Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bicycle Path to Link Black Sea Coastal Cities in Bulgaria and Romania

Balkan Travellers

10 April 2008 | A bicycle path consistent with European standards will be built between the town of Shabla, on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, and the resort village of 2 Mai on Romania’s coast, Romanian media reported.

The 500,000-euro project, financed by Brussels, will begin in May. According to the Romanian daily newspaper Adevarul, its expected completion date is in November.

Both the Bulgarian and Romanian municipalities have received approval for the project and will organise a tender for the construction of the path shortly.

The town of Shabla is located on Bulgaria’s northernmost Black Sea coast, about 80 kilometres north of the major port city of Varna. The waters around the town boast many sunken ships that make it a popular destination for diving. In addition, the nearby Shabla Lake is a natural reserve, housing a diverse population of animal and plant species, while the area round Shabla’s lighthouse boast numerous warm, sulphur-rich mineral water springs.

The village of 2 Mai, though much smaller than Shabla, has become popular in recent years among Romanian tourists as a quiet and peaceful sea-side resort. Located between the port city of Mangalia and the village of Mama Veche, many of its inhabitants are the Lippovans, a minority that lives in the Dobrogea region of Romania.

The bicycle path project is the latest in a series of initiatives to build closer and stronger ties between the two states. Despite the fact that Bulgaria and Romania are neighbouring countries, the traffic levels over the Danube – which forms much of the nearly 500-kilometre border between them, were surprisingly low until a few years ago.

This is changing rapidly, as the scores of Romanians who head south for the holidays testifies.

In addition, local and national authorities are taking measures to increase cooperation and strengthen ties between the two states. As BalkanTravellers.com reported in January, the districts of Pleven in Bulgaria and Olt in Romania – along the border’s central portion, initiated a new project for cross-border cooperation for the development of alternative tourism.

Another much-anticipated development is the construction of a second bridge over the Danube between Vidin and Calafat in the western part of the border, which – as BalkanTravellers.com reported in March, has been in the works for the past two decades, but is scheduled to be completed by 2010.

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