Constanta & Friends

Leaving Tulcea and heading along the coast of Constanta was our last scenic drive of the trip and although it's doable in a couple of hours, we had all day and figured we would do a plethora of stop-offs and viewpoints along the way.

After this beautiful lake we spotted an old fortress called Enisala Medieval Fortress from the road, and had to pull over for a better look. 

It was a great start to the day! Until, that is, a minor concern that had me sweating… We were close to running out of fuel and hadn't realised until we were quite far away from a big town. We figured it would all be okay and we'd fill up at the next small town… but there was no petrol… and the next town… no petrol. So the sweating became a little more profuse and I started to do a stock take of supplies in the car. We had some water but not enough to survive a day in the baking June sun… I sweated even more, which did not help the hydration problem.

A kind lady pointed us in the direction of a town that had a petrol station and so we spluttered our way there. We ended up at the port of the village, where we assumed we could get fuel. I stopped and asked a stranger for advice. He surprisingly answered in near perfect English, which was not too common in a small village in Romania. He told us where the petrol station was and asked for a ride to his house, which was on the way. Alarm bells started ringing. The angst of running out of fuel was seeping into my trust of the fellow human. We spoke to Alex, our hitchhiker, and found out he had worked all over Europe, mainly as a chef. He spoke several languages and was very friendly and smiley. We arrived at his house and he offered us breakfast and even a place to lie down if we wanted a nap. Alarm bells rang again so we got his number and told him we would get fuel and then come back, or text him and say "thanks but no thanks…"

I know a lot, if not most people would have declined the offer and thought Alex was some kind of psycho/murderer/rapist/weirdo, but we are not most people. We had met an English lady who resided in Romania, back in Cluj, who said she hoped we would get a flat tyre just so we would see the kindness of strangers in Romania. Fortunately this didn't happen but the fuel crisis had sparked a similar response from the country. After getting petrol, we returned and accepted Alex's offer with open arms, entering his home with curiosity. He showed us what a village house was like, with plentiful land where he grew all manner of vegetables, had chickens, turkeys, and the house was lovely inside. His father was at home, while his mother and sister were working in Spain. It was fascinating to see a home like this.

Alex and his new friend!

Alex was waiting on the arrival of some equipment he needed for his new restaurant and decided to show us some sights that you'd never find in a tour book. He took us to a Roman ruin that he had helped uncover as a child. A huge Roman barracks was based there, on the edge of the cliff, and we saw walls and the remnants of a fire. It was a great sight. We also saw the most giant dandelions.

What a wonderful chance encounter this turned out to be. It reinforced the belief that people are generally good and we ought to have more faith in the kindness of strangers because the world doesn’t end if you trust people. When we eventually arrived in Constanta we thought the world might actually be ending, as the huge amount of dandelion fluff consumed everything. It was Day of the Dandetriffids and my hayfever, which had been bothering me all holiday, was only going to get worse.

The beach in Constanta wasn’t the prettiest and the weather was actually horrendous for the first time on the trip. It meant we spent a day and a bit chilling in the hotel before heading to Bucharest. We didn't see much in Bucharest either, except for an old friend, Adam, who we met in Korea, also known as Part 1 of this very blog! It was great to see him still living the dream abroad as an expat and made us jealous, as we were heading back to the UK to our corporate jobs… with Spain still a few months away at this point.

And that's almost it for Romania, but join us next time as we see some photo highlights of the weird and wonderful, as well as spending some time looking at the food of this trip! Much love.

Day of the DandeTriffids

Chilling with Alex by the Roman Ruins

Enisala Medieval Fortress
Constanta was a bit drab!

The only photo we took in Bucharest! We must go back!

More birds than you could shake a GoPro at!

We were very excited about this part our Romanian adventure: visiting the Danube Delta. The delta is the place where the Danube river meets the sea and we'd read that in June, when we would be visiting, it is teeming with life. That being said, we did find that our tour of the delta turned out to be more like Disneyland than we expected, meaning the build-up and excitement was better than the actual event.

