Monday, 27 May 2013

26th May 2013 WE ARE HERE !!

Blog. Thursday 25th April

We packed the vans, until 2am on Thursday morning.
Woke up at 4 am & carried on !
Left for the ferry fully loaded & I MEAN fully
A lot of stuff was packed into the attic, whilst other items were left in the shed, including the 2 push bikes that were specially bought for the trip :(
Got on the ferry & managed to catch a few minutes sleep.
We had arranged to meet up just out of the ferry, which went disastrously wrong.
Sue took the wrong road, & unfortunately had both of the walkie talkies whilst I had the only mobile phone.
Sue was behind me and managed to blag a free call from a British couples mobile , so we managed to arrange to meet up at the first services from the ferry
This turned out to be in Belgium !
It was the worst time of the whole trip down this time.
I stopped at the services & parked on the slip road, after what seemed an eternity Sue drove in ...
We were both pleased to see each other.
Filled both vans up with diesel, 1.56 euros per litre
Off we set, a walkie each !
Driving along a German motorway I was in front in the Transit, luckily I had the window down when I heard a hissing sound, it sounded like a hydraulic hose had burst ?
I told Sue over the walkie talkie that I had a problem.
There was a lay by that was particularly for vehicle problems which we pulled into.
The drivers side rear valve on the wheel had blown due to being perished.
A quick wheel change took approx 35 minutes.
We carried on until we found a decent looking truck stop near Cologne where we parked up in front of the restaurant and shop.
Total mileage for today was 210 miles & we were pretty shattered.
After an amazing meal , with a ice cold lager we slept in the front of the vans.

Friday April 26 th
Waking early , we looked in the shop and bought some food for the journey.
We had decided to drive on & find somewhere to stop for breakfast.
It was 7.30 when we set off
We drove 100 miles looking for an Autohof, a service area for trucks.
Asked a chap who could speak English where we could get the tyre valve replaced, he gave us directions which we followed & found a small village garage.
They only had 1 mechanic who seemed to be stacked up with work, the lady on reception gave us more directions.
After driving down the road through great countryside , we found a garage that specialised in part worn tyres.
He replaced the valve at a very reasonable cost of 7 €
I decided to change the tyre over & put the wheel on the van back into the spare carrier.
We were heading for Passau which was close to the Austrian border.
Decided we deserved a hotel, we found one which was basic @ 80€ for the night.
Went for a buffet Chinese meal which was possibly one of the worst we have ever had!
At least we could have a nice shower & the wi-fi was free.....
Covered a much better 485 miles today.

Saturday April 27th
We woke up @ 7am, @ hit the free wi-fi.
Had a quick shop in Kaufland, but couldn't buy much as we didn't have the space for anything.
The 1st Vignettes were bought on the German /Austrian border 
Stopping in Austria for breakfast, we drove through Austria, then through Hungary to just before the border.
We had to stop driving through Hungary as we were both tired, we managed to sleep for about 45 minutes as it was so hot.
We resumed our journey until we found a good place to park for the evening in a services that had a nice wooden picnic bench.
A couple of tins of chicken curry cooked on our camping stove , & some crusty bread went down a treat.
Off we retired to the drivers seats of our individual vans.
Again a respectful 450 miles had been covered.

Sunday 28th 
Woke @ 5.30 am
Drove past the border town of Szeged, which was much easier than the last trip down in September.
There had been heavy rain in the night & the roads seemed a little greasy, but were very quiet.
We arrived at the Romanian border & drove into Romania.
The lunatic drivers started almost immediately !
Over taking only when vehicles were coming from the opposite direction!
The roads were a lot better this time & the new town bypasses really helped munch up the miles.
There were less trucks on the road, but the hills started, Pauline the Transit handled them very well considering what she was carrying
3rd gear was the lowest that had to be used.
We had been monitoring the fuel consumption of the vans.
Pauline the Transit was averaging out @ 33mpg
The Caddy however was an impressive 61mpg
It seemed that Sue was hardly using the engine due to slipstreaming behind me.
We drove through Romania , until just before the border we were pulled over by the Border Police , who asked me for my Passport, looking inside he said that something was missing ?
I worked out that he was asking for some € to buy a coffee !
He spoke decent English , but didn't say exactly what he wanted, I gave him 2 € to keep him happy.

