6000 KM Drive – part 3 Thieves and Hookers UK to BG

Mr. McClane and I had kept in touch whilst in UK, he informed me that he’d decided to scrap the Escort and buy another car:

”What did you buy,” I asked, hoping I could tease him.

”A Skoda Octavia 4 WD turbo beastie,” He said confidently.

”What, another car you can’t get parts for in Bulgaria,” I said with a teasing chuckle!!

”Shut up, It’ll be fine, there’s a dealer in Bulgaria, I checked.” he said tersely.

We discussed our time of departure today and rendezvous points along the way to Dover ferry terminal, the first rendezvous point being Birch Hanger services down South, then Dover services just before the ferry terminal, I said I was ready to go now and would have a slow drive down South because my car is very heavy and my off side window is obscured by a long piece of furniture. Mr.McClane was still packing his car and would drive down South much later on in the day for our first rendezvous at 6 pm at Birch Hanger services.

My Bulgarian mobile phone had run out of credit, so I said if anything goes wrong I’ll see you on the boat, and with that I started my slow drive down South. I  must add here that I was so impressed with Maura’s Sat Nav. that she lent me for the journey, that I bought my own one whilst in the UK, a TomTom XXl full Europe….I’ve now bought a  mobile phone and a Sat Nav all in the same week, I feel I’m starting to join the modern World now, even if I don’t know how to work either piece of technology very well!!

I set off, but quickly pulled into a garage again, the car was driving like a boat with a drunken Captain  sailing on cold custard, I guessed it might be soft tyres with all the weight in the car, about 300Kg. I pumped all 4 tyres up to 35 psi then set off again. She was still very soggy, so I pulled in to another garage and pumped my 3 good round wheels up to 40 psi and left the square wheel at 35 psi. Not so soggy now but the slightest minor bump in the road would cause a weight wobble or weight weave, I did think about changing my worn rear shocks before the trip, now I wish I did. This weave wobble was actually beneficial though, as car drivers behind me really kept their distance!!

I parked up at Birch Hanger service near the petrol pumps so Mr.McClane could easily see me, then I had a snooze for a couple of hours while I waited for him. After waiting there two and a half hours I continued on to Dover, I wasn’t concerned in the slightest that he had missed the first rendezvous since he’s nearly always late for everything.

Crossing over the Dartford bridge, by the time I was down South, I was at long last just starting to relax about driving on the wrong side of the road. I waited only about  an hour at Dover service, our second rendezvous point, then continued on to the Dover ferry terminal for the boat to Dunkirk, still no Mr.McClane, but I was still unconcerned since there was plenty of time before the 23.59 pm ferry departure.

I arrived at the ferry check in booth shortly before 10 pm, when I booked in the lady said:

”Oh, there’s a message for you here from a Mr.John McClane for you to contact him, your on the earlier 10 pm ferry.”

Brilliant I thought, he must have got down here ahead of me while I was either sleeping or waiting around at the rendezvous points and changed our booking to the earlier ferry, no waiting around at the ferry terminal, fantastic, and with that I was marshalled straight on to the boat!!

Once on board I went to the reception desk and asked them to page Mr.McClane, no Mr.McClane appeared, still not concerned I thought he’ll be out on the smoke deck having a fag, so off I went to the smoking deck and waited there for 30 minutes….No Mr.Mcclane on the smoking deck, that means he’s definitely not on the boat!!

I began to wonder what had happened to him while I sat in the  ships cafeteria eating a very nice fried English Breakfast…..Perhaps he broke down in the dock area after changing our booking?….. Perhaps he had a minor accident in the huge car park at the ferry terminal?……Perhaps he found a bar and a cheap Hooker for the night?…..The later seemed to be the most plausible reason.

On arriving in France I went to the ferry terminal at Dunkirk to make enquiries about a missing McClane, had someone handed him in to the lost and found, drunk and covered in lipstick?

The very nice lady behind the book-in desk looked in the computer system and told me he was definitely not on my boat and so far had not booked-in on the next boat either. I asked if there was a pay phone about because my mobile was out of credit, 5 Pounds just does not go far on international calls, here in Bulgaria 5 Pounds of credit lasts two months. She directed me to a credit card phone, the instruction were all in French and my one word of French ”Bonjour” was just not helpful!!

I went back to the book-in desk where the nice lady let me use their office phone, we both rang Mr.McClanes English mobile number but kept being told the phone was switched off!! He never ever switches his phone off incase he misses a weather forecast text message…..He must be with a Hooker, and being a gentleman, he doesn’t want to disturbed the lady at work, I concluded!!  I said to the book-in lady that I’ll go and sleep in the car for a couple of hours then come back to see what boat he’s on.

