In Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point on the European continent, Joaquim, a former navy captain inspired us to create our own journey.
It was a super early morning, but the prize was worth it: a ride on a hot air balloon! Having just crossed over from Serbia, Kenneth and Susann enjoyed their first views of Bulgaria and Romania from up high. Pointing out the sights – and one in particular, the 2 km-long New Europe Bridge – was Sabrina Kalachova from the local Europe Direct.
Sabrina coordinates cross-border projects and is based in the port town of Vidin, Bulgaria, which sits on the southern bank of the Danube. Facing it on the opposite bank is the town of Calafat in Romania.
For 470 kilometres, the Danube forms the border between Romania and Bulgaria. But for centuries, until the Giurgiu–Ruse Bridge was built in 1954, no bridge connected the two. Between Vidin and Calafat there was a ferry, but it wouldn’t start until fully loaded with trucks, Sabrina explained. During dry summers it would get stuck at the ramp, and during cold winters the Danube could freeze over completely. So people travelling from Bulgaria towards Central and Western Europe would either have to wait or cross at the other bridge, 307 km downstream…
It was only when Romania and Bulgaria were in the process of joining the EU that loans and other funding were found to make the locals’ dream come true and build a bridge to connect Calafat and Vidin – and to speed up international traffic.
After their balloon ride, Susann and Kenneth decided to take to the river on a kayak to see the bridge from up close! But, as you will discover watching their video, they somehow got stuck.