First of all, here’s our survival kit list for the Delta. Well, we tried to think of everything and we ended up taking too much food and too many clothes with us, yet forgot the tissues and the toilet paper at home.
Personal flotation device
Sunglasses with a strap [we actually managed to find a strap that fits any pair of regular sunglasses]
Water and food
First aid kit
Cooking utensils + knife
Water shoes or water sandals
Cap and buff
Trousers and shorts
Long-sleeve synthetic shirt
A set of dry clothes in the dry bag
Wetsuit [not really necessary, as the water was very warm]
Marcel and I left Braşov really late; consequently, we stopped in Oneşti, planning to continue to Brăila the following morning.
Tip: Don’t forget to signal the presence of a longer kayak on your car by means of a reflective fabric.
Stocked with the last supplies, we started our drive to Brăila via Focşani. The Tulcea crossing took around 10 minutes and cost 22.50 lei (2 passengers, 1 car).
Tip: Follow the road signs to Tulcea in order to get to the ferry.
On the other side of the Danube, the backdrop had changed: we had left the dry yellow behind, joining the fresh green! The light was the same inviting one that I remembered from August 2011 – an evening one, though. Still, all the surroundings of Măcin Mountains (the lowest in Romania) seemed to smile at us, continuously and for no apparent reason. It felt good to be back.
In no time, we were in Isaccea, then in Şomova, and then we took a left to Parcheş and stopped for information near a 5* complex. We had noticed another kayak, so, in the end, we went down to the water and pitched our tent up. The sunset, the water, the setting – they were all better than I had hoped, but I was a bit disappointed by the large amount of waste found on the site [which we cleaned right before setting our tent up; this is clearly another story].
Marcel was very agitated, as he knew that the golden hour of the mosquitoes was about to start, so he urged me to start paddling. I did. I had paddled so much in Marcel’s kayak, that I had forgotten how it felt to ride BLU. Soon during our ride, we discovered mangroves and many birds roaming fearlessly around us. The sights were fantastic and so was their energy. Unfortunately, the light got dimmer and dimmer, so we had to return to our tent. Then came the mosquito attack (a fierce one). Then we had dinner. Then we went to bed.
We were woken up by the fishermen, really early. As the sun was starting to heat the tent, we figured it was high time to have breakfast and then paddle and explore the canals and adjacent lakes. It felt like a detective job at times – guessing the name of a bird seen from afar or venturing into lily-swarmed lakes were high on that day’s list. We didn’t even feel the intimidating heat thanks to the lush vegetation protecting us all the way through the canals.
That is, until we returned to the tent. I realised that it could have been the worst idea to stay in that heat while hoping for the cooler hours to arrive. We packed everything and left, also searching for a new camping spot. Parcheş was our first try; Şomova followed. Somewhere between Şomova and its neighbouring village, Marcel couldn’t fight the temptation and had to go for a dip. Unfortunately, although clean, the grounds were very wet… that is, really unfit for camping.
We ended up hiding away from the sizzling 37ºC in Mineri, near Tulcea, at Pensiunea Lebăda and its nice location. After that, defeated, I fell asleep on the way to Saon Monastery [Marcel knew that we could somehow camp on the monastery grounds]. He woke me up on a happy tone: ‘Come with me, I’ve just found the most incredible and peaceful spot for us to camp – we have to ask Mother Superior’s permission though, to get the car there, as well’. One sturdy woman – this Mother Superior. She immediately said yes, without expecting anything in return, and then she rode away in a motor boat that she was driving. To a person that’s not at all into priests, nuns, and the institution of the Church as a whole, Mother Superior’s attitude came as a surprise.
After pitch up, we started our paddling/discovery session on Lake Telnicea, planning to reach Lake Rotundu. An adrenaline rush soon followed, as we were caught by the storm right in the middle of the lake. I could say that I made it to the pier by the skin and the teeth. I barely managed to try out my new mobile shower – which is great and I absolutely recommend it –, because the heavy rain made it impossible for Marcel and I to have dinner anywhere else but inside our tent.
We woke up to a very cool morning: it seemed like we had bidden summer ‘farewell’ [even though we didn’t actually acknowledge its presence during 2014] and welcomed autumn. After a short breakfast, we both knew that we weren’t keen on facing that brisk air or that cold water. Or cleaning the kayaks afterwards. So, we took advantage of the rain that had already washed them and bound them to the car’s rooftop.
Then, we thought of thanking the nuns at the monastery for letting us camp overnight, so we bought some Merlot made by them, together with the most delicious grapes (Muscat Ottonel) I’ve had lately. Off we went: Tulcea – Hârşova [the bridge toll is still 11 lei] – Slobozia. Or the road taken in September 2013. I admit that I was very happy to ride it again, but this time around, the orangish light of the clear sky sunset had been replaced by menacing clouds and nasty gusts. Sweetened by the watermelon and cantaloupe that we purchased en route.
Tip: During summer, this road is a better and less congested option for Constanţa-Bucharest motorway. And a very scenic one, too.
Last year, we had continued to Urziceni. This year, we had a change of heart and of plan and headed to Buzău instead. We then passed Cislău, Pătârlagele, Colţi to the right, and finally Nehoiu and Siriu Dam or the location to many fond yet excruciating memories of our whitewater kayak course. As we got closer to home and the clouds started to dissipate, I came to wonder… Would I have liked things to have remained the same as in June 2013? No! There were so many happy and a few sad moments that I had gone through since then and they all shaped my way of thinking and my personality, made me stronger, and enriched my life in so many ways! How could you say ‘no’ to change, when change is the best thing that could happen to you?