We arrived at the MAN dealership in Istanbul on a snowy Sunday afternoon. Gokhan had arranged our arrival with Nurullah, the boss. The security staff let us in and arranged for us to have an electricity supply and Nurullah texted us their wifi password. Early the following morning we drove the truck into their workshops. Our generator had a new fuse fitted, they checked the engine for exhaust leaks and we were able to fill our tank with water. Nurullah and his team were very interested in the truck and couldn’t have been more helpful, their hospitality was really heart warming. We were given cups of tea and enjoyed watching a snow ball fight amongst the technicians – snow in Istanbul was extremely rare. When we asked for the bill they said there was no charge.
It was snowing heavily as we set off the the Bulgarian border, the snow had drifted deeply on the roadsides but the carriageways were clear. By the time we had reached the border the snow had stopped and the sun was shining but it was very cold. The border crossing went smoothly, our passports were stamped, the vehicle papers checked and a Bulgarian customs officer came on board and looked in a few cupboards – we felt he was just being nosy, rather than seriously looking for contraband. In less than an hour we were in the European Union with no mention of Covid or having to be tested.
We drove for over three hours on a desolate road with very few fuel stations or other opportunities to park up. The clocks had gone back an hour and when the clock said 4 pm we were feeling very tired and hungry with the urgent need to find somewhere suitable to spend the night. It was then we caught sight of a KFC sign which seemed so incongruous in the middle of nowhere. We swiftly changed our evening menu from spagbol to chicken and chips – European decadence tasted marvellous!