Get your map out for a minute. Or open Google Maps if you haven’t got one. The latter might be preferable, actually, given that a) you’re already online and b) Tokaj, Hungary is minuscule, barely even a village. If you can face it, put some Slayer on the stereo, too.
Well, my old wrinkled testicle, you’re now in my shoes. The Hi-Voltage Festival has been cancelled in Istanbul; your next show – you’re driving, remember – is on the seafront in Athens. Which way are you going to go? It’s totally your decision; there is one truck on this Slayer tour and you’re now the driver.
The Balkan Route
Wrong! Macedonia was in your route, wasn’t it? Well, Macedonia entails a non-EU border – a ghastly one, at that – and the roads are scarcely fit for chickens. Try again. Yes, you have to pass Sofia (Bulgaria).
Now, given that Romanian roads are made of Playdough and consequently closed in extreme heat when they melt, you could certainly head through Serbia to reach Sofia. Many drivers would. But a) Serbia is also non-EU so you’ll be queuing and b) you can buy cordon bleu, chips and a pint for barely €3 in Romania. See how many factors you need to consider?
Romanian Road Tax
Crumbs, what a good start – the sun is out and the delicious decolletage on the girl selling road vignettes is transfixing. Ooh, and she speaks English. Hooray! Sign her up on Facebook? Oh, don’t be ridiculous. A) When are you next coming through Romania? and B) you’ve got a 1700km drive to do. Focus! So that curio-seller demonstrating a naff pop-up chair at your window can piss off as well.
Right, road tax is paid and you’ve exchanged euros for Romanian lei. You’re off. At Oradea, though, you’ve got a decision to make: the main road to Arad or a “shortcut” down a goat track to Deva.
The Face of Adversity
Entirely up to you but, as Benjamin Disraeli said, ‘There is no education like adversity,’ so let’s plump for the latter route. I don’t suppose he was bouncing around like the dickens at the time, though, practising emergency stops and dodging goats.
Anyway, I expect you need the loo after the hammering you’ve just taken on the Deva road. Toilets? Well, they’re a concept, certainly, in Romania. But when you find one, don’t make the mistake, as I did, of luxuriating with a book, foolishly assuming that the toilet is actually bolted to the floor.
Put the kettle on and we’ll continue down to Bulgaria next week..