You may have noticed that the end of Nathan's last blog was a little hurried, short and somewhat confusing. That is because we were in our tent writing awe-inspiringly articulate blogs when we were rudely cut short.
Sunday night we found camping on the canal was extremely difficult, given a road on either side of the water and flat open land with nowhere to hide. We set up the tent in a pretty exposed spot and ripped branches from the bush we were against, padding them around us to try and hide our shape in the dark. As we blogged by torchlight, it was not long before we heard someone rustling around our stuff and hopped out of the tent to meet two Romanians. A man spoke to us and made lots of confusing gestures. He pointed to the woods on the other side of the train track, he pushed his fist against his head lots, he pointed at the tent, he pointed and grabbed at my sleeping bag. The only clear communication between us and him was that it was fine (solid thumbs up) for us to sleep there, but there were clearly other concerns. Eventually he left, after whispering loudly to a third person hidden in the field then all walking off, over the train tracks.
So Sunday night we didn't sleep that great and our restlessness wasn't helped by the rail line 50ft away. In the morning we were met by some canal security who were happy to see us, excited by our canoe and wondered where we were going. As they left one man pointed to the woods in a concerned manner and showed us how he had his gun is his hand, gesturing that he was safe there only because he had his gun.
What a happy camp spot hey?
I removed my head torch and we paddled off in the rising sun, just as we have each morning for the past few weeks. We had 42kms to the Black Sea, all of which was on the notorious Canal of Death, named such because of the incredible number of people who died in its build. The signs of rushed manufacturing in conditions of forced labour were not easy to miss; it was 42kms of grim scenery, crumbly concrete and eerie silence.
By 3:30 we were nearing its end and at the end of a long straight lay the large lock that acted as a gateway into the sea. At the lock we were, inevitably, met by security who pried into our papers and phoned in our passports. Though one policeman was keen to try and find some small detail to trouble us, we had hauled our canoe and bags onto a tanker and then up the canal wall and, since we were no longer on the canal there couldn't really be any problems. We weren't allowed in the lock, we weren't allowed in the canal, we weren't allowed in the port, but we were allowed to walk into the town and that was what we intended to do. After a while he had to accept this fact and gave us back our documents and passports. Then we put the wheels on our canoe and walked into Agigea.
In Agigea we stored our canoe in the garage of someone from couchsurfing.org who is currently out of town. Then 50 meters down the road we found a cheap motel where we're now staying and today we got the bus(es) into Constanta. After lunch next to the sea and maps bought and annotated for the coastline to Istanbul, we knuckles down to the planning mission of getting our canoe somehow out onto the Black Sea... You'll have to wait to see how that goes!
In amongst it all, dangerous camp spot, eerie canal of death, confusing buses and beers in a motel, we have made it here to the coast. We've paddled a plethora of European waterways and we have crossed Europe by canoe from the Atlantic to the Black Sea. We have traversed the continent via the most comprehensive canoe route ever. That incredible fact is yet to take any huge significance for me and has perhaps not yet sunk in, but I'm sure when we first dip our paddles into saltwater tomorrow it will feel pretty incredible. And there we start our final chapter, following the coast. bound for Istanbul.