All posts by Simon Bedford

The route through Fez

We were all tired and we wanted to find a hotel in fez quickly and have a relax. We had no idea what the city was going to be like and how easy it would be to find a hotel.

The place was a nightmare, traffic everywhere people and chaos , and we were lost.. A couple of lads on a motor bike pulled up by the car as we were driving through the city and wished us welcome, I thanked them and took the opertunity to ask if they knew of a hotel with parking. They took us to the worst place in the city to take a car, right in the middle of the madina , it was a nightmare with winding streets that were only wide enough for one car and thousands of people , we eventually got to the place they wanted us to be, it was anarchy and we did not think it an appropriate place to leave the cars. We wanted to get out of there and quickly, they offered us an alternative. We eventually got there , and although it was expensive it was worth it

The Riad

Inside the RiadInside the riad

Breakdown at 1200 meters

We had not expected the delays in cueta , we had not expected customs to take quite so longBorder crossing at Ceuta, so we were behind schedule getting into the journey, Just over the border into Morrocowe had been warned about the rif valley, don’t go there, definitely don’t go at night, don’t speak to any one there and don’t stop. I knew that over heating was the Achilles heal of my car, I had tried and failed to solve the problem before we left and although I had made some more changes, I was not confident that the problem of overheating would not come back.

We had been fighting overheating in the foot hills of the rif mountains since we had started to climb, the solution was to put the heater on flat out and disperse some of the engines heat through the car. We had the sun roof open and the windows apart from the drivers window which was not working. On the way up into the mountains, we realised the engine was too hot, we had to stop, we radioed ahead to the team and pulled over. The engine was well out of its comfort zone. On pulling the bonnet, I had grave concerns for it. The electric fan had not kicked in despite having had a new switch fitted and as most of the climbing was slow, it was essential that we got it working. With a bit of wiring and messing about, we had bypassed the thermostatic switch and the fan was running. We set off again in the hope that this may be a solution. We had gone around 400 meters when it was clear things were not good, we stopped again and investigated. The top hose was pouring out water, not good because we had no spare. Fixing the carIt seemed to be leaking around where it fits up to the thermostat housing. We removed the jubilee clip and then pushed the hose further on until it would go no further then we moved the jubilee clip as far along the hose as we could to try and contain the hole at the wrong side of the clip. We filled up the water and fired her up and all was well. No leaks, let’s get going, it later turned out that the mountain went on another 700 meters, we would not have made it to the top. The concern now is will the fan last ther trip.

When we broke down at the the first location, we pulled in outside the house of a local drugs Barron, Dealers minionshim and his co traders all came out to look at what we were doing, it was not an easy situation to be in, Jim was very nervous and we all wanted out, how ever there Was no trouble other than constant pestering to buy canabis resin. Dealer!They waved us a fond fair we’ll and we went on up the hill.

Lunch , pine Forrest’s and canabis
We drove on and on and the scenery was increasing spectacular,Rif mountains the car was going well and I had a better feeling about the trip, at about 1500 meters we started to drive through the most spectacular Forrest’s, the trees were almost as big as the redwoods at Leighton estate and they went on and on, just the shade we were looking for to make dinner.  We pulled up in an area that seemed free from canabis traders and was fairly level.  We had a well rehearsed routine at lunchtime, nick would cook the noodles, four packages and a small amount of water, Jim would boil the kettle for a brew and stir fried the veg and what ever else we had. We can be back on the road in ten unites at a push, I. Think we could beat macro olds for fast food and ours is prepped on site.

Any way our attempt for a peacfull lunch was soon quashed by the canabis traders, they all arrived in there Mercedes Benz saloons and preceded to sit on the gras to talk to us and prepare there offer. In the end there was only two that stayed. I had a pot of olives similar to the ones you can get at castle kitchen , very good, so I offer the two young chaps the olives and they gratefully accepted, we all chatted about our lives and they told us a little about their trade, it takes 100 canabis plants to make 500grams of resin, I have no idea what it costs on the street in the UK. The one who was the senior of the two pulled a piece out of his pocket and offered it to us, it smelled amazing,  I was carful not to touch it, the uk border police wipe down door handles on the cars then test the wipes for drugs. And we noticed that all our cars were marked on the way through possible when they knew we were going to morocco. Anyway time for some of Rebecca’s ( my daughters ) delicious fruitcake. Me and the ,farmer shared a piece ten he gave some to his fried and commented on how good it was. So Rebecca your cake must be good , Moroccan drug dealers can’t be wrong.

