Reaching the Black Sea Coast was going to be our first big milestone of the trip, finally some sparkling blue waters, sand under our toes and days lazing in the sun ahead of us after driving inland for the past 3 weeks. And a milestone it certainly was (high fives all around as we could see WATER!!), but the reality of the Romanian Black Sea was a little different to what we imagined. Choppy grey water washing up onto a windy, shelly beach surrounded by cigarette butts, empty bottles and a run-down resort town was what greeted us as we came into Mamaia, the ‘seaside jewel in Romania’s crown’. Thanks 2005 edition of Eastern Europe Lonely Planet for getting our hopes up.
Nevertheless, we were ready to relax for a few days and knew/hoped that it would get better the further south we went (ie. Bulgaria), so we started to drive around the surrounding areas of the main city Constanta in search of a good spot to pull up on the beach for a few nights.
Unfortunately we were chased off those spots by the packs of wild dogs that run Romania so we lumped for a quite nice campsite instead which was still pretty cheap, Campsite GPM Holidays in Navodari. The owner told us as it was the end of the season, she would be closing up shop in 2 days so we were just in time. And so were a group of 25 French grey nomads in oversized camper-beasts that arrived just as we did. Also in the campsite were two Californian cycle tourists, Kyle and Briana, who’d been cycling around Europe on their sweet tandem ride and ended up in Romania before heading to Greece to go rock-climbing. Much more adventurous than us but it was nice to have some like minds to hang out with while we were there and they assured us Bulgaria would be much more beautiful.Our two days in the area were not a total bust however, we managed to finally get our hammock (thanks Iamsterdam.com) up and swinging which made for some seriously relaxing outdoor reads. We also got our bikes off the back and checked out the surrounding areas, which were basically ghost towns besides one or two open bakeries/convenience stores/small bars. It was quite eerie being in a place you can imagine is completely rammed with local beach tourists just two weeks beforehand and now looks like no man has roamed its shores for decades. I don’t think you can really understand on-season and off-season till you’ve experienced a place like this.
After the two nights we’re kicked out and head south on the Black Sea towards beautiful Bulgaria.