12 June 2017
- Fundraising

London To Bucharest Cycle Ride

Setting off at the end of April, Alex Alexandrescu and Silviu Chirila decided to set themselves a challenge: a cycle trip from London to Bucharest in aid of the FARA Foundation.

The pair, who have known each other since high school, decided to take on the challenge in May 2016, spending a year fundraising, training, and planning their incredible 3000km route. After growing up in Bucharest, both attended university in the UK- hence their chosen route from London to their home of Romania. Their fundraising page states that in the face of changing “public sentiment regarding open borders and free movement”, they knew this could be one of their last chances to tackle the adventure.

Wanting to make this journey meaningful for others too, they decided to team up with us at FARA, asking friends, family and supporters of the charity to sponsor their cycle ride. Alex and Silviu wanted to support a charity that operated in Romania, and FARA was their first choice. Recognising the importance of education as a “prerequisite to unity and agreement across Europe”, they felt the work of FARA in both education and social support in Romania aligned perfectly with their views. Their initial aim was to raise £1500, smashing that target by the end of their trip to raise over £2600. Along their journey to Bucharest the pair aimed to meet as many people as possible, updating their friends, family and donors of their adventures through their Facebook page.

Getting off to a bumpy start cycling from the Houses of Parliament to Dover, the pair crossed the channel by ferry and cycled up through Belgium to Bruges; “Belgium is at a totally different level in terms of cycling to anything we’ve seen so far. Dedicated cycle lanes, cycle roads next to all canals, and considerate drivers”. They didn’t have much time to enjoy the wide range of beers on offer in Bruges, however, as the following day they planned to cycle the huge 150km to Rotterdam. After another day of beautiful villages, picturesque windmills and friendly passers-by, the pair arrived in Rotterdam and stayed with friends overnight.

After leaving the Netherlands, Alex and Silviu spent the next ten days cycling through Germany, sightseeing in Cologne, Bonn and Frankfurt along the way. The pair highly recommend the route between Bonn and Rudesheimer, the most scenic part of their journey, to any fellow cyclists. Videoing the journey on their Go Pro, the pair continued to update their followers with videos as they entered Austria and followed the Danube through Slovakia to Budapest, before starting the final 900 kilometres to Bucharest.

As the pair crossed the Romanian border in the final third of their journey, children from FARA’s family style homes continued to send video messages of support. Using a scratch map donated by Mindblower.ro the kids excitedly followed the fundraisers’ route across Europe, scratching away a new country each time the pair crossed a border on their journey. The video messages, full of joy and anticipation, powered the cyclists along their route, providing a taster of the warm welcome they were to receive from the FARA family upon arrival in Bucharest.

The day before their arrival, the kids got to work creating banners and posters to welcome their “heroes” in front of the Romanian Palace of Parliament. As Alex and Silviu cycled the final kilometres into Bucharest the sun made a welcome appearance, arriving in the Constitutiei Square with a huge welcome from friends, family and of course the children with their colourful banners. After a welcome rest, the pair gave an interview to Radio Romania about their amazing journey before visiting the excited children at FARA St. Gabriel. The cyclists were presented with the scratch maps used by the children to trace their route, and they showed the kids the bicycles that had got them across Europe.

Alex and Silviu’s journey from the British Parliament to the doors of the Romanian Palace of Parliament not only raised thousands of pounds for the FARA Foundation but symbolised the link between the FARA organisation in London and its work in Bucharest and across the rest of Romania.

Blog written by - George Waddell - FARA Marketing Intern

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