In truth, they were decent chaps not dissimilar to any farmers around montgomery, just a differ ant product range. After lunch were got back on the road, I enjoyed the company and the food.

On our way down from one of mountains, we were following a wagon full of large concrete drainage pipes. Nick and Andy had managed to get passed then Jim had a go, he got pased quite safely, we were next and we both believed we had spotted an opertunity, we made our move and had almost got past when a mercades taxi seemed to appear from nowhere heading straight for us, we were still on the wrong side of the road, there was no time to get over even though we were petty much passed the wagon, our only option was to head for the ditch on the Left hand side to avoid a major collision. We. Were in the worst place for an accident, we new it, the infrastructure is not there to sort us out or the car, and I fought if there is any law and order or ambulances in the riff valley, our hearts raced as we waited to see if the taxi driver would make the right move and also go on the wrong side of the road, that way we wouldn’t be hurt, he did, but we still had n o choice but to go off piste , it appears that the highways agency, conscious of the fact that ten time more road fatalities in Morocco than the worst European county, seem to leave generous run off area in many places along the way, it was our lucky day, this bend had a run off that allowed is to get into with low risk to the car. We drove out of the other side not feeling very good about or selve and hearts racing, won’t forget that one in a hurry.

Two years ago I was fortunate. Enough to be able to do a road trip to the arctic circle and we came down through Norway on our way back. I have since said that Norway is the most beautiful place I have ever been, until now. The riff mountains and valleys are almost intensely buetiful  the shear scale of them is awe inspiring, the winding roads that we drove over, seemed to go on forever and around each bend another spectacular view. The pie Forrest’s near the top are like nothing I have ever seen, and provide a refreshing shade to have lunch under, the cliffs and rock formations  begged belief. I loved driving through the riff valley and mountains and I would do it again despite recommendations otherwise.  I had written all this text once then my tablet died and I am now doing it all again but my excitement for the area is un diminished.

Never drive through the riff valley at night, that was the next recommendation to break. The nearer the top of t he mountains we were the rougher the towns and villages became then when at the very top at around 1600m we drove trough a town that my simply knowledge of English can not adequately describe. You will have to look at the video when it goes live, it was like a scene from mad max croxssed with a refugee camp crossed with a town that law and order forgot. We locked our doors and drove through hoping not to break down. That is why not to drive through here at night and it was nearly dark and we had far to go befor we sleep.

This has been the most extraordinary day of my life, I have been terrified, stressed, elated filled with amusement and relaxed, I have had my hart strings pulled by destitute children and starving donkeys an I have. Been delighted by the ordinary people we have met. I will never forget this day and I think my fellow travelers will feels the same way, but the day had two note worthy event to through at us.

Day 4 Goodbye Europe

Gibralter from the ferryWe were up and about at 7 am and in the cars by 7:30 on our way to the ferry terminal, had a good nights sleep, Africa awaits. We were soon in the queue for the ferry and wating to board with about 20 mins to spare. The terminal was full off people with landrovers and big 4wheel drive toyotas with all sorts of parafinalia for crossing rough ground and going through rivers,  I began to think we were perhaps a bit underprepared. I went over to talk to one group, I asked where they were going and the said central morocco, they said that there was no way they would be gong to Daklah, may be this will be a bit more of a challenge than we thought!
I took the opertunity to move the back tyres, which are both winder and slightly bigger diameter to the front and the front ones to the back. This will better in the sand and improve engine cooling as the engine will run slower.

