Towards the Black Sea

We left the Transfagarasan Mountains with the feeling that they will end up being one of the highlights of our trip and headed East towards Constanza and then South into Bulgaria. This post comes with two border crossings, enjoy!

Good bye Romania

The decision to follow the road alongside the Black Sea was based on nothing but our instinct and perhaps influenced by a long stretch of motorway leading all the way to Constanza that looked promising.

After dealing with the traffic jams of Bucharest and since we had a few Lei left, we treated ourselves to some delicious ice cream. What a big mistake.

A few miles later we joined a queue of a few cars for what looked like some sort of toll. By the time we reached the front of the queue we realised that this were about to cross a toll bridge which required a payment of 13 Lei, about 3 Euros. Not too bad, except that we only had 7 Lei left! Bloody ice creams! Let’s just say that the lady at the booth was not impressed with us. She shouted something in Romanian and immediately activated a rather funny alarm. By the time a grumpy-looking official appeared before us, the drivers behind us joined the party by making use of their horns. Nothing that a big smile and a 5 Euros note could not fix though. The official stopped the incoming traffic, made us go into reverse, asked us to jump to the front of the next lane and finally let us through not before high-fiving Enrique. This sounded like the first bribe of the trip, and a well invested 5 Euros if you ask me.

Romania had another surprise waiting for us. A few miles before the Bulgarian border we arrived in Mongolia! Except that it wasn’t Mongolia but Mangalia!!

Mangalia

The border crossing into Bulgaria was even easier than the one before! Following a quick look at our passports and vehicle registration papers, the official asked us if Lola was a real ambulance. We said “yes”, and we told him that we were on our way to Mongolia: he just laughed and waved us off. Simples!

border

This time we decided to pay the road toll as the booth was just next to the border and it would have been too obvious otherwise. What we could not have was coffee though, the cafe was closed:

coffee

Bulgaria – where is everyone??

We really went off the beaten track here, not a single car for miles. The roads are beautiful though, despite the odd pot hole here and there, and the views are stunning. There is something incredibly peaceful about countless fields of sunflower and wheat which go as far as the eye can reach.

sunflower

The sun was shining and after such a long drive we thought it was a good idea to cut our trip short and head off to the beach to find a place to spend the night. Camping Laguna was more than happy to host Lola: 19 Euros for the three of us, with WIFI, showers and private beach – heaven!

beach

After a quick dip in the Black Sea and meeting a lovely family from Latvia who were traveling all the way from Northern Europe into Turkey, it was time for dinner: grilled pork loin in tomato and Spanish roasted peppers sauce. Yummy!

dinner

On our way to Istanbul

Bulgarian road signs are funny to say the least. They are written in cyrillic but also in latin alphabet. But more importantly, they make no sense, you never know whether you are getting closer or further to the next city: Burgas – 101 km, followed by Burgas – 96 km on the next turn and Burgas – 105 km a few trees afterwards.

The road to the Turkish border is a beautiful narrow coastal road full of hills and turns, and again, not a single car in sight. Diesel is meant to be slightly more expensive in Turkey and so it was time for Lola to get a nice full tank, all 100 litres of it.

Crossing the border into Turkey involves 5 different stages and as many officials. Remember this clip?

First, passport check at the Bulgarian side, then, once on the Turkish side, another passport check, followed by car insurance purchase, a vehicle paperwork check, custom controls and final passport check. Believe it or not, our crossing was as smooth as a baby’s bottom and only half an hour later we were on the other side! They didn’t even check inside Lola!

Coming up

After driving for more than 2000 miles we take a rest in Istanbul and we catch up with some of the other teams before we all head East.

Numbers

Bribes: 1
Miles: 2109
Litres of diesel: 350
Punctures: 0
Countries: 10
Times stopped by the police: 0

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