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India to England Overland 
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Elisabeth Dening's Travel Journal

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Week Seven: Negotino, Macedonia to West Sussex, England
Map here

 

 

Day 43: Wednesday, June 6th 1979
6,285 miles travelled from Delhi

Negotino (Macedonia) to Kolare (Serbia) 285 miles
Map here

Light at 5 a.m. much to Tim’s disgust. Finally got to breakfast at 6.30 a.m. after a bath, as the water was finally hot. Asked the man at desk why there was no Union Jack amongst the national flags displayed. The reply was - do you have one? What a come down to the flag that once waved over half the world!

On the road by 7.30 a.m. through mountains and some tunnels. Very busy and masses of T.I.R. trucks and very little hard shoulder. Stopped for lunch in a filthy lay by, after hours of difficult overtaking by the skin of our teeth. Shortly afterwards we got on a proper toll road motorway, only half of which was in operation (which was a bit disconcerting) but at least it was three lanes and not the usual horrid paved surface. Managed to pull in and get petrol when at our last gasp for it

Motel Kolare, near Belgrade. We had had enough by 3.30 p.m. when we were within 35 miles of Belgrade. Pulled off into a motel and had a decent room with shower and the car outside.

People camping there as well on their way south on holiday. Tim slept for hours. It had been a difficult day of driving. Dying of hunger. Dinner, masses of meat in the restaurant with soup and beer and so to bed for an early start and a long leg to Zagreb.

P.S. Passed a huge truck carrying equally huge pigs in two layers. Poor things obviously travelling to Nemesis. People starting to move south in caravans towards Greece.


Day 44: Thursday, June 7th 1979
6,570 miles travelled from Delhi

Kolare (Serbia) to Domagoj (Croatia) 300 miles
Map here

Up early, breakfast in the restaurant. Nice omelette, but how I yearn for some "little bit of butter on his bread". Also no milk for tea and we always forget the Coffee Mate (what a boon that has been as well). On the road to Beograd (Belgrade) by 7.30 a.m.

Eventually, the road became first class motorway into Belgrade and what is more, absolutely straight through and out the other side. With vivid memories of the trouble we got into when camping here before, what a relief. No drama, just drove straight through and out the other side, with only one unsuccessful diversion to find a bank. Road very good. What a change from 8 years ago. No slow vehicles or animals allowed and all the heavy traffic going the other way. How different to yesterday. Stopped by police and quite rightly so, for overtaking too fast before a junction. They could not face charging us in Serbo Croat, so wagged a finger at us and let us go! Actually, Yugoslavian driving is exceptionally good and well disciplined, warning signs aplenty and good police. Everyone has to obey or otherwise everyone would be killed overtaking on a two lane highway.

There was a lovely forest motel 80 miles from Beograd and we noticed plaques to Partisans who had died ambushing Germans along the road during the war. Good that they are remembered. Picnic lunch - spaghetti and wieners - what a treat. In a filthy picnic site, but lovely woods. Tim blissfully happy successfully catching butterflies.

On the road to Zagreb we had to find a bank as we had no money. The border is at Maribor and it is very well signposted, so very reluctantly we got off the road in Zagreb and headed for the city centre, down cobbled streets, fighting it out with trams. Again, God was good to us and we squeezed into a parking space and Tim found a bank still open at 3.30 p.m. Changed a cheque and then we got out on a ring road again, armed with fruit we had bought (lovely cherries in season). It was well signposted and we found our way out onto the main road with comparative ease.

Out of town everyone haymaking like mad and the road more rural. Nearly 20 miles out, we found the perfect guest house - an English style pub with bedrooms, located in the middle of hay fields and everyone haymaking. We were the only guests.

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Went for a walk in the hayfield and actually smelt a haycock. I really felt we were heading for our beloved Alps. It is now only 180 miles to Graz, in Austria. Very good dinner. Meat soup with bread in it, Wiener Schnitzel and a nice mixed ‘salat’ and so to bed. Traffic heavy, but slept like the dead.