The ferry is very comfortable with really nice seats to sleep (or blog) in, not many people on board. I am not looking forward to dealing with the paperwork at the other side, I guess it will take a couple of hours

We are coming into port now, I am both nervous and excited.
Simon

Day three close

It’s difficult looking round a strange town for some where to stay, in fact quite frustrating, and this tow was not the easiest on the eye. we drove in the direction of Gibraltar hoping for an excuse to go there and got lost on the way, this seemed to take some time and I was about to give up when we took another wrong turn at a round about, we ended up i a car park right out side a notable seedy hostel in what was later to become clever, a notably seedy area. I went in a negotiated a price of 25 euros per room, about £10 per person. The rooms were ok. There was wifi and each room had a bathroom. All boxes ticked. But, you get what you pay for, Jim had to fix his bed and the door fell off the wardrobe. The shower screen in our room had a third missing, and the water was cold din the morning . It was fine, we are six bloke on a road trip, we only need somewhere to lay our heads.

Day One

Day one in the wagon continues. We left Telford at 12:30 this afternoon, not quite clear why we were so long getting diesel but half an hour went befor we got on the road south. Dispute best intentions to stick together , my suggestion to continue along the m6 and go down the m1 seemed to get lost in translation over the radio.  Nick and marks waved as we parted company on the junction with the M42.  There was nothing I could do but let them know I would meet back up with them in ash ford where we were due to pick up Andy, the sixth person in the group.  Driving a car that I am 100% confident in but none the less is quite old, it is reassuring to have a couple of friends in other cRs as a back up plan in case of a breakdown. 8 was on my own with 200 miles to go before we met up angain, the radios would only last for about 5 miles then it would be mobile phone comms only. Jim and Tom had followed nick and mark.

I amused my self for the following 4 hours by listeding to the drone of the engin and trying to gues what all the different smells were that waft through the cabin.

I arrived in ashford to meet with the crew about a minute before they did, Sally had assured me that there was over an hours delay on the m42. She was wrong I I will never forgiver her I threatens to change her voice for a mans voice.

On the trainWe quickly greater Andy and set off to the euro tunnel station, we had a good idea that we had missed our train. When we arrived we we’re put on the next one, it is a very slick operation and once on the train we were getting off again in about 20 mins and we were in France, Jim and nick could put a new flag on there car. We were soon burning up the tarmack in France and making our wy to the hotel which was 340 milesfrom Calais .
So far we have stopped twice, the first time for a comfort break, hands up who likes that phrase!

SponsorsWhen we pulled up a French truck driver came over to us and asked if he could buy our trousers, he had left how with out any and wanted ours, we had to decline his request and moved on. In hindsight, I should have given him my TI Automotice branded shirt, I had intended throwing it in the bin as it is past it’s best and tha wonderful girls in HR had recently given me some new ones. Thanks Joan and Julie.
We have stopped for fuel and to change Jim’s radio, now we are back on the road, Mark is driving and we have 172 mile to the hotel and it’s  twenty to eleven.

Preparation and build up

We have less than four weeks until we leave on our epic journey. We had a meeting yesterday to discuss plans and things are coming together. We have some concerns about insurance, most insurance firms don’t seem to offer cover for Morocco and we believe we have to get cover when we arrive. The problem with this is that it may take us a while on a busy schedule to make arrangements.

We have largely sorted out the route, we will head for Fez once in Morocco and skirt around the west of Marrakech before heading for the coast just above the border with Western Sahara. We then head south to Dakhla before we turn around and head for Marrakech. We then spend two full days in Marrakech before we head for Casablanca and then north to the ferry back to Europe. We think around 6500 miles.

The cars are having some work done in preparation, I have fitted new headlamp bulbs, the old ones were less than useless. I have had new suspension on the front and I have been sorting out all the fiddly
little jobs that I do not normally bother with. The two remaining important ones are the overheating issue needs to be sorted and it would be nice to be able to open the window when driving. I have a plan to get this done with fellow adventurer Jim.

Having done a couple of trips now, I have a fairly good idea what I need to take and what is just baggage, when driving a long way in an old car, weight is critical, the more the car weighs, the more fuel it will use and the harder it has to work, therefor the more likely it is to break down. So we will be living on a diet of marshmallows and cheese soufflé for 16 days.

I am developing my kitchenette; I am fitting lights above the stove and a drawer under the stove for cutlery. This is going to be pretty much as good as the kitchen in Michele Roux’s restaurant. I also have a small fridge which I may take to keep some of the more temperature sensitive consumables cool, i.e. beer.

