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Published: June 13th 2013
Crossing borders for the BBA seem to be happening every other day although in reality it is not that frequent but we are starting to tote the numbers up.
Another fine and sunny day had dawned(sorry about that to all you Kiwis in the wintry Southern Hemisphere reading this while trying to keep warm)which made for very pleasant driving through the last of the vast Bulgarian wheat and sunflower acreage and over the border into Romania.
We were in no hurry again as it was a relatively short journey up to Mamaia a suburb of Constantia and still on the Black Sea coast.Barry the on site manager said for us to take our time but eventually all good things must come to an end and we finally got away from the very comfortable apartment we had enjoyed for the last two nights.
However we had run out of time on our vignette and it was either buy another one for 7 days at €5 or chance our arm and a €60 fine if we were stopped in the 1 hour drive to the border.
The BBA we might be and we had 'avoided' the police since starting
our travels around Eastern Europe save for being stopped once in Bosnia and then waved on our way.We had seen plenty of police on the roads with their lollipops but we decided not to chance it for €5 and so headed back to Balchik to find a petrol station that sold the vignette.Barry at the apartment did think we would probably be OK with the one that expired yesterday as there were only a few small villages to pass through and the likelihood of police on the roads in force was more at a weekend rather than a Monday.
However he probably hadn't factored in the police/customs at the border exit and although we had been 'waved' into the country there was no guarantee we would be 'waved' out without inspection of our paperwork.
We found the petrol station we were looking for and topped up with diesel spending all of the remaining Bulgarian currency we had bar a few coins.
'What a mistaka to maka' in those famous words of the Italian officer in 'Allo 'Allo.
The guy on the forecourt had been just too efficient and started filling the car almost as soon as
I had got out of the drivers seat to make sure he was putting diesel in and not petrol,as you do!
As we had paid for the first vignette using Euros I had expected that it would be the same at the petrol station.
With the diesel in the tank I handed over the money in payment and asked where I could buy the vignette.He indicated inside and so I presented myself at the counter and asked for a one week vignette.The guy behind the counter responded with the price of 10 Lei which is €5.I went to hand over the €5 but got told that I could only pay in Lei.Bugger,we should have put half the amount of diesel in the tank and used the other 10Lei for the vignette.What to do?Make a run for the border and hope or find a money exchange in Balchik and change €5?We decided on the latter and 15 minutes later we were back buying the vignette.
The rest of the run to the border was uneventful as we passed through more huge areas of golden wheat and deep green sunflowers still a couple of weeks away from flowering.
The road to the border was excellent and little traffic we made very good progress with just a few small towns passed through before the border came into sight.
As it was when we entered from Greece so it was when we left to enter Romania,we were waved through without having to stop.So we got neither an entry nor an exit stamp.
At the Romanian entry point we did have to stop and the officer left with our passports after noting out loud that we were from 'Nouvo Zealande'.After he returned with them and wishing us an enjoyable time in Romania we visited the little window selling the vignette for Romanian roads and parted with €7 to cover a months travel on Romanian roads.We plan to be more than a week in Romania so it was no use buying just one week and we didn't want to go through the problem of running out of time and then having to top up the vignette to carry on beyond a week.
Again,beyond the border buildings the open fields all ran into each other and it appeared that the crop on the Bulgarian side actually ran over well into
Romania as there was no fence or break in the line of the crops.It must be odd living next door to the border and probably crossing countries a few times a day when you are out working in the fields.Although I guess if you did live here you wouldn't even give it a second thought.
First major town was the rather ugly Mangalia(the name probably reflects what you might think the town looked like).It was or had been a major shipbuilding and repairing town and Daewoo from South Korea now seems to have quite an investment in the shipyards if the size of their name on all the buildings was anything to go by.The industry had obviously been so important that the main road north took quite a deviation because going straight would have taken it through the shipyards.
Beyond Mangalia the road became two laned in each direction and the pace and volume of the traffic picked up.It didn't stop the girls of the road to be out amongst the bushes on the both sides at various intervals for a few kilometres outside of the town.What business they would have picked up though is doubtful though because of the speed of the traffic.
Constanta came on the GPS quite quickly it seemed and although we travelled through the city centre we made very good speed due to the smooth flow of traffic in the boulevards that were 3 lanes wide in each direction and traffic lights that seemed to recognise the flow of traffic accurately.
Mamaia was about 7 or 8 kms beyond the centre of Constanta and when it became obvious that there was no order to the lanes that weaved through the multitude of tourist hotels adjacent to the beach we parked the car and walked until we found our hotel.
Our room on the third floor was well appointed and even had a couple of easy chairs to sit in and read or watch TV.We had a view up the beach towards Constanta although the hotel had another building in front of it so the view directly out to sea was blocked.
We had seen a sign for Carrefour on the way in so we found our way there and were pleased to see it was one of those mega supermarkets with everything and more that you could ever want to buy.They had their name on the mall that surrounded the supermarket and we found a money exchange to swap some Euros for Leis.At 4.5 to the Euro we ended up with a wad of notes again and a challenge to figure out the price of things converted back to the Euro which we have got so used to.
Back to the hotel and a walk in a stiff breeze along the beach to stretch the legs.Like everywhere else before Mamaia people were frantically getting ready for the summer season to really kick in once the schools in Romania finish on Friday of this week for 3 months.
Although we would have had the wind at our backs on our return we opted to walk along the wide promenade amongst the hotels and restaurants joining an already large number of holidaymakers enjoying the early evening warm(back from the beach)sun before dinner.
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