The Last Legs

Feeling surprisingly normal next morning we were awake & ready to leave by 7.30 am. Mrs Goat herd was outside our room waiting to be paid. We had declined breakfast wanting to hit the road. We had a long way to drive & a ferry to catch. We had a certain amount of trouble getting across Albania. The roads were decent enough but the signs were terrible. We took several wrong turns, but road signs would suddenly disappear. We took what looked like the right road but ended up on a goat track every time! We were stopped by police three times! First time ever. Twice for document checks & once for speeding! Lots of horses & carts on the road, but still very European dress, apart from the old ladies of course. It seems they like their gambling. Every other building was a casino. The scenery was stunning in parts. Good roads quickly disappeared into the familiar construction sites.

We drove on until lunch time, & stopped at a service station that had a food hall. The food was laid out behind a counter in hot trays. Not much choice & did not look very appetising. I vainly tried my smile & the question ‘English’? to the guy behind the coffee counter. ( He had one of those streaks of grey hair through a shock of black – like a racehorse) . The sneering curl of his lip indicated, ‘no, & eff off!  I can, & have, eaten most things. But this was the most disgusting meal I have encountered anywhere. I chose what looked like pale baked beans in a pink sauce. Rick had what could have been chicken in a cream sauce, but certainly was not. Mine wasn’t too bad, but his was sour & hideous. The rice was ok! We ate in anyway. Rick needing the calories.

We arrive at the border with Montenegro, & once again pay insurance for 15 days. The country was stunning & clearly affluent .It is only a hundred miles of coastal scenery from south to north. Several marinas along the way, with the usual multi million pound boats. Amusing to think Chris did a boat delivery from here one time. Another border & another country – Croatia. getting used to this malarky now. We stopped late afternoon in Dubrovnik & had a fabulous meal in a restaurant overlooking the city walls & the ocean. We wished we had more time.A short walk revealed stunning architecture, side streets with hundreds of steps, gorgeous shops, ice cream parlours, & much more. There was so much to see. Maybe we’ll come back one day. We drove on once more & stopped just south of Split. Once again we had travelled for miles & miles without any sign of  civilisation, & growing dark. We felt compelled to stop at the first hotel we came across, The Merlot. 50E a night was the most expensive yet, but we had no choice unless we took a chance driving on. It was very nice & the breakfast was superb. When we chatted to the owner in the morning it seems his passion was wine. ( Hence, The Merlot). He owned a vineyard. It would have been nice to visit but we were short of time. We should have been on the ferry today!

We are now heading for Slovenia & Austria. Weaving & winding up mountain roads, panoramic views below. The road signs warn us to Beware of wolves, bears & wild boars! Right, will do! It’s 30 degrees & blue sky. Busy roads & long fuel queues. We enter Slovenia around 3 pm & drive straight across. Pastel coloured houses, pretty flowers & very clean & tidy. 

Little to report from now on, we have to drive hard for our ferry from Calais. We cross Austria which was stunning as expected, & on into Germany. After a 12 hour drive, we stopped during the night at a service station for a couple of hours sleep in Benny. The services were brilliant. We could use loos & have a shower. Onward & upward to France which was freezing! We’ve seen the last of the sun it seems.We made good time for the ferry & in fact were early. The swines charged us to take the earlier boat!

Amazing to be back in Blighty! Phew! One final drama. We are on the motorway at Derby & stop for fuel. One lapse of concentration & Ricks fills up with petrol, not diesel! 5 minutes down the road & Benny comes to a stop. We are on a slip road on a slight incline. I find a local garage on my phone & call them out. They never materialise, In the meantime Rick is under the bus, opening up the fuel tank & allowing the petrol to flow out & down the slope. I was praying to God no one would pass by & throw a cigarette out of the window! We had empty fuel cans in the boot, & he set off for the nearest garage, which luckily was just over the brow.

So that was it. 2,000 miles of adventure. All good. A little scary at times. Extremely funny at others, & above all – memorable.

Sorry it’s taken for ever to complete & I hope I haven’t bored you to death.
We will do it again I’m sure.
Over & out.
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