Right, where were we. Set off for Transylvania after Budapest. We got as far as the other side of the Romanian border and we all immediately decided that this is where the hard work begins.
Roughed it in some farmers field, what with the word ‘campsite’ being still very much foreign for at least another few hundred miles. Makeshift BBQs off a grill and beer cans are fantastic, waking up early to the now infamous call of ‘There’s the farmer!’- we successfully evaded him, his stick and his army (not herd) of goats, which had a taste for English meat.
So yeah, then we celebrated my Birthday. Bombed it down to a town called Brasov where we set up camp in the hills overlooking it. Awesome scenery, but we soon forgot about it after the most biased set of drinking games I’ve ever played. So I passed out, as one does, so couldn’t actually tell you how the night ended. Apologies.
Day after and a hungover (but sober! Mum) drive into Transylvania and to Dracula’s castle -probably the least scary place we’ve been so far. Which isn’t saying a lot after a few of the hostels but still, big anticlimax.
So we whacked Jimmy (yes, we’ve named it with probably the most literal name we could have) into 5th gear and were soon on our way to the Transfagarasan Highway: Really, REALLY ‘high’ way. Driving into clouds is a great way to wake up, especially when there’s a 1,000 metre vertical drop to your right with minimal and infrequent barriers (all of which with scars of previous pickles) and you can’t see cars in front until they are about 10 metres away! Still, so so worth it when we broke through to the other side.
For those of you that know the route, yes it’s ‘That road from Top Gear’, when their team drove to Romania. Fairly sure Clarkson had a Lambo, but we were going with the tortoise and hare approach -only fair on the rest of the Mongol Rally drivers. Miles and miles of undulating twists hugging the valley walls with some of the best views I’ve ever seen: truly incredible (photos to come but you really did have to be there).
Got to the bottom and floored it (at 55) to Bucharest. Got in at midnight (half-decent road signs would have helped). I called it a day, while Rob and Paul hit the town as they really do like to party (plus Paul got shat on in one of the bars: second to falling off a chair, that’s the funniest thing any friend can experience). Once again we lost our collective fight with the mozzies, think it’s about 8-0 to them at the moment.
Back on the road and into Bulgaria. Starting to get sweltering, to the point we wish our car wasn’t black. Would contemplate putting the soft top down had we not lost our sun cream and were in a country where we were 100% sure of their views on homosexuality. Turns out Bulgaria is a lot of nothing; from what we saw, anyway. That was until we hit the Costa Del Sol of the Black Sea, and naturally decided to wait till gone midnight and camp on the beach, outside a beach club whose music stays on all night. That was after trying a more secluded building site but getting chased off by guard dogs, forgot to add that. Turns out they’re really fast! And flip flops really aren’t great for sprinting across loose rubble! Shocker. So our beach experience went quite well. Our BBQ was halted just as the kebabs went on due to ‘Problem’ (Eastern European for ‘I don’t like you’). Sure, the bull horns on the bonnet get us in trouble, but even us English folk need to eat…pretty much everyday!). Trouble over, grabbed a good 4 hours sleep, maybe.
Sun again has a tendency to wake you up whenever it pleases (around 6am) so it’s ‘up and at ‘em’ and off towards our current location, the fantastic Istanbul. Roads were really bad – long, winding and (when driving a fully- laden Jimmy the mother of all road issues) uphill – then really good, as soon as we entered the country: Strange.
Stopped for a petrol station kebab (you can’t write it) then finally got into Istanbul at around 4.30. I say in, we got in, then got stuck, then turned around and missed 3 turnings and found ourselves outside the city again; then went in again but had to go over the river and back because of the one-way system, then missed the turning so did that all again and got to our hostel. Hit the city, did what the Romans do then…well, that’s pretty much where we are right now. So…watch this space people. Hope England’s terrible.
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