12 August 2016


We keep riding North and, after three weeks of Bulgaria, we get to Romania, first country of our change of plan.
I have a very bad sense of direction and when we have to follow the coast I’m usually happy because it sorts of cancels my inferiority complex towards Chiara who, besides having a better sense of direction than mine, is the custodian of the GPS.
Romania welcomes us with Vama Veche.
In Ceaușescu’s times, this was a free, little, intellectual and alternative oasis; today, it’s a camp of metal sheets and noise, drought and dusty sand, heat and density aiming at being free and alternative.
I perceive the town, its lack of urban planning and tourists as a single, confused entity, a mix of cars, buildings, people and drought.  
Luckily, there (almost) are no buildings on the sea, so it’s usually enough to look a bit further to find peace and ignore the disasters of mankind.
The global complot of holidays during “the first two weeks of August”, one of the biggest traps of our times, hits us brutally in Romania, and finishes us in Ukraine.
We will spend hours looking for places to sleep.
Spaces suitable for tents, both public and private, are as full as hotels and guest houses, with bushes turned into outhouses and bins bursting with the consumption of this human tide that hit the coast.
You can’t complain about traffic when you are a part of it, so we do our best to get away from this craziness, with poor results.
In Ukraine, the combination of lack of Western tourism and Cyrillic script turns every restaurant menu into complex, inaccessible graphics; the circle is closed by the absence of English-speaking staff. Every restaurant order becomes a little show where we perform simple dishes that we can mimic: chicken, eggs, Caesar salad (the latter, with no need to mimic the famous Julius).
And finally, bread, easily orderable by pointing at other tables, but always followed by unbelievable complications.
“How many slices?”
“Well, how big are they?”
“Like this”
“Then 5”
All of this, in gestures, only to then find at our table 5 dry slices of toast bread, always after having finished our meal. Always.
Food is extremely important in a bike trip. Long days of physical activity require a correct nutrition both in quality and quantity.
Frustration often leads us to fill the holes left by inadequate meals with industrial biscuits.
From our point of view, an anachronistically positive note are the terrible conditions of Ukrainian roads.
Ukraine, in fact, overturns out idea of viability: cars dance slowly from one direction of the road to the other, and with dusty oscillations they forget road rules to comply with the rules of physics, expressed in the holes left by years, like scars on the asphalt.
At the side of the road, we therefore find secondary dirt roads drawn by the passage of vehicles and which constitute a sort of third lane of no one.
In this scenario, with our thin wheels and small volume, we often find ourselves pedaling alone on the asphalt, while cars race between dirt and mud on the side of the road.
Cars are as old as communism and are efficiently used in a sort of precursor of carpooling, where sharing is determined by poverty rather than by love for the environment.
Suffocated by the asphyxiating heat of August we slowly get to Odessa, a beautiful and rich pearl of the Black Sea.
I have been eagerly waiting for its tree-lined roads, pedestrian areas, cosmopolitan atmosphere and international restaurants; and of course, the day before getting there, I got food poisoned and stayed in bed for three days with fevers, vomit and diarrhea.
From the bed, I imagined what I was missing, including the menus in English.
Chiara, instead, is flawless, with her smile and positivity, she’s the best cure for my pains.
When we are ready and back in shape, it’s time to embark towards Georgia, on the other shore of the Black Sea.
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