Nick has had a few jobs done on his car, which will be 20 years old this year, Jim is hoping to have completed enough mileage to be able to take his for its first service before we go. Jims car is pretty much brand new and has something of a novelty paint job, all the panels are the same colour, I am not sure if it really works!

Nick has left the red floral arrangement on his car, I think he is hoping it will offer some level of camouflage, I need to remind Nick that we are not visiting the Dutch tulip fields on this trip.

What ever the colour of the cars, all three of them will soon be heading south, and, I for one, am pretty excited about it.

The Belgium proposition

As is the tradition, we decided to go out for something to eat and a few pints, especially as it was our last night. The culinary offering in Belgium is similar to that of France,  Vegitarians can have an omlete or salad, me being a veggy, as expected, catering for me was an issues. We eventually found a small reseraunt with a loose south American style which had something to offer. Nick had a meat product and I had a veg pie. Very good, we both enjoyed our meal.  After our meal we went to a small bar populated by north Africans, they were very friendly and we had a good chat with them and as we left thought it was time for bed. But we spotted one more bar and thought we would drop in for one last drink….

It had a strange dynamic, a white  chap at the bar with a black girl, they were sat together but there body language suggested some thing odd. There were two other couples and a short drunk guy causing a nuisance of him self and a well dressed chap later found out he was called patrick, who seemed to know every one yet they all seemed that they had not been in the bar before. We had some discussion’s on this situation and decided that the girls were hookers and the well dressed guy or the land lord was the pimp and the short guy was some sort of assistant.

The two chaps and two girls got up and left and exchanged greeting with Patrick. The drunk bloke came over to me and started to say something in foreign, and started to get physical, Fortunately although I had had a few drinks, I was not as drunk as him and fairly quickly dispatched him  into the arms of his colleagues. They ushered him out of the door and came back to apologies for his behaviour, No big shakes we said, he was drunk and no one was hurt. Patrick told us his name and bought us a drink. He had had a few drinks but was not drunk but spoke fairly good English. We chatted for a while and he quickly establish what we were doing and what our jobs were (not police) He then started to tell us about the services he offered, Narcotics were one of his main sources of income, and I would assume from this that the short drunk guy was his runner. He showed us his cloths to demonstrate how well he had done out of his trade. We were having a friendly chat and we laughed about meeting a drugs dealer. Patrick disappeared to do something and we discussed that the bar man looked a bit handy  and we should probably avoid him if the drunk guy kicked off again, he had come back. The bar man later proved to not be of any threat and was working hand in glove with Patrick. An Asian man with his young son came in and handed a large pack of cigarettes over the bar nd the land lord immediately withdrew some euros from the till and paid the man, now words were exchanged.  Very shady,

Patrick came back over to talk to us again,  and started to tell us more of his dealings and I assume look for a sale.  He told us of the requirement of people to seek pleasure and he was a one stop shop, he told us that the three girls were hookers and he was as assumed was the pimp. We were amused by this and thought we might as well learn what we could while we had our drinks. Patrick read from us that we were not offended by his trade and not shocked but more surprised by the ease in which he volunteered the details of his trade.  He seemed to signal the bar man who made a phone call and them within about 5 minutes a girl appeared on Patricks arm and he clearly wanted to offer her services to us. I felt sorry for her, she knew as soon as she saw us that we were not even remotely interested in anything he had in mind. We exchanged polite conversation but did nothing to perpetuate any assumption that we were remotely interested in the services on offer.  This was a strange and amusing experience, we had something to tell the folks back home and we would probably laugh about for years to come, Ah the joys of travel. After finishing our drinks, we said our good bys and I made a point to apologies for the embarrassment caused and to reassure her that we felt no offence by it. Back to the relative sanity of the youth hostel

I really struggle with the water

I really struggle with the water when I go away, every day I have got up with a head ache since we set out,

This morning we left Germany and head for the Nurburgring, about 450 miles. We were both pretty tired but given we were driving such a high performance car, it ate up the miles on the smooth German motorways. We managed to get the old girl up to 100 MPH before I backed off safe in the knowledge that there was plenty more where that came from.  It was a featureless drive to ‘the ring’ is us racing car drivers call it, once we were within about 20 miles we went off the motorway and the countryside was really good, loads of Big wind turbines, Ace, I love them.

