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.