Hello from Istanbul.
We’ve spent the last few days on the road. Now in country number 12 with 2,500 miles under our belt.
We left Brett in Bratislava on Tuesday (he should be home now) and then hit the road for Hungary. The roads were good to almost the Romanian border where they deteriorated badly. We crossed into Romania and made 15mph for almost an hour. They eventually improved enough to feel like we were moving. It eventually got dark and the road started to climb through the Transylvanian mountains. On one steep incline the car stalled, and it took a minute of sweaty panic to get it going again. We gave up for the night and had a few hours sleep in the car before pushing on to Bucharest where we got totally lost.
We eventually arrived at the Bulgarian Border with about a dozen trucks blocking the road. As there were no other cars around we skipped the queue by driving up the wrong side of the road.
The chap in the first window wanted a $20 exit fee, which appeared quite legitimate, so we paid up. At window number 2 it turned out we should have had a Vignette (like a tax disk for driving on the motorways) which we should have got on the way in and didn’t – he wanted to fine us $180, we just acted a bit dumb (easy) and held up the queue for a while – we eventually paid $30 just to get going again. At the next window they wanted 6 Euro and 45 Romanian LEI for crossing the bridge into Bulgaria, which we had none of. They reluctantly accepted dollars and we crossed no-mans-land to Bulgaria … and window number 4, where we were told we needed a Green Card. So off to window #5 for a $12 Green Card and then back to window 4 for our stamped passports before heading off … to window #6 where we had to buy a £5 Vignette (wont make that mistake again) and then window 7 for a $3 disinfection 😯
We thought Bulgaria would be short and sweet, but the roads had other ideas, the kilometres were slow in passing and before long it was getting dark. We wound our way up a steep mountain road for about 45 mins, only to come down the other side which was covered in potholes – this took even longer. We eventually found a truckers stop and called it a night.
We made Turkey the next day. The border was a lot easier and we were in Istanbul before lunch time. We almost gave up on Istanbul, as we drove round and round for hours trying to find somewhere central to stay – the traffic is mad. We eventually found a hotel as we were looking for the road out.
Anyway, must go, pushing on towards Ankara today.