We arrived at the ring at around 4:40 had a bit of a drive around the periphery while we established where to go then we spotted a visitor center, we parked up and wandered in, the chap told us to drive down the road and buy a ticket, then go round the circuit. It sounded all together too easy. So we drove to where he said, I bought a ticket and we drove onto the circuit, No training, No safety lecture, not checks to the car, no check of our driving licence, nothing.  So we drove on to the circuit, our 26 euro pass for one lap in hand. The gate opened and we were off, plodding towards the first corner. It was not clear where the circuit started, so I just started to go a bit faster and it became apparent we were on it. Now I know you all know my car is a fast high performance racing car in the guise of a hatchback / campervan combo, but I was surprised to learn, which a did very quickly, that there are even faster cars out there. Given our relative lack of experience, we decided to let some of the other cars pass and focused more on the lovely scenery through the forest area of the course. After the first few KMs we felt confident enough to go a bit faster. There are some corners that aer banked and you can drive them really fast, its great fun, I was surprised how hilly the circuit was and it was quite demanding on brakes on the down hill sections. We both enjoyed it and almost managed to touch 100mph which converts to 450KPH in the local currency of speed. We drove off the circuit and went to the local garage to buy a sticker. We had driven the nurburgring, with out doubt the most challenging race circuit in the world if not the universe and had done it in an impressive time of 18 minutes, the fasted time ever recorded. We felt pretty proud of our selves and started to plan the night entertainment in celibration of our success.

Helpful Slovenian duty free girls – Friday 5th

Friday in the hotel and I feel quite hungry, I think a full veggie breakfast is the order of the day to fortify us for what might be a five country day. However I am sure I am about to be disappointed. The waiter in the restaurant offered us eggs, they cannot do toast but we can have bread, and a cup of coffee, and that was pretty much what I got. An omelette a very Small pot of coffee and a big mug, as used to hold a big cup of coffee, and some bread rolls, oh and a glass of apple juice. I don’t think it could have got any more basic. We  Didn’t think it was worth asking to have our cups filled with hot water. However in there defence, for the money, it was a surprise to have any breakfast included. We had enjoyed Nis but in the word of Fu Man Chew, the time has come for us to leave.

 

I love motorways, especially featureless ones that pass through endless countries only to be Punctuated by fat miserable customs people who hate us for no apparent reason. We went Through five check points today, the usual checks to vie pass ports, examine the contents of our back seat and discus safety issues relating to having explosive gas cylinders in the boot. All of them miserable except the check point as we left Croatia. The rest of them Have done my PTSD no favours following a scene on the Hungarian border some years ago. Hers a good tip, when driving in Slovenia and Austria always buy a vignette, this is a Transit pas and if you don’t have one and you get caught, it is going to sting, fortunately, us being lucky bastards, we drove all the way through Slovenia without one and didn’t get Caught, but thought the better of taking the risk in Austria and stopped by to see some most beautiful girls in the duty free shop in Slovenia to buy one. In passing I mentioned the vignette for Slovenia and told her that I didn’t have one, She said we had been very lucky because there are big fines for people who don’t have one, she told me that if I went up the stair and looked out of the window towards the Austrian border, if there was a white van waiting on the road, then they would pull us over and fine us, I went up the stairs and sure enough, there they were. A Slovenian vignette was dully purchased and I thanked the Girls for their help, if you are reading this, thanks again. you saved us a lot of money.

