14. Apr, 2016

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SUNDAY 19-4-15

Today started well and then it was downhill all the way. We had a lovely hot shower and a change of clothes before dumping our loo cassette in the gents and the grey (sink & shower) water down a nearby drain.

Back on the road again heading pretty much across country from the E75 to Sofia where we'd pick up the E80 towards the Turkish border. The Serbian section of the trip was an eye-opener. This was peasant country, dirt poor farmers and population, where if you own a donkey and cart you are considered a flash git. There were single track roads full of twists and turns with a lumpy bumpy surface. Strangely, we were seeing concrete structures either side of the road which were clearly the beginnings of a motorway and interchanges which would pass through here, though I don't see the point of having interchanges constructed here, as there's nothing to get off the motorway for. There's no tourist industry, certainly no restaurants, and even if they opened some, they would have to be Burger King or something because even Loyd Grossman would struggle to create a sauce to make what these people must eat taste appetising, and if the authorities don't allow horse and carts on the motorway then the locals will have nothing to get on to it with anyway, so I don't see what's in it for them.

I've no idea who's paying for it but I but the British taxpayer features in it somewhere.

We crossed in to Bulgaria with a lot of hassle, questions and searches. With the attitude they adopt its little wonder their tourist industry is not big - and the roads! I thought Serbia was bad but Bulgaria takes the prize for worst road surfaces. I spent all my time swerving around on single file roads trying to miss the potholes, then when we reached the motorway there were deep ruts in the nearside lane caused by the HGV's which I had to try and avoid, otherwise we were liable to start weaving, as our track width isn't the same as theirs. Both lanes were peppered with so many potholes and rough patches that I spent many miles driving on the hard shoulder as it was a better surface.

The most frustrating thing of all is that we have to buy vignettes at the border to allow us to use their roads plus toll fees on top of that. A fairer arrangement would be for them to give us an envelope of cash as we left the country as a 'thank you' for coming, together with a small donation towards our next set of tyres and shock absorbers ruined by their roads.

The mixture of bad roads, pot-holed surfaces and their bad driving (letting these people drive a car with full forward vision, having been so accustomed to sitting on a cart holding a pair of reins whilst staring at a horses arse, is positively dangerous) has slowed us down considerably today. It has been a very long day. We were on the road at about 09:45 and came off at around 19:00. This TruckStop is very quiet, so we should get a good night's sleep.

As it had been a long and tiring day my resident chef rustled up a quick meal of beef in gravy, new potatoes and carrots, all tinned, and very nice it was too, especially when washed down with a glass or two of vino.