Still raining the clouds are down on the road. Narrow roads lots of trucks, tunnels and mountains. We drove along the most beautiful river with lots of fish farms. We finally had to stop for lunch. In the middle of nowhere!! We found a small restaurant. Surprise the menu was in English. The young man who waited on us spoke some English but! Everything we wanted to order was not available. So ham and eggs. They were delicious. There were no women in this restaurant only men and they looked at us like we were from mars. We needed to use the bathroom, so we asked where, around back? So we headed around back. What’s this? French style! Well you have to get use to these things. Back on the road, passing in town? Against the law especially in front of a policeman. Who would do such a thing? You guessed it! Well the policeman only spoke a bit of English so he let us off. Happy day!! Soon we reached the Bulgarian border. The attendant was all business and no way was she about to buy the story of a mistake on the insurance papers. We were able to purchase a 24 hour insurance transit card and were on our way. The road soon gave away to rolling hills, farms and animals. Cows, sheep, goats, donkeys, geese and dogs all about to cross the road. Going through the villages it was apparent that fall was upon us. The corn stalks are dry and cut in the fields, and many very tall hay stacks. Many homes have corn, paprika’s, pumpkins and squash stacked and spread to dry. What a sight, with the men and women sitting out watching over their harvest. It looks like Halloween is just around the corner. Well 3 hours later and it is warming up. It gets warmer and warmer. The sun is out and hot, but wait it was just fall a few miles back. That’s right as we approached the Turkey border it was back to summer. It was 86 degrees when we reached the border and getting dark as we had lost an hour. The border was more red tape. We had to get a visa and they wanted American dollars. Oh the bank is closed. Finally they decided they could take Turkish lira. 60,000,000. would do so we went to the cash machine and got the money. Then we need immigration stamps, 14,000,000 more liras. But they never checked the insurance papers. Halleluiah!!! There is a large mosque at the border and the full moon was just coming up what a sight to welcome us to Turkey. Now to find a campground. The book says 9km east on D-100. Well we drove and drove off into the countryside and no camp ground. We finally stopped at a small gas station not even sure it was open. There were 3 men sitting in what looked like a kitchen. They were very surprised to see us, Joel explained we were lost and guess what? One of them spoke English. Sadam a young man in his twenties. We explained where we needed to be and he told us we were not even close. However we could stay there and plug in our frig and use the bathroom. They had a small restaurant and we had a nice dinner of grilled chicken and goat patties with a great tomato salad that Sadam made especially for us. So we stayed there with the truckers coming in all night. It was warm and there were lots of mosquitoes. But all in all it was a great day!!
26 September ’04, Sunday. Part 1… Our stay in Sarajevo was wet, wet, wet. As you know from our last posting, we arrived at the campground at night, and it was just starting to mist. The mist didn’t last long as it rained pretty good all night through. We didn’t really have it in us to tour Sarajevo, so we opted to head onto Sofija, Bulgaria. Our route was to take 761 and then connect to E 80 just outside of Nis. Well, you can probably start already to see that we probably made a little mistake….it’s our nature, right? You couldn’t be more right. We missed 761 right out of Sarajevo and found ourselves on 5. Now that’s ok, as 5 will intersect with 761 just before you reach E 80. As we were traveling around this corner and the next, the scenery was really pretty. We were following this fantastic river valley. The water was brilliant blue, the rock formations were awesome, and the Fall foliage is turning every leaf spectacular colors. We were really enjoying all this beauty and the solitude from being the only car or truck on the road….wait a minute…why is this ???? “It’s probably because it’s Sunday”…You think ??? I think over a period of about 45 minutes, we saw 3 cars and no trucks, and they were all coming towards us….now this could be a bad sign, wouldn’t you think ??? We came around a corner and approached a tunnel ….”Turn On Your Headlights…” “TURN ON THE HEADLIGHTS !!!!”