 

Day 45: Friday, June 8th 1979
6,870 miles travelled from Delhi

Domagoj (Croatia) to near Weiz (Austria) 120 miles
Map here

Awake by 5.30 a.m. - broad daylight. Three transporters spent the night outside, but were gone by 6 a.m. Traffic heavy both ways. Heavenly morning, full of summer smells. Did the chores, but could not raise anyone for breakfast. Apart from a waiter still asleep, the place was deserted.

Endless streams of people stopping and trying to get in for breakfast, but all the doors were locked. Finally the waiter appeared and a dreadfully down at heel, hard working, female cook, in a very bad temper, who made omelette and ham for us. Still locked in. One woman went mad outside the window seeing me eating and another begged piteously for Coca Cola, but to no avail. Tim was very cross over packing up the car (prior to breakfast). Dumped all our petrol cans, plastic and old tyres, so we have more room and nothing on the roof. Eventually under way to the border.

Detoured into Ptuj, which is a charming place. Old castle, very Austro-Hungarian Empire style. Found a SUPERMARKET(!) with a very helpful girl and bought wine and grapefruit juice very cheaply, also butter and lovely peaches and cherries in the market from a very clownish boy.

No trouble at the border, just waved through. What a change from the naughty countries. At the Austrian border we bought third party with no trouble and also camera film and eventually stopped for lunch on a piece of unmade motorway. How could we - our first meal in Austria?! Found our way through Weiz with the aid of a new map, still undecided about going to Vienna. Finally found a phone and tried to ring the *Martz’, but no-one was there.

Lindenwirt Gasthof. Drove on and found a lovely Gasthof with a very friendly girl who had au-paired in London.

Heavenly forests, woods and haymaking. Only a hamlet. Mill stream next door.

Had a lovely walk up the hillside, ate wild strawberries and then home to a very good meal of steak salad and liver soup and so to bed with a duvet. They are very comfortable. Have decided to cut out Vienna and go on our way to Salzburg, stopping in the mountains for a couple of nights. There was a totally demented Cuckoo in the woods who never stopped calling.

* Austrian friends from Malawi days.

 

 

Day 46: Saturday, June 9th 1979
6,990 miles travelled from Delhi

Weiz (Austria) to Ramsau (Austria) 120 miles
Map here

Nice Brchen for breakfast and a warm farewell from lovely guest house. Off down a gorge valley towards Bruck am der Mur. Passed through Passail, a most delightful small town where we found a bank open - a great relief and the Post Office shut. Also a Bckerei, where we purchased Brchen and chocolate cookies.

Absolutely lovely run, over a big pass to Bruck am der Mur. New country for us. Joined a new motorway and had a coffee stop with, for this part of the world, a spectacularly dirty squat pan type loo. However, nice benches by the river. On again through forested valleys between the Tauern Mountains and the Dachstein, snow-capped, about 8,000 feet high.

Picnic stop near St Michael. Turned off the road for one of our nicer lunch stops in a wood.

 

 

Picnic stop near St Michael.

Decided we were gong to stay up a valley a few miles further on and nearer the Salzburg/Munich Autobahn.

There are many, many new autobahns, either made or under construction since we were here 8 years ago. Finally turned off at Kulm to Ramsau, where after a steep climb, we came to a super Gasthof, Sonnen Hgel.

Gastof Sonnen Hugel.

New, typical chalet type. Shown a very nice top bedroom, with our own shower and bath. The whole place very well designed, well built and decorated with marvellous carved woodwork, very luxurious and the bathroom fittings the best I have seen anywhere. Balcony for sitting out.

Ramsau, Austria Went for a walk straight away through meadows and woods, just looking at marvellous views.

One flower meadow was spectacular and there were lots of Cadbury cows with bells. Everyone was haymaking.

Decided to stay two nights. Did the chores, washing in lovely hot water. Had an excellent dinner. Mushroom schnitzel and rice, with noodle soup. In the afternoon we also had very good lemon tea and ice cream with real cream. And so contentedly to bed.

 

 

Day 47: Sunday, June 10th 1979
7,110 miles travelled from Delhi

At Ramsau (Austria) No miles!

Most beautiful, sunny morning. Managed to stay in bed until 8 a.m. Good breakfast. Cold meats, boiled eggs, Brchen and jam and very good, bitter coffee. This house is the best appointed, best finished, maintained and decorated I have seen for a long time.

