I've driven across Europe before in a Ford Scorpio, from England to Romania. However, this trip was just a bit longer at 4,930 Kms from Suffolk in England through to Paphos in Cyprus. That's from the west of the European Union to its furthest point east. I've now travelled back a further 2,352 Kms from Paphos, Cyprus to Bucharest, Romania, making it 7,282 Kms so far.
Having driven before on Eastern European roads, I thought the best thing this time, would be to get a 4x4. Most of the roads are very good but some are in a pretty bad condition if you stray a little from the main route. So I bought myself a 1994 2 litre Vauxhall Frontera, which has proved to be an excellent choice so far, especially on the mountainous roads of Bulgaria and Cyprus.
My tour started on 30th March 2008, driving down to Dover, England from Suffolk and boarding the Norfolk Lines ferry to Dunkerque, France. From there I drove to Brussels, Belgium and on to Franfurt in Germany. Once past Aachan it was on to Vienna in Austria and then Budapest in Hungary. After Budapest the road to Romania gets pretty ugly but I arrived at the border crossing of Oradea, Romania in one piece. It was then a drive down through Cluj on to Bucharest where I rested for a few days.
Leaving Bucharest behind on 5th April, I drove across the border into Bulgaria at Ruse. Then on the mountainous roads in the dark, I found my way to Stara Zagora and on to the border with Turkey near Svilengrad. So far all the border crossings had been quite uneventful but this was about to change as I entered Turkey near Edirne. I lost count of the number of checks made and stamps needed from plain clothes police who you couldn't tell from anyone else but the tiresome charade took a while until I had purchased my car insurance and obtained my visa.
Then it was on through Turkey to Istanbul, Ankara and down to the coastal port of Tasucu for the ferry to Turkish controlled, Northern Cyprus. Here things got very tricky with the ferry not leaving because of 'bad sea'! and first it was full and then I could buy a place and then I couldn't etc. etc. I stayed a couple of frustrating days in Tasucu before finally managing to board the ex British Rail 1970's car ferry at 3 in the morning, along with what seemed like several hundred other juggernauts and car transporters. Once under way some hours later, we groaned our way across to Kyrenia in Northern Cyprus where if I had thought the Turks were paranoid with checking, their counterparts here made them look like cuddly toys. To cut a long, harrowing story short, they wouldn't allow my jeep to enter the country as the papers were not to their liking. There was nothing wrong with my papers, they just didn't like them. Then followed a further charade seeing various non uniformed officials before being told finally I had to go to Nicosia to get permission. One taxi ride there and back with the right phone call from the right official in Nicosia and I was on my way again. I quickly went through Northern Cyprus and was relieved to arrive back in the European Union as I crossed the 'Blue Line' into the Republic of Cyprus under Greek, control.
Finally on 9th April 2008 I arrived in Paphos, Cyprus where I stayed for 3 months until 7th July, when I retraced my steps back to Bucharest, Romania where my tour is pausing for a bit more.
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