Christ, where to start.
I’m having trouble figuring out which day it is. Dumball fever has well and truly set in. So many countries, so many miles so far and it’s hard to put them all in order.
First up, the factual stuff. We’ve travelled around 2400 miles so far, with Mat and I alternating days so that we can each have a few drinks the nights when we’re not driving the following day. The car is holding up well, despite some small niggles, like it getting a little warm when staying still for any length of time. Luckily, we’re rarely sitting still!
Yesterday, we made the trip from Skopje to Sofia. In terms of distance, this was an incredibly short day. However, this didn’t mean that it was short in terms of hours. We were the first squadron to leave, opting to get out in advance to get a good run out of the city. I was driving so Mat commandeered the radio and Rob, our honorary team member from Tally Ho spent most of the day doing what he does best – falling asleep in the back of the car!
When we entered Bulgaria, it very quickly became apparent that there are some amazing monuments to Bulgaria’s heritage. Enormous factories, lying still and derelict made up a substantial part of the scenery. We stopped at the Paradise Hotel for “dinner”, (lovely place, we had a swim in the pool) but the service was so bad, we literally didn’t get all of our squadron fed within 2 hours. (we were suspicious that they were bringing out food 2 plates at a time, because they only HAD two plates!)
As we were approaching Sofia itself, the heavens opened and we found ourselves in the middle of a torrential downpour. Luckily, the hotel has underground parking, so we stuck the car in the dry for the night, and headed up to our room to freshen up and hit the town
First stop was the amazing BBQ restaurant. We had a fabulous meal attended to by a brilliant waitress, followed by a short stroll up the street to the Happy Bar, where we sank a few more beers before returning to the hotel bar to drink them completely out of beer. I hit the sack around 3.30am, and I certainly wasn’t one of the last people to go to bed.
This morning, bright and early (and with nary a hangover, honest!) we sped off in the direction of the Buzludzha monument. This is an incredible place to visit, standing on the top of a mountain at 3000′ as a testament to the old Socialist ruling party. It’s now derelict, but that didn’t stop us from having a wander around inside and Mat took some amazing photos.
On the way to Bucharest from the monument, we had a moment of panic when we discovered we had a flat tyre (and by discovered, I mean we were tanking along the fast lane of a dual carriageway overtaking lorries at the time!). However, after calmly calling over the radio that we were stopping to change a tyre, Mat, Rob and I managed the task in a little under 5 minutes. Pit lane crew, eat your heart out!
Finally arrived at the hotel in Bucharest, grabbed a well earned shower and ate at the Steak House inside the hotel. A couple of beers later (and only a couple, as I’m Des tomorrow), and I’m in my hotel room, having by Dumball standards an “early night”, by crashing out at 2am. Up at 8 for more driving tomorrow – on to Moldova!