Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Our Drive Out :- Day Three

Day Three

The cold grey fingers of dawn on Monday crept up on us, but it wasn’t that that had woken me. It was the Austrian clean up crew, their wagon was parked behind us and the radio was blaring out as they rattled and banged their way round emptying the bins. Daft o’clock in the morning and already there was life in Austria, most of the lorries had already left. Time to fiddle with the Sat Nav, looking on the map it all seemed fairly straight forward, but just to be on the safe side I only programmed it for Gyor in Hungary.

Once Jannette had finally surfaced it was down to the normal routine of sorting the animals out. The clean up crew had now left so we took the opportunity to hide some of the incriminating evidence from the cat boxes in their nice clean bins. With the animals fed and watered, with the exception of Greebo, we set off on the next stage of the big adventure.

All was going well until we hit the outskirts of Linz, we must have arrived at the Monday morning rush hour. There were cars joining and leaving the ring road, and signs coming thick and fast. At long last the Sat Nav came into its own, with keep in the left hand lane and keep in the right hand lane, take the left fork and then stay right we safely managed to negotiate our way out of a potential trip round the joys of Linz.

A wee bit further along the road and the munchies hit us, at the next sign posted truck stop with a cafe we pulled over. Once again it looked like the extras from the Sound of Music had got there before us. We shared a huge breakfast for two gazing out at snow capped mountains in the distance, we even had Darjeeling tea, very civilised. No milk though, but we coped. We paid up and left just as a bus load of Japanese tourists arrived, we couldn’t have timed it better.

Back to the chore of sorting the animals out and liberally spraying the Prada round, we even got to wear some ourselves. After a couple of hours I felt the need for more coffee, we went into one truck stop but it was so busy, I thought that all of Austria had decided to visit. Nothing for it but to head onto the next truck stop. We arrived and parked up, I went in search of coffee while Jannette sorted out the animals. Once the coffees were drunk I took Fenny for a walk round the car park, there seemed to be some sort of dog show going on at the hotel and I wasn’t the only one exercising a dog. The couple in the car next to us had spotted that we had a Boxer and started asking about his pedigree and the breeder, it only turned out that they knew of the breeder in Southampton. They can’t have been Austrian as they didn’t know anything about the vignette.

Time to hit the road again, which proved uneventful until we got to the outskirts of Vienna, and the ring road. Once again the Sat Nav safely took us round, we were starting to appreciate it now and the idea of just programming in short hops seemed to be bearing fruit. Once we left Vienna behind us it was a straight run down towards the Hungarian border at a place called Nickelsdorf. Just before the border we stopped to fuel up, get the vignette for Hungary and change Euros into Florints. To get the vignette I had to produce my passport and car documents. Those obtained we drove straight through the border point, which was totally deserted.

A quick pit stop to program the Sat Nav, our route map said that we were to make Arad which would be the first city in Rumania. The Hungarian roads were just as good as any of the other roads that we had been travelling on. The weather had improved and it seemed like we had left the rain far behind, even the sun was coming out. We had come all that way and finally we were getting to see blue skies.

We remembered that people had said to leave a whole day to travel through Rumania so our idea was to get as close to the border as possible, fuel the car, hopefully get a Rumanian vignette and then wait for daylight. It all sounded good in theory and so we set off into Hungary.

We passed Gyor and the Sat Nav was behaving itself, we passed Tatabanya and headed for Budapest. Once we got past the Budapest ring road the Sat Nav threw another wobbly, and tried to take us to Szeged. Our route planner said that we should cross the border at Gyula, in hindsight maybe we should have taken note of what the Sat Nav was telling us. We reprogrammed it to take us to Gyula.

The closer we were getting to Rumania the worse the roads were getting, and it was getting dark as well. Sometimes it seemed as though the Sat Nav was now taking us along dirt tracks that twisted and turned like nobodies business. We must have been heading in the right direction as lorries were passing us. There was nothing for it, but to follow a lorries tail lights. Luckily once we got close to Gyula the roads started to improve.

At each border crossing we had been able to get fuel and a vignette for the next country so we hoped that we would be able to do the same there. The signs for the border crossing were very vague, and the Sat Nav told us that we weren’t even on a road. We just kept heading for the bright lights and hoped that it was the right direction. More by luck than judgement we managed to arrive at the border crossing, no fuel station and no truck stop. Nothing for it but to cross into Rumania and hope for the best.

The border crossing is very badly laid out, and we ended up trying to go through the lorry crossing. At least the border guard spoke a form of English, and he told us to back up and go through the car crossing. We eventually found it, and lo and behold they even looked at the pet passports, they were only interested in Fenny as they couldn’t see the cats in their boxes, not that they could understand anything that the passports said. We passed through into Rumania, while I was getting the vignette and changing my Florints into Lei a Gypsy decided that we would wash the car. He didn’t do a good job and wanted 6 Euros for doing it, I gave him 2 and told him to bugger off. The next priority was to get some fuel, the first pump didn’t work but luckily the second one did. By this time we just wanted to get away from the border and wait for daylight. The first habitation that we came to was a place called Varsand, I have seen nicer looking shanty towns, there was no way we were stopping there for the night. Maybe Arad would be better. The bloody Sat Nav took us in the opposite direction and we ended up in a place called Zerind, another Godforsaken place. We turned round and headed towards Arad, we had passed a brightly lit hotel complex and garage on the way to Zerind, that would have to do. We paid 3 Euros to park, but at least the car park was patrolled and so we felt relatively safe.

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