Romania was always going to be a slow part of my journey as it is at this point that I needed to persuade the Russian and Chinese authorities that they wanted me to visit their countries.  Whilst they were deliberating, I headed across the Carpathians and into Iasi where I have been volunteering for three weeks at EuroEd, teaching English. 

After leaving behind my beautiful hostel in Geoagiu, I headed for the Carpathians with the hope that I would have a more successful mountainous experience than I had in the Alps.  Whilst there was a small sprinkling of snow in some higher, more shaded areas, the roads were very much clear even if the skies weren't.  To greet me at the top of the first climb was a Hungarian on a bicycle who invited me to join him and his family for a meal, and then I was invited to stay the night in the home of his fiancee's cousin as apparently a lot of the drivers on the roads would be drunk as it was Labour Day.  In the morning, after saying my goodbyes, I crawled up a slightly eerie climb as the swirling cloud crept up slowly through the valley, and after reaching the top I fought to hold off the cramp building in my hands as I tried to control my speed as I weaved down through the gorge on the other side.  

On my final day of cycling before stopping here in Iasi, I decided to try to avoid the busy main road that runs from Roman to Iasi by taking a shortcut on more minor roads.  After pausing for a couple of chocolate filled doughnuts for breakfast, I set out on a fairly good tarmac road.  By the time I was feeling increasingly pleased with myself for choosing such a quiet and smooth route, this faded into a dirt road, slightly slower but perfectly passable despite the dogs best efforts to thwart me.  

Whilst I have finally got used to dogs attempting to make me fall off my bike by barking from behind fences  everywhere I go, they have now stepped up their campaign by enlisting the help of the stray dogs that seem to be resident in all towns and villages throughout Romania.  I am regularly chased through the streets of Romania but so far have avoided being bitten or running any of them over.  Normally I can out pace these fearsome canines but if there is a steep hill through a town or village I just have to spin my legs as fast as I can and make my best big scary dog noises!

After charging through another village with more stray dogs barking at my heels, the road turned into a mud track.  Further up the hill, this turned to sticky clay which had been churned up by the comings and goings of the horse and cart.  The result was clogged up wheels which would no longer turn and me shuttling back and forth carrying all my bags and my bike until the sticky clay track turned back just to standard mud.  When I eventually got back onto the main road, the road signs showed that I had saved myself a whole 3km for all my efforts.  At least I still made it to EuroEd before dark.

In order to appear slightly more respectable for teaching, the fluff that had been accumulating on my face over the past few months was scraped away.  I also had a haircut and without my noticing, they managed to shave in a receding hairline!  Can't trust these Romanian hair salons!

I'm so glad I came to Iasi because as well as the teaching experience I have got, I have also been able to spend time with some wonderful people.  It's been so nice to have people to speak regularly to in English and to build some friendships here. It is with some sadness that I prepare for my last night in Iasi before I wipe the dust from my bike, squeeze back into my lycra and get back on the bike. 

And finally...

All my life I have failed miserably in my quest to become more noticeable when viewed sideways, but it seems that over the past couple of weeks I have stumbled across the answer: cycle from Aberdeen to Romania then take a break from almost all physical exertion whilst simultaneously increasing food intake from the already rather large quantities that had been making up my diet whilst cycling.  The result: I managed to put on over a stone of blubber after just one week.  I still come in on the famished side of 10 stone but at least it's progress!