|Depart: Salzburg, Austria
Arrive: Belgrade, Serbia & Montenegro
Overnight: Motel MV Ruma
- 796km and 4 countries in 1 day! What a result. We had hoped to get as far as Zagreb in Croatia, but never in our wildest dreams had we expected to get just 40km west of Belgrade in Serbia.
- We started early at 7am (although it felt like 6am to us as the clocks had gone forward overnight). A couple of old-timers were at the church where we parked the truck. One old lady, in her 80s, was pushing a bicycle and asked us in good English "What is your purpose with this vehicle?"
- We drove through some stunning Austrian countryside, effectively driving through the Alps. One of the tunnels was 8.5km long!
- We crossed the border to Slovenia without incident, unsurprising given that it is one of the new members of the EU. Indeed, our brief glimpse of Ljubljana showed us that it looked every bit a Western European city.
- The Slovenian coutnrysie was not much to write home about but the roads were good and we were making swift progress. The first real incident of the day was at the Croatian border where an overzealous official, obviously not happy with the look of our truck, ordered us out of our lane and into another one. Luckily for us, the other officials seemed friendly enough and we made our way through. We had now officially left the EU!
- We stopped for lunch just short of Zagreb, and the friendly woman at the restaurant restored our faith in Croatian hospitality. We were making really good progress and by about 1845 we had reached the border with Serbia and Montenegro. The officials seemed pretty friendly and had a good old laugh when we told them we were driving to China. Nevertheless, we were asked to park up and come back to the office at 1930. With nothing better to do, Russ suggested that we go to the office immediately to see if we could annoy them into processing us earlier. It worked 10 minutes and 10 Euros later, we were off.
- Just short of Belgrade, we stopped at fancy looking 3* hotel thinking there was no way we could afford to stay there. But, at EUR63 for a triple room we were in luck. When we saw the basic state of our tiny room it made sense. Clearly, what had happened was that the developers built the restaurant first which looked ultra modern with some funky designs. By the time they'd got to building the hotel they were over budget and skimped a little...OK a lot! So much so that there were hardly any lights on, I guess in a bid to save on electricity bills.
- While we were parking up, an excited employee came up to us and said that for a small fee, he would look after the truck for us and encouraged us to leave our valuables inside if we wished!! Sounded dodgy, but we handed our EUR5 over anyway for peace of mind. As soon as he'd pocketed the cash, he and his dog ran off as fast as they could behind the hotel. We'd just been fleeced! Oh well, these things do happen. However, while I was pottering about outside the hotel waiting for Russ, our attendant re-appeared out of nowhere and asked if everything was OK. Phew! Indeed, later that evening Russ went out to check on the truck and saw our attendant fiercely guarding our vehicle, well staring at it hard at least.
- At the dinner table, Mak managed to overturn her unlucky run with a delicious dish which was described on the menu as escalope but looked like some huge breaded sausage. The rest of the evening passed without incident apart from Russ' dangerous encounter with the shower head.