I came back to the book-in desk a couple of hours later after sleeping in the car park, the nice lady said your friend is now booked on the 8 pm ferry tonight, I thought to myself, I can’t wait around here that long, also my Hungarian vignette that was valid for 10 days would be running out soon, meaning I would have to pay another 6 euros. So at 02.30 hrs. I decided to set off across Europe alone.

Sat Nav had me on gorgeous French motorways  within ten minutes, there was absolutely no traffic at this un-Godly hour, so it was radio on, window down, cigarette in hand, and I just cruised along at a nice relaxed 80 KPH all the way through France, Belgium and Luxembourg. Around 0800 hrs. traffic began to build up, so I just pulled over in to a petrol station for a snooze.

Setting off again around late morning, to cross Germany and then in to Austria, Sat Nave was 99.99% perfect, just a couple of brand new junctions around Munich were missing.

Had another quick sleep some place in Germany at a truck stop, then another little sleep in Austria, then for some reason Sat Nat took me off the motorway in Austria for a while, I didn’t mind too much though because Austria is beautiful.

On in to Hungary and Romania, I crossed the Hungarian – Romanian border at Arad during the early evening, there were a couple of routes from here to Bulgaria, the longer but faster Bucharest route (700 KM) or the shorter but slower (350 KM) Calafat – Vidin route. I chose the shorter but longer in time route because I would have been home in Bulgaria during the small hours and had no key to get in the house without waking Linda, interesting road signs around Arad, when I saw the first sign I thought John must be in Romania ahead of me 🙂

The road down the Western part of Romania to the ferry at Calafat is bloody slow beyond belief, even at night!!  Single lane, very twisty and steep, heavy trucks struggle along and there are no places to over take. I also needed petrol but there were few filling stations open, normally I would only use big name petrol stations but I had no choice but to use a grubby broken down filling station. 10 minutes after filling up the engine starts cutting out, coughing and spluttering!!

I suspected watered down or dirty petrol, I kept going as best as I could, definitely not wanting to stop in Romania at night, one reads such bad things on the internet about Romania at night. As I finally approached the port area in Calafat, police were everywhere even at this time of the morning, they were stopping cars but not trucks.

My turn came to be stopped, the policeman didn’t want my car papers that I was handing to him, he just asked for my passport…..And then proceeded to flick through the pages whilst holding my passport upside down??

”Euros, No euros.” Said the police man.

”No Euros, problem……Give me Euros.” He said.

I tried to play dumb for a while pretending I didn’t know this was a shake down for money, but that only made them a little angrier, the second police man started to take an interest in the contents of my car. I obviously didn’t want them stealing any of my belongings,  so alone in the middle of  nowhere, with no people about to create a commotion too, I decided to then cooperate and just give them money!!

My main money was hidden away, but I had 25 Euros visible in my wallet, the thieving policeman took it all….I then said I need petrol, they gave me 5 Euros of my money back!!

The roads in the port area are just awful, with no suspension left and the engine still cutting out from time to time, I limped to the ferry. 26 Euros plus 8 Euros port tax….What a rip-off  for a 5 minute Danube crossing to Vidin, but this is just how it is in Romania.

Once safe in Bulgaria I started to relax again and followed the Sat Nav’s directions away from Vidin towards home, Bulgaria is pretty Third World in this area, Sat Nav then started to take me on some really bad chewed up narrow roads in to empty countryside. The poor car was taking a real beating on these tracks and I was fretting about breaking down in a very isolated place!!

On a very rough track through some place called Lom, my tyre blew and the rim became more than a little bent, I decided to drive on in first gear on the wheel rim in the hope of reaching civilisation!! There was no way I was going to try to empty the back of the car to find the spare wheel. Luckily only a few Kilometers later I came to a large village where friendly locals pointed me towards a tyre shop.

He bashed the wheel round again but told me the tyre was finished and to drive slow, I got direction from the locals towards a main road, any main road, and switched the bloody Sat Nav off. I later learned  that Sat Nav’s have to be set for NO DIRT ROADS, but having never owned a Sat Nav before I didn’t know this at the time!!

Once on the main roads I navigated with my paper map towards Maslarevo, tiredness was really taking hold now, but with only about an hours drive left I decided to carry on, windows down and chain-smoking like a prisoner on death row being fitted for the noose.

Five  minutes from home I was stopped for speeding, 80KPH  in a 60 zone, but the nice  policeman let me off, its good to be back in Bulgaria!!


