area in the evening. On one hill I’d overtaken a man who pushed his bicycle uphill hardly. Then I stopped to turn on the rear light. He came to me and started asking questions. It was the first time that a person was so negative and skeptical. He didn’t ask about good things happen with me during the trip. Mostly he told I’ll get sick, I’ll be robbed, and so on. He couldn’t get what moves me forth. Also he asked me where I usually sleep. I told him that a forest is the most popular place I choose. He’d hemmed, went further and turned to his house after fifty meters.

During the day I tested thermoses that I’d bought in Odesa. It’s cool (no, warm!) to drink hot tea when it’s -5°C or lower outside. Moreover is helps against dehydration: you don’t want to drink much in the wintertime, and for sure you don’t want to drink icy water. But you drink hot tea with pleasure. So, I drank even more liquid than in warm days.

In the morning on the next day I tried to start riding, but wind was so strong (45 km/h according to weather forecast), that I could do only a few kilometers and then hided behind a wall of a battery farm. Birds (not from the battery farm) desperately tried to fly against wind, but were frozen in one place, flapped their wings, then gave up and glided in the opposite direction for long time. When I tried to fill a cup by tea from a thermos, one third of the liquid flew away out of the cup. Drops on the thermos wall got frozen fast.

I stood behind the wall about one and half hour and come to conclusion that I have to choose one of two options: go to a nearest shop, then find a place for the tent and don’t go anywhere on that day, or go further in spite of everything. Anyway, it was pointless just to stand on one place.

I tried to throw out all the thoughts in my head and concentrate only on the road. Only one word buzzed in my mind: “road, road, road…” After a while even this word had disappeared. I, bicycle and road—we had become the whole. I went uphill without tiredness, went on a broken road, went against the wind. I stopped only once to put balaclava on. I went quite much on that day.

It was snowing slightly in the evening. It took more time to cook food due to the low temperature outside.

On the next day I stopped at a shop in Zhovtnevoe village close to the border with Moldova. Slightly drunk, friendly men were in front of the stop. Some hryvnias remained in my pocket, so I spent them to buy expensive sweets. In the evening it started snowing hard, I lost a chance to stay in Galați, and I ate almost all the candies to boost my mood.

I had to find a new host, it was hard to do from mobile phone, so I took my notebook and “spammed” many people. Alina from Focșani in Romania replied me back, I could sleep easy.

Snow didn’t stop for the whole night, everything was covered by 20 cm deep layer of snow in the morning. It was the first serious snow in that place, so it was ice-slick on the road. There were almost no cars on the road due to these conditions, a truck driver was hesitating to go downhill. Vibram sole didn’t work nice on ice.

I’m not sure that even studded tyres could manage that ice-slick. I went along roadside, there was crumbly snow. Rules of safe riding in the snow are simple: go slowly and straight. But you have to be ready to falls, even with proper tyres (which I didn’t have) falls are inevitable. I fell down three times: first time I just got used to cycling in the snow, second time a shoelace got stuck in a pedal, third time someone decided to “greet” me and honked in the back. I was frightened, pulled the handlebar and fell down.

Actually I don’t understand such people. I understand when a truck goes slowly on the opposite lane, driver makes a short honk and shows his palm. Or sometimes I meet moto-travellers. Usually they slow down, raise their hand up and respectfully nod. It looks like they admit me into their brotherhood. But I have no idea about thoughts of the drivers who honk me in the back. And I have no doubts that this is kind of “greeting”— I can’t impede anyone taking snowy roadside in one meter right from a paved road.

After 30 km snow started melting and turning into dirty slush, cycling became easier.

On the Moldovan-Romanian border everything happened very slowly, I got a bit chilly. Romanian border guards were very polite, but in the same time quite cheerful. One of them spoke Russian a bit, he wished me luck for a long time.

I went around Galați in hope to find a camping place. Nope, nothing suitable. Bought a pack of cigarettes. Quite expensive compare to previous countries—12 lei (3.6 $, one third of my usual daily budget). OK, Romania is a part of the European Union now, so it’s explicable. In other countries of the European Union it’s more expensive.

On the map there was a forest behind railway road, but the main part of it was behind a river that wasn’t marked on the map. So I put my tent up close to the railway road.

On the next day I had arrived in Focșani without problems. Roads are great in Romania, the very riding itself was a pleasure. Before coming to Romania I read outdated Lonely Planet and they wrote in details how terrible Romanian roads are. So, the times they are a-changin’.

Typical buildings of the communist past surrounded me near Alina’s place, she’d found me and we went home.

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