Saturday 22nd July - Bee stings and borders
You know you're on the Mongol Rally when you read the estimate on the gps and think, '6.5hrs isn't that far, it will go by quick'. Today turned into much more than that though because of two border crossings. We had the dreaded Turkish border to look forward to which we hadn't heard good things about, we were expecting 2 hours minimum there and angry border guards.
We've all come to the conclusion that Bucharesti roads are insane. At times there are no lanes on the roads and cars are all over the place. We also came to some hair raising intersections where it's legal to just cross over huge multi-lane roads in ridiculous directions. We managed though to make our way to the Palace of Parliament for an epic team photo. This huge white building is the largest in the world after the US Pentagon and made our car look like a lego block. Other tourists who were also taking photos of the building opted instead to take photos of us with our car. We're celebrities in these parts.
We saw plenty of horse and buggy's on the roads leading out of Bucharest with various loads on them. Thank goodness the rally isn't done in one of them! It would take four years to complete! We drove to what we thought was the border crossing but soon found out we were simply paying a bloke to cross a bridge. A bridge troll essentially! Five minutes later we were actually at the border crossing into Bulgaria. We were left quite confused as to why we'd paid to get over that bridge; simply a money making scheme.
Having our passports checked wasn't any issued entering into Bulgaria but purchasing the vignette was. We pulled the car over while Pat went and stood in line for the vignette. When Pat finally got to window he was met by a very rude man who eventually told Pat the machine was broken and we should go elsewhere. All that waiting for nothing! We drove two minutes away from the border and found a money exchange place on the side of the which sold a vignette to us in 1 minute. Go figure!
We drove to a nearby town called Ruse where Haylee had researched a traditional Bulgarian restaurant that was meant to be quite good. The restaurant was themed like an old Bulgarian home. We were directed to sit downstairs with a bunch of other diners, then weirdly enough asked to move upstairs where it was completely deserted. Did they think we were American and want us elsewhere? We'll never know. The waiter was very nice to us regardless and explained all the dishes. After a hearty lunch of Bulgarian cuisine we were on the road again driving for a few hours until we hit a part of our route that was closed. This unfortunately had us take a detour through some weird little towns where grandmas were randomly just sitting on the side of the road and little kids as young as five were just walking around alone. A bee flew into the car and landed on James' hand where it decided to sting him. It really caught him off guard, we pulled over to have a look at the sting. He'd definitely taken one for the team considering Haylee is allergic and was sitting right behind him! James wasn't having the best afternoon. Pat switched with him to take on the driving so James could keep an eye on the sting. James' cap flew out the window and onto the road. No man left behind we turned around and went in search of it. Fortunately it was still sitting in the middle of the road despite a lot of trucks that had passed over it.
We finally hit the Turkish border around 6pm.
First we had our passport checked by a really nice lady who told us she'd already seen about five teams come through. Things were looking good so far if the border control were all going to be this nice. Weirdly enough though she didn't stamp our passports, just
looked at them. We then had another passport check which ended up being the stamping guy. Following this we had to buy car insurance as our European one had finish as soon as we entered Turkey. Haylee had to be the one to purchase it as the car is in her name. Meanwhile Nat and James had found another rally team also going through the border process. They were an Aussie team, uncle and nephew in the red beach buggy (we'd seen them at Goodwood). The nephew in the team is doing the rally for his 21st birthday. Of course they were also going to Gallipoli; for most Aussie teams it made sense to visit this sacred site if visiting Turkey. Both their team members have to wear ear plugs while in the buggy because the engine is insanely loud. They also have no roof so are open to all the elements, quite good on a stinking hot day though! After getting insurance done Haylee had to again line up to have her passport checked and stamped. Border control then checked the vehicle, we were afraid all our yummy goods would need to be surrendered. We'd seen other cars hand in all their food at this point of the border. Fortunately for us though border control weren't bothered sorting through all the junk piled up to heaven on our car and simply just looked at the boot. Finally we were out of the border crossing after an hour of stuffing around. We grabbed a quick sunset shot after pulling off the road then continued to the town of Eceabat where our hotel was booked. Arriving around midnight we were quite tired but got into our rooms quickly and prepared for a morning at Anzac Cove tomorrow.