 

This is a five county day, we left Serbia, went through Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and Germany is where will hope to spend the night. On the way, the high point has to be the Arnold Swarzenegger Museum, although it was closed when we got there, we had a look at the Statue outside. Had a few photos and now as I write, we are 80 miles from Bertchersgarten which is a small town below the eagles nest, Hitler’s castle. That will also be closed but we knew that, it is out of season. We have booked into a youth hostel there and have to be there before ten, we can’t afford to miss this as we will have nowhere to stay. Tomorrow we head for the nurburgring and hope to get a lap in before it closes at 8pm

 

At the croation border, the guard, as is traditional, asked us where we had been, He was the best of the bad bunch, he had to intrust us as we started to reel off 15 European Countries, he sent us on our way. We have a routine at the border crossings to ensure everything runs smoothly, we have both passports, car reg doc, MOT , Insurance green Card, driving licence for the current driver.  We dismount the forward facing camera and generally make the car look a bit tidier to avoid questions, we only ever tell them the next country we aim to visit to avid questions, and Usually just give them on or two of the previous ones, this way they don’t ask to many questions.

 

Now in an Italian restaurant in Berchtsgarten, we have found the youth hostel and we are going back there as soon as we have had something to eat. Its a great place with a really friendly lady looking after it, there arnt many people there, cost 60 euros per night.

 

The reason we have not been keeping the web site up to date is down to a bit of tec that we bought to keep us on line while mobile, it worked fine until the 1st of April when we were supposed to fit a new sim which didnt arrive at home to we had left, not a lot of good there. Its really annoying as we were both looking forward to blogging every day. I am sorry readers if we have let you down, The people at tep will be recieving my wroth as soon as we get back.

Me and Nick will be having a few beers tonight and then later will will be having a snorring competition, we expect the other guests in the hostel to be the judge but we home to be out on the road before they announce the winner, I have a feeling who that might be.

An observation of Austria, comparatively, all cars are almost new, but given my view point, almost all cars except museum pieces are newer than mine. I am looking forward to getting a notably slow time around the nurburgring tomorrow, just as proof positive i drive a crap car. However you look at it, this car has been the catalyst for travel, John O Groats, the Arctic circle and now asia, it has been a creator of adventure and over all that time and Mileage, it is still worthless, or should I say priceless.

Thursday 4th

Thursday night club will be in Serbia

This morning saw the end of our stay in Istabul, i was torn between a rock and a hard place, part of me wanted to stay in istanbull and tick off few more tourist sights with Elaine, part of me wanted to get back on the road, there was only ever going to be 0ne winner to that discusion, we had to set off for home, 2500 miles of tarmac  (excluding pot holes) lies ahead of us. It feels very remote when we finally broke the city limits and looked at the distance we have to travel to get home, and even the distance we have to travel to get back to a country where we have fully comprehensive insurance and breakdown cover. We had to get on with it, so at 8:30 we gave a sad fairwell to our wives and to Istanbul. We had traveresed a continent in a car that most people would think twice about driving across Montgomeryshire in. We had hit our Target of getting into Asia and now all we had to do was get home to complete the project.

After paying the man in the underground car park his 51 Turkish lira we headed off out of istanbul, although the traffic was fairly quiet at that time in the morning, it still was somthing of a challenge to get out of town without impact with a taxi. We headed off west with our sights on Serbia and a town called Nis. We had booked a twin room in the ambasador hotel for tonight, with a cost of £29 we were pretty pleased with ourselves, however we havent seen it yet, As i write this we are on the outskirts of Sofia on our way out.
 The drive to Bulgaria from Istnabul was faily uneventntful, a motorway all the way to the border, we saw some dogs, there are dogs everywhere in eastern europe, wandering around not really causing any problems, I wonder what they are thinking of as they sit motionless on the side of the road just gazing into space,

The border crossing was an endless stop start affair, first you have to leave Turkey and that invloved three check points, the first pass port control, they check your pass port, the second is customs, they check your pass port and the thrid is police check where they check you driving related documents, green card, vehicle registration documents, drivers licence and then they check your pass port. We stopped in no mans land to go to the loo and look if there was a shop selling maps, no maps, only duty free in a very smart shopping mall that is very unlike the surounding,  As we moved on we had to go through what turned out to be disinfection area, the car was sprayed with some fluid above and below, later we were charged 3 euros for it. I think it was really a donation to the customs officers christmas party, as far is disinfecting the car was concerned it was about as effective as spraying one the turkish dead dogs from the side of the road with Domestos and calling it safe to eat. Any way i think they felt it was benificial.
We moved on to the Bulgarian side of the customs, same routine but this time we did get a laugh out of one of the officialls when i had to show him our stove contraption on the parcel shelf, come to think of it, it made me laugh to, what possesed me to think of putting a gas stove onto a parcel shelf, buy Hey, it works and should keep us fed as far as Monty if the gas doesnt run out. After the third stop we had to pull over to get a transit vinyette, this is a sort of licence to allow us to drive through Bulgaria. cost around 6 euro, i had to pay in cash and in local currency, so i had to first get a 20 euro note changed and then hand of the bulgarian currnecy for the vinyette. job done we were finaly on our way. Probably held us up 3/4 of an hour. no big shakes, this was always going to be a short day.

