Altitude Profile (-43 ft to 466 ft)
For this part of the trip we started from Braila to Tulcea. The route was an easy 80 km – or so we thought. But first let us recapitulate some things about the city. Braila had captivated us with some stunning city center that tells of wealth acquired by a port at the beginning of the 20 th century. This port is located at the Danube, which we saw here for the first time. We didn’t see too much of Braila, yet it was the prettiest town we have seen throughout the journey. Even though the old houses are mostly not renovated, there are very few if none high buildings from the communist era in the city center, but special ways for pedestrians. We staid over at the hotel Paris which got mixed reviews from our group: some slept very well, others not, so let us just say, it was good money for value and was positioned well.
When setting off in the direction of Tulcea, it is important to remember that there is no bridge crossing the Danube, but one has to use a ferry. It is about three kilometers outside of Braila and ca. 2,5 Lei for a bike. It leaves when its full, about every 45 Minutes and only takes 10 minutes.
Starting off in the direction of Tulcea on the main road, we were surprised by the good quality of asphalt and few cars. Also, the first kilometers are beautifully close to the river and accompanied by an row of trees. The first interesting birds come up, but also the first obvious military boats, which can feel a bit intimidating.
We followed the road close to the Ukrainian border, paralleling the Danube – and were very surprised by the hilly profile of the tour. Though it is only 80 km we made about 650 meters in height. Also it was very hot and the asphalt began to melt. On bike chain ripped, which me luckily managed to fix (always keep some chain parts and the tools with you for such a ride). On the other side though three out of four of our group found this tour the most beautiful one. The changes in scenery, the large wheat and sunflower fields, the hills, the Danube – it is a most pleasant view that will keep your mind wandering when the body hurts. Also, on a less hot day (it was about 35 °C), the asphalt will certainly be ok.
Going into Tulcea is kind of a shock, as a huge aluminum factory welcomes visitors coming from this direction. Luckily though, the city is located very well on the Danube, giving it a maritime aura (we thought of a Balkan version of Monaco). There is a good infrastructure for tourists and athletes with a park and a little lake, on which we had a great dinner. Our hostel Nicol was located not so well, even though the owners were nice. Yet the value for money in other hostels or hotels throughout the journey used to be better. Maybe you find something nice within Tulcea.
We visited the Museum of the History of the Danube, which was ok and small in size (it has an aquarium in the cellar which displays different fish of the Delta and also shows typical scenes from the day to day life of the inhabitants).
Thrilled to enter the delta we got tickets for the ferry. Everyone, who would like to enter the Delta by bike is welcome to read the rest. All others should now, that there is a beautiful endeavor to cycle from Braila to Tulcea!
So, the ferry. It costs 56 Lei to get to Sulina, the ferry takes about three hours and was stuffed on a regular weekday, because it only runs once a day and is the only public transport, that connects all the villages on the Danube within the Delta. Sulina is its final destination. To carry your bike on the ferry costs about 10 Lei each. Mind you: be very early to get it easily and safely onto the ferry. It gets crowded! Be there when it opens it gates, to be sure. But also we, who got there kind of late, only 45 minutes before departure, got the bikes on there. There is always a way in Romania!
Sulina itself is worth a visit, even though we didn’t get to bike. We stayed at the Hotel Coral, which was nice and central, and visited the old lighthouse. Sulina also has a very interesting cemetery, with Jewish, Muslim, Orthodox and Christian sections; also pirates and international visitors from the late 19 th century are buried here. The history of the cemetery offers insights in Sulina’s complex history in a way a museum could never do.
The beach of Sulina is not touristy at all, but has huts and a small restaurant. And it is pretty. Go there unless you have a good excuse to stay where you are.
The way back then was a new adventure. As already mentioned the ferries go seldom and they have stopped going back to Tulcea on the weekends at all. So we awaited the ferry to leave at 7 am in the morning on a Saturday only to figure that it wouldn’t go. Thanks to our Romanian friend Lucian we got a small speed boat that was privately owned. We were 7 adults plus captain and a child – and our four bikes, plus all luggage. It seemed impossible that everything would fit in there. Yet, it fit. On the way we even took someone in whose boat had broken down. In Romania it will fit. We got back way more quicker, in under two hours, even though it cost about 90 Lei per person this time. This gave us more time though to cycle down to Corbu, our next stop. Read more about the route “Tulcea-Corbu (Constanta)” in another post!
N 45°17.237' E 27°59.898'
N 45°17'14.269" E 27°59'53.889"
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N 45°10.744' E 28°46.425'
N 45°10'44.640" E 28°46'25.507"
N +45.1790668 E +28.7737521
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