Arrived at the Calafat ferry at 4 pm.
We then put our watches forward another hour as Bulgaria is + 2 on GMT
A full ferry had just set off for Bulgaria so we had to wait for the next one.
A small one arrived and parked up.
It was roughly 90 minutes before our tyres hit the hot Bulgarian Tarmac !
A routine check on both vans by customs , they looked at the inside of both vans and waved us through.
We had decided to drive straight through as the booths try  to sell you insurance that you really don't need.
We arrived at Si & Mandy's earlier than expected to a lovely home cooked meal, thanks guys that really was appreciated !
Total mileage for the last day was approx 300 miles, but it takes ages through Romania due to the speed restrictions everywhere.

Monday 29th April
Woke up early, had a wander around Si & Mandy's & couldn't believe the progress they had made.
Handed over sometimes they had asked us to get them from Ebay for the horses.
Had breakfast but as you can imagine we were keen to get away.
Left at 9.30 am &stopped at the local water spring to fill up our bottles.
We drove into Vidin, parked at Kaufland for a few provisions and our Vignettes for BG for the vans.
Got a month for Pauline @25 Lev = £10
& 12 months for Caddy @ 67 Lev = £28
We headed off for home ! Driving along the RiverDanube.
The temperature @ 11am was 20 degrees
We arrived at the houses it was 30 degrees.
Opened the gates, checked out the house, all o.k just as we had left it in December.
We turned on the electrics & then the water, but there was a problem.
The face glass on the water meter had cracked during the winter & the "new" bathroom taps had cracked during the winter, even though they had been drained.
We had heard about exploding taps in BG before but never quite believed it.
After phoning Dimitar for advice, he suggested we drove into our local town of Lom for a new meter.
Expecting it to be a fortune, we were pleasantly surprised at the cost of 27 Lev = £12
We also picked up 2 x blanking caps to blank off the bathroom tap pipe work .
Illians brother & his Italian mate turned up as promised & fitted the new meter after attaching an adaptor.
Started emptying the Transit, & Sue made a chilli & rice.
We both had a cold bath then off to bed.
Any bath was great as it was SO hot.
We had also found out that we had new unwanted residents in Stanevo , MOSQUITOES !

Tuesday 30th April
We emptied the Caddy, also removed the 2 x Honda C90 Cubs.
Had breakfast then drove into Lom to try to sort Internet mobile
& bank. 
Lots of assorted items to buy.
It was really hot in Lom, we treated ourselves to lunch in what was to become a regular place.
We bought some new taps for the bath @ the bathroom sink.
We only managed to sort the mobile as we couldn't find the bank & we needed a BG ID card to get the Internet.
Back home Paul strimmed the long grass in a desperate attempt to get rid of the mossies.
Sue unpacked some of the clothes etc.

Wednesday 1st May
Woke up @ 6.20 am, breakfast.
We had decided that the first priority was to get the garden sorted as we needed to get the crops in for the Summer / Autumn.
Sue started on de weeding the veg plot, Paul flattened molehills & strimmed yet more grass.
Chainsawed around the apple trees.
We visited the local shop where Marta / Mariana the shop keeper explaind that we needed to get our grape vines pruned.
She came back to the garden & noticed the old broken water meter on top of the water box, she told us in Bulgarian that she was worried about our new water meter not being officially sealed.
We explained that Dimitar had arranged for the technic to call & seal the new meter, which he did the following day.
Marta arranged for 3 local lads who worked at the surrounding vineyards to call in after work & prune our vines.
We were concerned at the cost for this, but so far we have not been charged.
Fitted the new bath taps, & we both had a lovely hot bath.

Thursday 2nd May
Woke @ 6.10am, I think we may have finally sorted the mossie problem!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Sunday 26th May 2013....

Sorry its been so long, but we have been flat out working !
We will be updating the blog with plenty of pictures , including the 4 day drive down , asap......
Service will be resumed, just keep on coming back for the latest updates.