Eastern Exodus

16th of August, 2015

Eastern Exodus 

1,600km to Sofia, no registration papers, three boarder crossings, two through non Schengen countries. The decision is to drive continuously, seeing how far our luck can take us. It's totally illegal to drive in Europe without proof of ownership, so with our fingers and toes crossed, armed with a police report from Switzerland, we embark on our eastern exodus.

 
Up till now the little Yaris's have been the brood under a knights heal. With temperatures exceeding 44 degree celsius (Europe is currently experiencing a heatwave) the road ahead climbs towards the plateau of the Jezera National Park. The first time our beasts have tired, the water light flashes as we reach the crest. A reminder that the Yaris's are 998cc, overloaded and a lifeline to Mongolia. Nothing a rest couldn't fix, but a reminder to treat them like our babies.
 
To date, without navigation systems and our trusty road atlas, we have avoided motorways. However time to play catch up, it's unreal the differences in distance that can be traveled, but nowhere as much fun.
 
We hit the Croatian, Hungarian boarder around five in the evening, the first challenge awaits us. A slight era of judgement put us in separate queues, one car rolls on through without a worry. However our car rocks up and as we hand over our passports the dreaded question "vehicle documents". Our reply doesn't bring smiles to the authorities, quite the opposite and we are directed to the side without our stamped passports. Handing over our Swiss Police report and funnily enough the wrong car insurance documents, the officer disappears. Time to pull the cripple card, our crew pulls me from the car to my wheelchair and I roll on over to the authorities ready to ask what the story is, but abruptly get told to move back to our vehicle. No less than two minutes latter our passports are stamped and our Hungarian hurdle is jumped. We will never know the reason of their leniency, but you never know, maybe the cripple card was the ticket. Not waiting around to find out, we boosted out of there before they changed their minds. Taking one boarder at a time, great advise to be able to enjoy the now without the worry of our next challenge.
 
Keeping on keeping on, we hit the motorway towards Budapest under the setting sun. We had to drive within 20km of Budapest before heading south towards the boarder of Romania to avoid the Bosnian boarder. The darkness feel upon us as we covered hundreds of kilometres.
 
Our next challenge seemed to creep up fast. We saw the lights approaching for the Romanian boarder around 2:30am
This boarder looked serious and a little intimidating, the conversation in our car was more curiosity about our approaching fate. Sonny, Nix and Ben were in the first car to reach the officials, I believe the customs third question was show me the vehicle documents. It was pretty obvious we would be denied entry, even with the non-steropype glove wearing friendly custom officer explained about the Schigen agreement and Romania not complying. Not even a cripple card ticket worked.
 
Getting turned around to make plan E seemed disappointing. Imagin camping near the boarder, waiting for paperwork, unsure when. Not cool!!
 
So that was that according to the custom officers at the boarder, we were stuck in Hungary. It is illegal to bring our car to Romania, informing us of a close town we were able to camp, we turned the beasts around and headed back into the darkness of Hungary it's 2:30am
 
We had been driving since 11am the following morning, time to do what we do best under these circumstances, plan E came into action. Ben saw a sign with an alternative boarder crossing less than 7km away, with nothing to loose we pointed out trusty steeds towards our next challenge. 
 
Approaching the boarder it definitely looked closed, after a few minutes a customs officer waves us through, are you serious?? Have we made it to Romania?? We need a vignette to be able to drive on the motorways and just beyond the so called boarder we crossed lies the shop. Vehicle documents to get the vignette? This is getting crazy, our luck insurance papers suffice. Armed with the vignette we roll. Still unsure what country we are in, lights ahead aren't a gas station but the boarder. I thought it was too good to be true.
 
So here we go again, passports, vehicle documents. After sharing our story once again, getting good at this now "park here" the authorities disappear with all our documents. The authorities seem to be a little more relaxed at this boarder, plus with our positivity, our resilience pays off. A smiling custom lady approaches, a feeling of relief surges through my veins. Handing over our stamped papers, she explains "we have allowed you to enter on foot, as far as we are concerned you have no vehicles. If the police stop you, you will be fined for trafficking vehicles. Good luck and enjoy Romania" you got to be joking, we are overcome with excitement and relief. Let's roll team, bring on Romania. Never take no for an answer, being resilient and keeping positive under any circumstance are awesome traits our team has mastered.
 
Great call by Ben to hit up the alternative boarder crossing, see you later Hungary.
 
Now trafficking vehicles, we head onwards to Bulgaria, one step closer to being legal again. 
 
Romanian villages are majestical in the earlier hours, gives a meaning of the witching hours, feels as we are back in pagan days. I weirdly feel at home here. The team rolls on into the night, my eyes get heavy, time to pass out.
 
Our team rotates and drives through the night. I awake around 5 in the morning, still in the Romanian mountains, with ancient villages in a mist as the sun rises, totally surreal.
 
As the morning unfolds so does the land ahead, passing the lower stretches of the Danube River, we search for coffee and food. Romanian breakfast cabbage, chips and fried pork, more of lost in translation. Romanian locals break all stereotypes, incredible hospitality, smiles and greetings galore. Horse "n" cart styles.
 
Bulgarian boarder, we can smell freedom from document issues with our last hump in the road. Here we go "our vehicle documents have been stolen" custom officer "oh well, enjoy Bulgaria" STAMP. We made it, Bulgaria we love you.
 
1000km, 30hours driving we hit Sofia........