Waves of History. Bike Touring in Dobrogea

Dobrogea is a land of wonder. Last year, we biked from Cernavodă to Brăila. We further explored it on our bike for Labor Day, a national holiday in Romania, cycling from Constanța to Babadag over 3 days.

Squished between the Danube and the Black Sea, Dobrogea is, geologically speaking, the oldest part in Romania. The biodiversity in Dobrogea is impressive; there is life all around you, from the smallest mammals to turtles and big, water birds. The landscape, also, is diverse – from the shores of the Black Sea to the blue waters of the Danube you cross plains, plateaus, gorges and even mountains.

Starting from the city of Constanța, built on the ancient Tomis, we cycled north. We soon reach Mamaia, the largest and most luxurious beach resort in Romania, I was stunned to see how little I recognize from childhood and how much has changed. We’re no fans of busy places, of hotels and hordes of tourists; you know, like those big summer resorts are. Needless to say, on a chilly and foggy spring morning, Mamaia was quite enjoyable. For a moment, we even had the whole beach to ourselves and snapped a couple of photographs with the foggy and angry sea.

Leaving Mamaia behind, we cycled straight through Năvodari, to Corbu. With a couple of cold beers, we went to the beach – a wild beach, protected as part of the Danube Delta Reserve. Sadly, over the last few years, Corbu beach had become too popular for its sake and all kinds of nogooders visit it constantly, leaving a lot of trash behind. We relaxed for a while and I am a bit ashamed to admit that I couldn’t drive myself to get naked and go for a swim in the icy waters. Well, maybe next time.

Dobrogea – or Dobruja – is littered with ancient tumuli. Very few of them have been studied by scholars, with some amazing discoveries, while others have been ravaged by treasure hunters. The vast majority lies in the shadow of the anthorities’ indiference. Sadly, this is how the history of this land remains unknown to the large public, while we are blinded with a false view upon our true national identity.

Vadu was the next place on our itinerary. To get there, we go straight over the fields, on dirt roads around the military facility of Corbu. Unfortunately, the roads leading up to the beach were heavily flooded and we turned around. By know, evening was approaching and Adelina felt a little tired, so we started to look for a place to camp. A couple of trees or some big shrubs were all we needed. There were none. We were in the middle of the field. No trees and no features to hide our tent and bikes for the night. Suddenly, it hit me – we had rapeseed fields around us! Rapeseed is pretty tall, isn’t it? After a few minutes, erecting the tent, we were absolutely hidden in the rapeseed field and had a wonderful night.

It’s morning. We wake up under a grey sky, but, looking towards the sea, we catch a glimpse of the sunrise sparkling in the sea waves. We pack our camp and leave this wonderful spot. On our way to the ruins of the ancient city of Histria, we meet Alex. Alex is a bike tourist from Germany, travelling alone in Dobrogea. It makes me happy to find out about more and more cycle tourists in Romania!

Histria was a Greek colony founded in the 7th century BC on what was then the shores of the Black Sea. The city flourished for centuries until finally being abandoned in the 7th century AD, after succesive Avars and Slavs invasions. Nevertheless, we were walking on history.

We arrive at the gates of Histria sweaty and dehydrated. Grey clouds from the morning turned into a blue sky and a vicious summer sun. Before entering the ruins, we visit the nearby museum; it’s a colection of stone artifacts unearthed from history. I enter the ancient city and I instantly remember everything I read about it in childhood, all the images. It’s a wonderful feeling to live as an adult what you read about as a child.

Arganum, the anciet city, is our next important stop, atop cape of Doloșman. We arrive there at dusk. The lake water is so clear, it’s just like a mirror. You cannot tell the sky from the water! I initially wanted to camp as close to the water of the Razim lake, but there are hordes of mosquitos in the air. I mean millions! The buzz around is just like a busy airport. We retreat to safety, a few hundred meters to the west and set up camp. It was a windy night and, in the morning, the mirror-like water turned into an agitated lake. The magic was dispelled.

Enisala citadel is our only objective for today. Enisala is the only remaining medieval citadel in Dobrogea and, in the last years, the tourism has flourished around it. Thus, we don’t expect much. It’s Labor Day and there will be hordes of tourists at Enisala, a sight we usually resent. At the foot of the hill, Adelina decides to remain in shade and take a rest. I rush up to the castle for a quick visit.  There is nothing impressive here. I don’t have the same feeling I had visiting Histria and Argamum.

Here we are, at the end of our bike touring trip in Dobrogea for 2017. In a couple of minutes, we are on the platform of the train station in Babadag, waiting for our ride home. We enjoyed three days of early summer in Dobrogea, visiting ancient cities and wild beaches. We had a wonderful experience sleeping in a rapeseed field and we loved all the life surrounding us. Dobrogea is, truly, a marvelous corner of Romania.

More images from our trip can be seen here. Also, keep an eye on the Adventures section, for inspiration on outdoor trips in Romania. Most import, go back to nature. It’s the most important thing.


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