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Commute to Turkey

When we calculated the distance to Turkey and the list of things we wanted to see within the 6 weeks Katrina had with us, we realised that our best option was to high-tail it across the continent.

We left Venice with the intent to keep on driving for as long as we could. From Italy we need to cross Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria before we enter Turkey, where our first stop is Gallipoli.

The Slovenia countryside was very pretty and maybe worth a visit sometime, but we quickly cross the border into Croatia. Everyone raves about the Croatian coast,but we can’t say much for the scenery along the motorway, as it starts to become more sparse and bleak the further east we travel.

We stopped at a roadside café to refuel the car and ourselves.  Between the pictures and words we could decipher on the menu, we end up with chicken schnitzel (I think)!  Katrina points out the Croatian dress code; tracksuit pants, trainers, t-shirt.  Jeans are obviously reserved for more formal occasions!

As evening approaches we have crossed into Serbia and we will need to stop somewhere for the night. We pass by Belgrade (the Capital) and we decide that we won’t be stopping here, as it’s one high-rise after another, looking very depressing.  We eventually detour into Kragujevac, 20km off the motorway, thinking it would be a bit smaller (and nicer, only to discover it is the 4th biggest city in Serbia).  The tourist highlights are apparently the tennis courts, first high school and the Cineplex!

With the aid of the nav system we find the centre of town and a couple of hotels. The first is full, but the second has rooms for Aus $55 and looks reasonable.   We check in and head into the bar for a night-cap, where we discover there are very different non smoking laws in Serbia (probably none at all). We are greeted with a wall of suffocating smoke in a crowded bar, with everyone watching a basketball game.  Our distaste for the smoking is obvious and we are ushered into the restaurant where there is less smoking, but still smoking!! There is also live entertainment; a cover band belting out 80’s hits in both English and Serbian.  They do a pretty good job of Pink Floyd’s – ‘Wish You Were Here’ (but we are not sure we do).

The next morning we are back on the road, with only Bulgaria to cross.  The CPI has got cheaper, but this is (unfortunately) in direct correlation to the quality and this continues the further east we go.  In desperation for a reasonable coffee, quick meal and clean toilets we opt for McDonald’s in Sophia.  None of us are Maccas fans, but they do pride themselves on worldwide consistency – however, we don’t think the Maccas quality control team has visited Sophia in a while!

Who thought I could write so much about a road trip….anyway, we arrive at the Gallipoli peninsula early evening.