6000 KM Drive – Part 2 Bulgaria to England

We were supposed to leave at lunch time today, but the Escorts bedeviled electrics were now worse than ever after being ”Fixed” by the local mechanics in Trambesh, John now had only ignition and nothing else. I asked what advice the mechanics had given him regarding what he should do next, they suggested the main Ford dealers in Veliko Turnovo.

Because I watch far too many episodes of  TOP GEAR (BBC TV) my suggestion was stunningly brilliant as to how to fix Johns lights, we get some wire, connect up the lights direct to the battery with two ends taped to his dashboard, simply twist the wires together to make the lights come on!! John was unimpressed by this suggestion and muttered something about fire, he elected for the Ford main dealer instead!!

I showed John the short cut to Veliko Turnovo, we flew along the back roads at great speed, my newly hammered round wheels were no longer round again, and some wheel weights pinged off on the rough parts of the road. We arrived at the Ford main dealers just as they closed for the weekend, but I must say, the Ford mechanics were fabulous, they went about removing panels and fiddling with wires on the street outside when they should have been on their way home, they diagnosed the problem as something called a ”K Sender,” they said it was a common problem on Escorts, just change the part and everything will work normally they said, great we thought, and full of confidence I asked;

”Have you got the part”……….

”No, but we can order it, takes about a week.”

The mechanics worked some magic and the Escort had lights……Then not……Then lights again, it appeared that if the electric engine cooling fan was switched on, then and only then did the lights  work!! The Ford mechanics did a great job getting his electrics functional, all on their own time and no charge. We headed straight back to Maslarevo at Warp 7 to pick up Johns suitcase for the trip and off to England….But when we got back to the village he was locked out of his house!! His builders, thinking he had driven off to England had decided to go home very early and John had given them all his  keys incase he lost them, we then had to ring  Rooney to find his builders, collect the keys from them and drive to Maslarevo to bring them to us.

After half an hour Rooney arrived with Johns keys, we then set off immediately for England, four hours behind schedule. First stop was Ruse, on the Bulgaria Romania border, we filled up the cars with the last cheap petrol and at that moment discovered that each one of us had left the route planning to the other, so with no route plan we switched on the Sat Nav that I had borrowed from Maura, neither John nor I are accustomed to using Sat Nav’s and with our fat fingers it took a while to get under way.

We crossed the ”Friendship” bridge over the river Danube to Romania.

Once in Romania we bought our vignettes (3 Euro Road Tax) then I blindly followed whatever the Sat Nav said I should do, with John following behind. I noticed quite quickly why Romania has such a negative image on the internet with people who have driven here, there is a decided lack of speed signs, but a very heavy presence of traffic police, it was the Sat Nav that told me I had entered a 50 KPH zone, no road signs to let you know……..And sure enough around the first bend or over the brow of a hill is a cop car waiting to catch you with ”On the spot fines.”

Because we were late setting off darkness soon fell upon us, the roads through Romania were slow single carriageway and it seemed to take forever to get anywhere. As the night wore on John became very concerned that the Sat Nav might take us through Serbia as we approached that country, we’ve read nothing but horror stories about driving through Serbia and John was very worried about having his laptop stolen, with neither of us knowing how to look ahead on the Sat Navs route, she was switched off and John took over navigation duties using my rudimentary paper map of Europe. We pulled into a well lit petrol station at 3 AM, still in Bloody Romania, to sleep in our cars for a few hours.

I was woken around 6 Am by John tapping on my side window, something was wrong, very wrong, John had something on face that I’d never seen before…………A smile, this is very uncharacteristic for John, so I assumed he must have fallen asleep with his face on the gear stick or hand brake!!

The rest of the drive through Romania was uneventful and soon we were at the Romanian – Hungarian border, we parked the cars at Customs to buy our Hungarian and Austrian Vignettes, the customs people here were very friendly and helpfull.

Hungary was nice to drive through, as one gets nearer to Central Europe ( Nearer to the money) everything starts to improve, homes and property are in better repair, people dress better, the streets and roads are cleaner, civilisation in a nutshell!!

I was very surprised to see oil fields here.

One of our map reading stops.

I liked Hungary, the culture of Eastern Europe but clean and tidy. Next was Austria and the start of long sessions of highway driving fueled by Red Bull and Sandwiches.

Austria blurred into Germany….

….We slept for a couple of hours in a truck stop lay bye before setting off once more….

Germany blurred into Belgium….

Belgium blurred into Luxembourg……McClane doing an excellent job of navigating, and because we were keeping the speed to the magic number of 56 MPH (90 KPH) fuel consumption was very low!!

….Luxembourg and finally France where we were to catch the Ferry to England from Dunkirk, however France is a bit of a mad place when it comes to road signs,  after being lost for over two hours trying to find Dunkirk John relented and asked me to get the Sat Nav out….I typed in Dunkirk and she took us straight there, unfortunately straight to a pedestrian shopping centre in Dunkirk….We knew this wasnt correct but its amazing how something can make sense when your absolutely dog tired, but fortunately it was 1 AM and no people were out shopping to get in our way!!

We parked in amongst the Rose bushes and wooden benches of the shopping centre to collect ourselves, tired and exhausted John looked to be having a nervous breakdown in his car, I walked over to his car and could hear him saying, head held in hands;

”why, Why, Why do they make it so F&+king difficult in France, I just want the bloody Ferry”

I was going to ask him to walk over to a group of French lads and ask directions, being a French teacher it would have been easy for him but I could see he’d had enough for a while, so I who proudly speak no foreign languages walked over to them, and in my best Baboon hand waiving gesture language got direction to the Ferry terminal.