UK to Bulgaria 2975 KM (1859 Miles)

Journey time                                                                                                       = 2 days 4 hours (52 hours)

Petrol consumed                                                                                                = 160 Litres (35 Gallons)

Miles per Gallon                                                                                                  = 53.11 MPG

The Sat Nav saved me 335 Kilometers but the heavier car drank a little more.

EDIT: April 27th.

Mr.McClane was not in a bar with  hookers  (So he says 😉 ) but claims his new car broke down for a whole week and couldn’t be fixed, he then drove back here to Bulgaria several days later, where he still lives to this day, a reclusive life style, trying to find the elusive formula that turns water and old fag ends into wine.






~ by travelswithmymotorbike on April 17, 2011.

37 Responses to “6000 KM Drive – part 3 Thieves and Hookers UK to BG”

  1. Wow what a journey, well done.

  2. Thieving police in Romania…who would have guessed!! these Eastern European countries should be slowed down and civilised before being allowed to join the EU!!

    • Hi Graham,

      Corruption is a double edged sword, sometimes you can work it in your favour and sometimes it goes against you…its just how it is in this part of the World!!



  3. You are lucky the police didnt steal more from you given you were alone…your word against theres!!

  4. Shame about the bent cops but at least you got away cheaply!!

    • Hi Stan,

      20 Euros (16 Quid) its a lot to them (Thankfully) but its small money to us!!



  5. You made your own Top gear road trip, wish ıcould get away from the wife for a week lol

  6. Uncle Dave:

    I was on pins and needles. First your square wheels, then the typres, then the Police. What an adventure you had.

    Riding the Wet Coast

    • Hi Uncle Bob,

      For next years trip I shall try to be better prepared and have now found out that I should have set the Sat Nav to NO DIRT ROADS lol…. Ian fiddled with the car the other day, we’re not too sure why shes not hot starting, but shes now running like normal when she gets going. I went to buy 2 new wheels and 2 new tyres but my size are out of stock at the moment, so cant go far at the moment!!



  7. Glad you and your beloved car made back in one piece – just lol

    • Hi Donna,

      Yep these old Astra’s were nailed together very well back in the old days lol..



  8. ”Hi Gary,

    2 weeks away from the wife is even better lol…”

    Don’t believe a word he says (HE MISSED ME) LOL

  9. And your going to do this again!! ….I admire your spirit lol

    • Hi James,

      Yes next year, still have more furniture plus bits and bobs stored in England…It gives me plenty of time to fix the car lol…



  10. Any news on Mcclane yet??

    • Not yet, dont think he wanted to drive through Romania at night…..perhaps tomorrow..



  11. […] mercy. My eternally vigilant internet eye stumbled across this blog post from a guy who drove his car 6000 km across Europe. Apparently his brief time in Romania was not so […]

    • Hi king of Romania,

      Thanks for the comment, we drove through Romania because we didnt want to be robbed in Serbia lol…..May as well drive through Serbia next time and get robbed there, Serbia is a quicker route driving to UK from Bulgaria lol..



  12. […] mercy. My evermore observant internet eye stumbled opposite this blog post from a man who gathering his automobile 6000 km opposite Europe. Apparently his brief time in […]

  13. Cool adventure, Romania is just a peasant country that nobody ever goes too for obvious reasons!!

  14. All that preparation you DIDNT do was really worth it lol

    • Hi Owen,

      Yes you can never do, not enough preparation lol..



  15. That was really cool visiting so many regions on a single drive. What kind of preparations are needed to make such a trip? I’ve heard that the roadways connected to the Dunkirque port are much quieter than the other ferry routes with minimum traffic congestion. It is surely a great thing for the motorists who can reach their destination within a very short time.

    • Preparations??…..Dumb luck, mostly 🙂 Dunkirque port was a little difficult to find if you dont have a Sat Nav, so I’ve bought a Sat Nav Now!!



  16. Congratulation, u made it through ok

  17. Your going to do this AGAIN!! Why??


    • Hi Eva,

      I still have more stuff in England to bring over, probably wont drive there again till next year though..



  18. Great story, funny!!

  19. […] PART 3 […]

  20. I was on a train entering Romania from Bulgaria, and was told to buy my ticket in Bucharest as late at night and ticket office closed in Pleven Bulgaria, i was travelling with my daughter going to Moscow,The two ticket inspectors dressed in uniform and with ticket machines, who demanded 270 euros from me and gave a ticket which was worthless, printed from his machine, had to buy another ticket. just had to share this experiance.

    • Hi C,

      Yep Romania and Serbia are still as bad as ever unfortunately, train travel is pretty cheap here still, I havent used it yet myself, but people tell me you can travel the length of Bulgaria by train for around 20 lev (8 GBP)



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