Our first day without actually going anywhere. The weather was very bad all day-heavy rain with some snow. Went to the main railway station in the morning and had a bath, one of the most welcome I have ever had. Also managed to do a week’s washing while I was at it.
Dereck got arrested ‘cos he resembled someone who was wanted by the police. John bought a Rolex, while I bought a U.V. filter for my camera.
Stocked up with food at Gustav’s shop and had a ridiculous scene about paraffin. He sent his son for some and he came back with 2 gallons of meths. I went along with Gustav to the chemist’s to try to sort things out. After giving me various bottles to smell I got the right one. It is called petrol in German-same as in France.
Weather - wet & cold.
Tues. April 10 Innsbruck To Tolmezzo.
Brenner Pass - 4495 ft.
Tre Croci Pass - 5932 ft.
Mauria Pass - 4258 ft
A memorable day. Woke to snow, sleet and rain so decided to push on into Italy. Weather cleared as we went over the Brenner Pass. Beautiful views, improving all the way to Cortina d’Ampezzo, right in the heart of the Italian Dolomites. Caught a glimpse of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo through the snow clouds.
The big hills were having bad weather all day while we were in the sunshine. Took several photos today, just couldn’t resist it. Left Cortina by way of the Tre Croci Pass. Magnificent views, then down to Auronzo. From there a short cut again, out of the Alps, by way of the Mauria Pass. We are heading full-tilt for the sea now, hell-bent on getting some warm sun.
Weather - Cold, sunny, & mixed.
|Figure 1.9: Cortina|
|Figure 1.7: Brenner|
|Figure 1.10: Dereck, Tre Coci Pass|
|Figure 1.11: Monte Cristallo|
Things are settling into a routine.
John gets up first & makes tea and porridge, brings tea round, and then Dereck & I get up. Dereck cooks bacon & eggs, and then I make tea and wash-up. When we stop at night, Dereck & I immediately start on the meal. John gets tents & camp stretchers up and then washes up afterwards.
The land rover was serviced before we left Innsbruck, prop-shaft greased, battery topped up, radiator ditto and the engine with lube-oil.
I am kitty master by common consent. Out of the kitty comes all food, postage, fuel & oil plus any drinks we buy en-route. We usually brew-up at the roadside to save money. We have a big tin containing tea, sugar, milk, cups and a spoon, which is known as the instant brew.
Today we are in our 5th country, only 10 more to go but they are a bit bigger!
|Figure 1.13: Northern Italy|
Wed. April 11 Tolmezzo to Rijeka
Managed to get an early start for once. Up at 7.45 and away by 9am straight out of the hills and downhill to Udine, then through flat, rather dull country to Trieste. Walked around Trieste for an hour or so, posted some mail and then headed for the border.
Crossed over about 3.30 and drove to Rijeka through really wild, rugged country. Hardly any cars but lots of bullock carts. Found a good campsite just out of town, fed, and then wandered back into town.
One main street and the shopping centre is completely closed to traffic. Everybody just walks up and down. There is a huge lack of goods on display, most of poor quality and overpriced. One of the cleanest ports I have ever seen (Yugoslavia’s busiest port), where the ships tie up almost in the main St.
Weather - still cold but not quite so vicious.
|Figure 1.17: Rjeka|
|Figure 1.18: Rjeka|
Thurs. April 12 Rijeka to Zagreb
Drove confidently out of Rijeka to cross the Dinaric Alps, and immediately started climbing. When we reached the landward side of the Alps it started snowing heavily and for the next 2 hours we could have been in Siberia. Snow, ice, the lot.
Got to Zagreb at about 5 and searched for the Putnik office, found it but no mail. It was such a depressing place that we motored straight out onto the auto put to Belgrade.
Stopped at a lay-by & a German family pulled in behind us. They are going as far as Pakistan in a VW kombi. Spent an hour or two drinking beer and plum brandy before bedding down for the night, me in the front seat of the VW, Dereck in the front seat of the land rover and John in the back of the land rover. I was as drunk as a fiddler’s bitch!
During the night John suddenly sat up, leaned over the back of the seats and was heartily sick all over Dereck, who was not impressed!
Weather - terrible; snow & rain.
Fri. April 13 Zagreb to Belgrade
Sun. April 15 Topola to Vranji
|Figure 1.19: Dinaric Alps|
Woke with a terrible hangover, breakfasted & decided to travel with Bert as we were travelling at about the same speed. Got to Belgrade at about 2.30. That was, without doubt, the most boring run I have ever done. Mile after mile of dead flat country, most of it flooded. Just coming into Belgrade the clutch started to slip. Pulled over onto some waste ground and opened things up. Could find nothing wrong so decided to stay the night there & go to the land rover agency in the morning. Bert invited us over for dinner, very nice, too. After several bottles of wine the situation did not look so bleak. My only impression of this country so far is of rain & mud.
Weather - dreadful; wet & cold.
Sat. April 14 Belgrade to Topola
Presented ourselves at the land rover agency at 8am and got real V.I.P. treatment. A manager was sent with us to a garage, after we had been served Turkish coffee. The chief mechanic mucked about with it and assured us that it was O.K., so we set off. It was worse than before. Had another go at it ourselves and seemed to get it straight. Set off on the road to Greece & it went again.
Pitched camp about 40 miles out of Belgrade. Worked on the land rover until dark. Think we have it sorted now, hope so, anyway. Tomorrow will tell. If not then it will be back to Belgrade on Mon. morning.
John spent about an hour cleaning sick out of the back of the land rover while Dereck and I spent the time watching him, giving advice, and laughing.
Made the acquaintance of a charming girl called Lala at the Rover agency. She speaks immaculate English and so was our interpreter. Tried to get her to come with us - no go! I don’t know what she thought about being ushered into a dirty, sick-smelling land rover, crammed into close proximity with 3 equally dirty, smelly males.
|Figure 1.20: Lala, Belgrade|
Left Topola with hearts in mouths. Sure enough, after 30 miles it went again. Crawled around underneath it in the mud & rain & tried a desperate last resort- which worked. The measure is only temporary & will have to be attended to in Istanbul.
Many of the people now wearing curly-toed shoes, Stalin moustaches, and multi-coloured waistcoats. We think we are seeing the end of a national disaster here. We drove along a brand new motorway today, which had been reduced to single lane traffic in many places by flooding and rock fall.
All the way from above Zagreb we have been passing floods. The whole central plain seems to be flooded & the damage will take weeks to repair. Tomorrow we are heading for Greece to try to find some sunshine. John had a brief attack of 'Delhi-belly' today.
Weather - wet, as usual!!
|Figure 1.21: Skopje|
|Figure 1.22: Skopje|