Over tired and barely able to stir a gear box we maneuvered ourselves out of the pedestrian shopping precinct without knocking over a single wooden bench or pot plant and headed for the Ferry terminal, at last.

We had thought we were getting late for the Ferry which added to our frustration, but  we discovered we were in fact early because we’d forgotten to change the time on our watches, we decided to have a much needed sleep for an hour or two in the car park outside the Ferry terminal.

Once onboard the ferry it was a quick bite to eat and another two-hour sleep before docking in Dover, John and I parted company at Chelmsford where I went to see my daughter while he carried on straight up north.


Maslarevo Bulgaria to East Yorkshire England = 3,310 KM. (2,068 Miles)

Journey time                                                                   = Just under 3 days.

Petrol consumed                                                            = 171 lires  (38 gallons)

Miles per Gallon   (MPG)                                             = 54.42 MPG

Cost (Average)                                                                = 215 Pounds

The above figures are for the 17-year-old  1.8 Litre Opel Astra – The 1.6 Litre Escort consumed 15% more fuel, Johnny Lead foot thought the fuel consumption difference was due to driving style.





~ by travelswithmymotorbike on April 15, 2011.

37 Responses to “6000 KM Drive – Part 2 Bulgaria to England”

  1. You should have went thru Serbia. Chickens!

    See ya Sunday.

    • Hi PJ,

      Perhaps Serbia next year, Calafat – Viden is a definite No,No…..May aswell be robbed in Serbia as Romania lol..



  2. Nice to see you were sailing DFDS, Danish Ferries Don’t Sink.

    • Hi Chris,

      DFDS was cheap too, 15 quid each way and the food was not expensive on board either…



  3. You managed to make motorway driving interesting, nice story now go and learn how to use a sat nav lol!!

  4. Good one…Thats remarkable petrol consumption for such an old car with ”Square” wheels!!

    • Hi Graham……just think what it might have been with ”round” wheels lol…



  5. I watch all the top gear road trips also, I bet you had great fun and loved all of it even the difficult parts, great adventure Dave, wish I could do it to

    • Hi Owen,

      Yep, its the old car, extreme tiredness, long distance and difficulties that make the adventure after all…



  6. Uncle Dave:

    Your mighty astra seems up for the task. Un-eventful as it should be. That’s a lot of driving for only 3 days. I can’t believe the Escort didn’t break down I take it that this is the last time you will seen Johnny LeadFoot until you get back home in Bulgaria ?

    Riding the Wet Coast

    • Hi Uncle Bob,

      Am back now, and unfortunately the return trip to Bulgaria was very eventful……Johnny lead foot has not made it back yet but I have my suspions why, all will be revealed in part 3 once the nightmares subside lol…



  7. France can be a little tricky LOL….I feel your pain, very brave journey in an old car, I’ve been waiting for the next instalments to see how you got on.

    • Hi Gary,

      I can tell you have all been waiting with interest by how fast the comments have come in lol…….part 3 – The return journey is where it all starts to unravel lol…



  8. You made it back!

    How did the satnav perform?

  9. You made it back!

    How did the satnav perform?

    Nice photos!

    • Hi MD,

      sat nav and I are not on friendly terms anymore, I swear the bitch wanted to kill me!!

      Made it back in 2 days but had problems, when are you setting off*



  10. 2 days!!!! what did you do have the car flown back lol

    • Hi Stan,

      Had a steady run mostly at night, no traffic to get in my way until Germany…



  11. 2 days? You surely didn’t break the 90kph rule?

    Which route did you take? Vidin or Ruse? I want to get Romania done in daylight if possible.

    Leaving tomorrow. I’ll be on Skype tonight if you’re around.

    • Hi MD,

      No didnt break the 90 rule in fact did a good part of the trip at 80 kph to boost up my MPG because the car was so heavy…Went Viden – Calafat way…Sat Nav saved about 400 Km off the journey compared to our outward bound trip…..Good Luck!!



    • PS..

      Got robbed by police in Romania so be a little careful there!!!



  12. Well done Davey and congratulations to the mighty Astra….Now she just has to get you back!!

    • Hi James,

      Thanks…But its all down to the car really….She got me back, Just!!



  13. I love road trips!! which was better, Europe on the bike or Europe in a car??

    • Hi Donna,

      I love road trips too……Bike is much easier, better visibility being so high up and no traffic ever gets in your way, car is more comfortable though but that makes it harder to keep awake!!



  14. Hi Dave,
    You should have bought a Morris Marina !

    • Hi Rene,

      Morris Marina…I remember them from when I was a kid…they used to get a little rusty very quickly lol…



      • I am just repeating the TopGear boys in that case.The worst BMC product ever; they call it.

        • Hi Rene,

          TOP GEAR is one of my favourite TV shows, always enjoy their road trips!!



  15. All these years u never used sat nav, how come??

    • Hi Eva,

      When I lived in Turkey the country was not covered by Sat Navs, so no point getting one, when we toured Europe on the motorbike we navigated by asking people directions lol..



  16. So finally your catching up with the World lol…


  17. […] PART 2 […]

  18. […] PART 2 […]

  19. Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.
    Car Centre Warrington

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