…. “THEY ARE ON !!! DAMN, the tunnel is SUCKING the light right out of them”…”SLOW DOWN” !!! “I’M IN FIRST GEAR, AND ONLY DOING 2 MILES AN HOUR”… Let me tell you, I thought we had driven off into “The Black Hole”… As we pulled out into the daylight at the other end, we both said let’s not do that again… To our surprise, we had to do it over and over again for an additional 10 or 12 times, and we weren’t bright enough to recognize that we still we not seeing any traffic. As we rounded another corner, we had another tunnel staring us in the face, except this one was really small and had a stop light in front of it. The light was “Green” for us, but I delayed for a minute thinking do we really want to go into “This” tunnel? We could turn around and head all the way back to Sarajevo (about an hours drive now) or this could be just around the corner from our attended “761”. Now, Louise had been reading this book on the areas that we are now traveling through, and those that we will be traveling through for the next few days, in it, it said….”IT IS BEST NOT TO GET OFF THE “WELL TRAVELED” ROADS” !!! Well, I’m not sure that we are either “REALLY DUMB, or just feel someone is always watching over us. We pull into the tunnel REALLY SSSLLLOOOWWW. It was about as wide and as high as our van and no more…It was TOTALLY black, you could NOT see more than a foot in front of you, the roadway was wet and very bumpy, and there was no end to it… All we could think was…”Dear God, Please Let Us Live” Is there another car or truck coming in the other end ??? Did I really have a “Green” light, how long does it last ??? What if I have to back out ??? I can’t see anything in front of us, let alone have to back out….THIS COULD BE TROUBLE !!! Believe it or not, but we made it…as we pulled out the end, we both said “we will never do that again”. Now that we were through with that, we were on our way to find 761. I’ll have to continue this tomorrow….I’m too weak to finish tonight…
Part 2….The Tuunnneelll… Now ad The Hilll… Now remember 761 was to connect to E 80 and we are on 5 which now has just come to a dead end. This, just as we were to reach our attended 761. “Oh well” (ya, I really said that…), we had another option pop it’s self up in front of us. If we were to take this other road over here on the right (that was just around the corner of our road closed sign), we could detour over to this other town and get to 761 that way….Come on now, that would be too easy. This new road (which doesn’t have a name, but just a pointed arrow that say’s it goes to …) starts out just as any other normal road in Bosnia does…not bad and then goes to ---- in a hand basket right quick. One saving grace for us (I thought), was we had a small car filled with 3 young men in front of us…now you know they have got it together, right ??? We followed them around for about 20 minutes in heavy rain, mud being thrown everywhere, and it was a winding and twisting up hill ride. All of a sudden, the road turns to a dirt path. Just wide enough for your car and no other up or down, and we were now climbing up, up, up. There was no doubt about it, we were climbing a mountain and we weren’t sure were it was going to take us ….We couldn’t turn around, and to back out now would show we were cowards... Ya, right … As it was, we did follow them for about 40-45 minutes up and down the mountain sides, and had no idea were we would end up. Then all of a sudden, they pulled over, stopped, and got out (It looked like a potty break). I was too chicken to stop and ask why, so here we were heading out into the wilds of Bosnia finest mountains (keeping in mind all we’ve read about those un-found land mines) with out a map (not that they have done us any good !!) and try to pick the right cattle trail to get us out. These trails crossed everywhere, and everywhere we looked we saw homes and barns that were bombed, shot up, or burned out….no one around !!! Again, after driving these twisting, winding dirt pathways for another 45 minutes, we saw out in the distance, a town. Not any town, but the one we wanted to find. Now it wasn’t within an arms length, but we could see it through the clouds…Please God, Don’t Close Up Those Clouds…as long as we could see it, we knew we were ok, but when we went around a corner (and there were lots of them), we began to panic. Finally, after all that, we found our road, our RIGHT road…the sweat started to dry under our armpits and we were both very thirsty. Now to finish our day by finding a campground…not that easy, remember, we are in Bosnia and they only have one to NONE !!! Along the “toll way” we saw a sign “Hotel-Camping-Restaurant. We couldn’t wait for the next exit. As we jumped off, we pulled to a stop, paid our toll, and went looking for the “Campground”. What we found was a deserted old hotel and about 3 run down cottages off in the weeds. We didn’t need this, but we are tough. Finally, a few miles further down the “toll way” we ended up finding a large gas station/restaurant and we “camped” the night next to “The Big Rigs”….no grass, just plain old concrete
Tomorrow…. Serbia (Yugoslavia)