We had pre-arranged a boat tour from a town called Tulcea, with Safce Delta Tours who were very nice and the ride was safe and enjoyable. They were very accommodating and we would thoroughly recommend using them!

The highlight of the day was getting up close and personal with thousands of pelicans and watching them awkwardly fly away. This was a remarkable moment and made the trip a worthwhile experience.

There was something missing though, and I think it was our enthusiasm. We have probably been spoiled in our lives, having done boat tours in the Amazon, on Borneo, and in the Philippines, to name a few. Maybe it shows the difference between wildlife concentration in this part of Europe compared to rain forests, because we felt somewhat underwhelmed by the number and variety of birds we saw. Or perhaps it was just one of those days where our moods were slightly off for one reason or another and we simply judged the experience too harshly.

Anyway let's not focus on the negative, it was very much a great experience and I especially enjoyed spending a day where I wasn’t responsible for the transportation. Sitting on the boat was very relaxing and we both enjoyed a chilled day of egrets, herons, cormorants, and so many more we couldn’t identify. I even had the pleasure of sitting on the front of the boat with the wind rushing through my hair and the world at my feet!

The boat had an extremely useful laminated folder of birds from the area, so we had a go at identifying what we saw and came up with this list:

Great white pelican
Dalmatian pelican
Great cormorant
Pygmy cormorant
Red necked grebe
Yellow heron
Great egret
Small egret
Black ibis
White ibis

As well as the boat ride, the day involved a jeep ride on an island, to Letea forest and some sand dunes. The forest was teeming with mosquitoes and millions of the little bastards swarmed us as soon as we set foot in the forest, feasting upon us with glee! The forest is the most northern subtropical forest in the world, and there is a legend that says the sand dunes were once at the bottom of the sea and rose to the surface. The tour guide didn't tell us, but I have read that a washed up ship was once found under the dunes…but I'm not sure how true that story is…

What is true is that there are loads of wild horses everywhere. I wanted to try and tame one but we didn't have time.

The most interesting part of this visit to the island was the variety. It was an odd contrast, seeing a swampy forest with vines and old oak trees right next to huge sand dunes. We also saw lakes with water lilies and lots of meadows. The rural village had a church tower and it was interesting to see how these fisherpeople lived.

We have one last post about Romania, which includes old friends, new friends, a trip to the beach and our final night in Bucharest. See you soon!

The scenery was beautiful, varied and peaceful

Katie's birthday binoculars got a great first trip out!

Red necked grebe

Grebe's nest


We couldn't get enough of these great white pelicans, as you can tell by how many photos we took!

Apparently there are 20,000 in Romania, almost all of which are in the Danube Delta, making it the biggest colony in Europe

There may also have been some dalmation pelicans in amongst the others, but it was impossible to get a photo as they were so far away 

We stopped here for lunch during the tour. The food will be discussed in a later post but the house itself had some unusual features...

...including this swallow's nest, complete with actual swallow!

It's a bit hard to see but the guy on the left is holding a huge catfish that he just caught!

The mozzy-infested swamp forest

Katie practically ran across these planks while trying to coat herself in bug repellent.

Buzau and Mud Volcanoes!

Just a short one today about a wonderful day we had driving the scenic roads around Buzau. It was the second best day we had for scenery in Romania (after the Transfagaran road) and the lush forests and gorgeous roads made for a real spectacle.

We were heading from Brasov to the Danube Delta, but factored in a stop at a mud volcano in Berca. There were two main volcano sites and they were equally great and both worth visiting. I’ve never seen terrain like this in real life and the photos can't paint a full picture, with the faint smell of sulphur in the air. The smell wasn't that noticable after a while, but Katie did have a headache by the time we left!

There were areas of wet mud that bubbled with hydrogen sulphide and then places with dried mud that gave way a bit under the weight of your foot, like a spongy trampoline. The contrast in scenery was delightful. These volcanoes added key minerals to the soil, making the area so lush and fertile.

The final part of the drive flattened out and this day really highlighted the variety in environments across Romania. It was a long day on the road but totally worth it!

Join us next time for a trip around the Danube Delta!