D Day…December 2nd, 3.30am… Three continents, eight countries, 5,000 kilometres, and several breakdowns to cross by 20th December.
The grease was still clean on the jeep as the front wheel bearings and new brake callipers had only been fitted the day before. The new engine and diff oil would not make all the difference… but it would help.
The radiator still leaked and the main beam and rear t lights on the trailer where still not working. Croatian mechanics answer for fixing old rads and old electrical systems after nine months of begging was still a simple… ‘No’. Once the cruiser had made it to Egypt… the ‘can do’ attitude will have the jeep all fixed up and as good as new.
It was now… just a case of getting there.
We drove up the hill from Komiza, like we had done a hundred times before. Only this would maybe be the last time we would do this drive all together. We all felt a bit sad leaving our home…and leaving Sooty and Jessie, the two strays who had five stared it with us for the last nine months.
We drove in silence, thinking of what we were leaving behind… and what was to come.
In Bosnia, there was still a lot of snow on the mountains from the week before and… well you can’t drive past a ski resort covered in snow…
‘Can you Dad… I mean… we won’t see snow again for a wholes year Dad and oh pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaassssse Dad, can we go up to the Ski resort and play in the snow…?
Happiness is a snowball fight…
with your mates.
We stayed in the Bjelasnica National Park ski resort where we are keen to make a somewhere different destination sometime in the future.
‘Dad! Dad! Film me and Angus!’
On standing outside the main entrance to the 50 odd roomed hotel, I pointed my video camera up to Claudia and Angus to film them all smiles and woolly hats… only to find that they had set an ambush for me and threw two massive chunks of ice off the roof patio smashing all over the pavement area in front of the smiling receptionists.
‘Nice little children’
We pushed on and headed for Serbia. The weather turned shite and once on the other side of Sarajevo the quality of the roads deteriorated somewhat. The tunnels have no lights in them and are just carved out of the rock with no ceilings. The roads surfaces are ancient cobbled stones mixed with a patchwork of potholes, tarmac and concrete.
Due to no full beam, when we met a ‘train’ of lorries coming the other way in a half kilometre long tunnel full of potholes the driving conditions became, how should we say… unusual.
Through our research we hoped this would be the worst part of the journey in terms of weather and road conditions.
The going was slow and needed 100% concentrations. Game boy batteries were fully charged and every one seemed OK.
We’d be fine as long as the radiator and new wheel bearings held up. Breaking down in one of these tunnels was not an option.
After crossing the Serbian border where Angus and me had been stuck in no mans land a few months before, we set out to find a hotel.
As far as I am aware, there is no Lonely Planet guide book to Serbia… yet they have one for Antarctica… that’s probably because more tourist go to Antarctica, than come here.
We found the ‘hotel’ in town.
It was five stories high, 70’s communist concrete style, faded brown walls and 50 keys sitting in fifty little boxes behind the receptionist desk.
‘Do you have any rooms?’ Looking at all the keys….
‘We are two adult… three children, we want one room’
‘No room… five people must have two double’
‘For the same price?’
‘No, double price’
‘Too expensive for us, two doubles… if you can not do both rooms for same price we go motel on highway’
‘…OK’ still no expression in his face.
We were probably the first customers to walk into his hotel for day’s… maybe years… and yet he was happy to not budge an inch on the price and let us walk out.
‘Maybe he knew the sign for the motel… was only a sign now and that it had closed down ten years ago…’
‘Do you have a treble room?’
‘Is it OK two small children sleep on floor?’
‘Yes… you pay for two doubles…’
This guy had nerves of steel…
It cost €32 for a room that had not been slept in… probably since the war.
The room lights did not work… not toilet seat on the toilet, it was on the forth floor.
50 rooms and this was the best he had to offer.
‘Were can we get some food…’
‘No… restaurant closed’
‘No, you don’t say… you do surprise me’
‘Any were in town open?’
‘OK thank you for your help…’
Claudia and Angus ‘camping’ in the empty hotel in Serbia.
We strolled into town in search of tucker. The border town we were in was not exactly rocking…We split up in search of somewhere to eat and would rendezvous in half an hour.There were a few places… but the working men’s club… type place, actually had some people in it and it looked like someone had ordered some food that day…
We went in hungry and desperate for a drink.
‘You have food?’
‘What you have?’
‘Chicken, meat, soup’
The moment it was confirmed that chips were on the menu
We ate like Kings… the food as very good and the beer and wine flowed. The bill… a tenner.
In Serbia, the roads and hotels are shite… but the food it great!
Only 615 kilometres to go to our first stop!