The roads were significanly poorer in Bulgaria but we could still maintain a reasonable speed once we got onto the motorway again. We discussed a route change with sally to allow us to get off the main road and into the sticks so we could find a place to cook dinner. discusions lasted around 100 miles before we finaly came on a place that might fit the bill. We dropped of the motorway to the right and then under a bridge and off into the hills. This is the sort of diversion that gives a really good insite into a country. The motorways are quite well presented even in the financially streched coutries, get into the sticks and see how people really live. It was the litter that struck us first, similar to albania, i guess there is no disposal system. as we followed a van he opened his door and deposited the detritus from his lunch onto the road, a pop bottle and some sandwhich wrappers, We were disgusted but not in a position to challenge him.
We drove through the hills till we found a place to stop by a lake, Very nice place, we had noodles and veg, with a brew and a bit of Bananna bread for pudding, Fortiifed.
We continued along the side of the lake much to sallies discontent, the roads were poor, in the fields were people using horses and donkeys as motive forces, there were many buildings that looked almost bombed out but i dont recall any trouble over here. the countryside is beautiful, as good as Wales in many ways but the liter is a real problem.

Some miles later we arrived in Sofia, the main road runs straight through it. Once you get near the center it is quite beautiful , probably worth a second look. the building are large stone built similar to some areas of London, the road system seems quite developed, they have trams , probably left over from the soviet days, and what seems like a good public transport system. people seem to be busy and the driving techniques are on a par with any developed euopean center. I was quite looking forward to the anarchy of Tirana, no such luck.

 
We are now in no mans land betweeen Bulgaria and Serbia, probably about an hour from our destination, The BG customs just waved us through, no big shakes, we dont have anything to hide and given the number of stamps in our passport, we would have already been pulled up by one of the previous coutries if we were up to no good. Deisel in BG was expesive, about £1.55 a litre

Now in Serbia and Sally has taken it upon her self to do one of her shortcuts through the hills, it is quite spectacular, some great view at the tops of the mountains before we decend into Nis. the cops followed us for a few miles after the border but we switched on the cloaking device and they soon turned around and left us alone.
The roads are bendy and it is difficule to write so any mistake i have made in spelling or grammer are down to road conditions and in no way reflect my ability as a blogger, also that count for the last few bloggs i have done, in fact it count for everything i have ever written, all mistakes are due to serbian road condition. Once we are in autrail my typing will be perfect from that day forward.
Sebia is nicer than the Bulg. less litter, beter land scapes less dogs. there is a lot of construction going on but the housing stock is very poor in some area, I would think the land is very fertile, It is a good country to drive through,
More tomorrow on this as we approach Western Europe.
Its now Friaday morning and we are both a bit hung over after having a few drinks in Nis. We found the hotel easily and parked the car, using co-ordinates to find the hotel location is much easier than an address. The hotek is basic but more than adequate for our needs. The girl on reception was really friendly and gave us good advise on where to eat. We had some food in a bor not far from the hotel on a street that had about 5 bars. We decided it would probably be a record if we as brits drank in all five of them. We did and this morning i am paying for it. Beer and food are cheep here but i cant remember how much, i think around 250 gubbins per pint.
the highlight of the nigh was the last bar which was dedicated to Nicole Tesla, the inventer of AC electricity and whos birthplace we hade tried to visit a few days ago inbetween Julias house and Dubrovnic. the wall was liines with photos of him and detailed drawings of his inventions. We had some fun and the subject of another road trip came up.