We’re not using the most obvious route from Belgrade to Greece. Solely for any anoraks charting the Black Ice Tour‘s progress on a road map, allow me to elaborate.
Yes, that would indeed be the shortest route but it involves another non-EU border – far too time-consuming for big lorries. So straight to Bulgaria, and no more paperwork and officialdom – ah, the freedom of the open road, peppered with restrictive speed traps. But we have to get to the border first, which proves to be difficult.
There is little in the way of real motorway in Serbia despite the map marking a nice, thick blue line; gnarled figures carrying hoes share the road with us, crossing inopportunely. The Nis road cuts through mountain valleys, twisting sharply and turning alongside a river. It is pleasant, admittedly, but slow. Bulgaria, here we come.
Alas, a mere twenty kilometres from the familiarity of the European Union, we hit a bridge. Poor old Wrecker Jon is forced off the bridle path – posing as an international route to Sofia – by another truck hogging the asphalt. Oh dear, he has a history for this sort of thing. Watch this space for what happens next..