Sonnen Hugel Gasthof

Everything is very tidy and bright and pot plants everywhere. We packed a picnic lunch and set off by 10 a.m. to have a day in the hills.

My back has been grumbling since fetching water for the radiator in Turkey and today I did the wrong thing sunbathing on a hillside in a flowery patch, whilst Tim caught butterflies and climbed the saddle.

Tim catching butterflies in Ramsau, Austria

Most acute trouble when I got up, but by laying prone and doing back extension exercises, I managed to hobble doubtfully along with a stick. Such a pity, as it was a wonderful day with spectacular views of the valley and ski runs and the meadows full of flowers. Deep, deep pink clover. Had lunch and finished the Yugoslav cherries which were excellent, especially eaten in high mountain pastures.

Slowly home and then out for 4 hours on the bed with Darvan and a double dose of tranquillisers. Much better afterwards. Same dinner choice, but just as good. Saw the full moon rising behind the highest peak.

Saw a St Bernard looking rather off season this afternoon at a farm. Beautiful cattle here. The hotel bill was extremely reasonable. We aim to leave at 7 a.m. and so to bed.

 

 

Day 48: Monday, June 11th 1979
7,110 miles travelled from Delhi

Ramsau (Austria) to  Camberg (Germany) 405 miles
Map here

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Another beautiful morning. My back is better. Good breakfast. Left with a warm send off. Slow, but pretty drive to the autobahn, heading for Munich. Eventually got on it and stayed on it all day. Three stops; in a pleasant lay-by, one again in a Tankestelle to buy ham rolls and one again in another lay by.

We fairly ate up the miles. Such a change not to be lumbering along in the van in the creep lane. There was quite a lot of two lane carriageway as there were plenty of road works. With everyone travelling so fast, two lane not good, especially as I was spotting for overtakers. Did not have to contend with lorries as in the main, they were not allowed to overtake.

Called it a day at 5 p.m., having left at 7.30 a.m. Pulled into a motel at Camberg. This was very handy, right on the motorway, but in pleasant surroundings near forest. Had a good dinner and a walk in the forest and very early to bed for a 6 a.m. (hopefully) start for Brussels and Ostend.

 

 

Day 49: Tuesday, June 12th 1979
7,515 miles travelled from Delhi

Camberg (Germany) to Selsey (England) 411 miles
Map here

The Last Day!

Up at 4.15 a.m. On the road by 5.45 a.m. - the earliest yet. Misty and not much traffic going our way. The weather stayed dull and traffic built up, but we passed masses of sleeping marathons in all the Tankestelle and lay bys. Dormobiles on the grand scale. Got to Aachen in record time. Through German customs with the minimum of formality, then on the motorway to Brussels. Our girl was showing signs of overheating again and being naughty to start. Had to push her at Belgium customs.

Motorway to Brussels - not so much traffic. Road not nearly so good, or Belgian driving, which was much more uncertain and slower than German. Thanks to a very good map bought at Belgian customs, we found our way to E.E.C. H.Q. In Brussels and were even luckier in finding parking. Brussels is not my favourite city for parking or finding the way. Tim was away 20 minutes then, led by an invisible Angel, pure fright and my map reading, we went straight down a tunnel onto the motorway to Ostend. Made a boob at the far end having misread a diversion and came in on a different angle, but found ourselves on top of a ferry, which was just leaving. Bought a ticket for 32. The car was very temperamental and madly overheated getting on the ferry. Had to be put on a lift and go up onto another deck. Hope we can drive off the other end!

We thought we would make for home the other side, as it would be supper time and easy travelling. By this time I obviously had a bug - had a dreadful headache and back bad. The ferry was virtually deserted. Tim still recovering from the ticket lad asking us if we were old age pensioners! As it was British Rail, he nearly took the bars out hissing NO!

We followed the line of the coast from Ostend to Calais and then straight across. Mercifully slept most of the way. Duty free stuff not at all cheap. Thankfully, needed no negotiating getting off the ferry. We were delayed in customs while the car was registered, but we were not interested in anything else.

Cold and grey! Everything a month late, Horse Chestnut and May in full bloom. Bought fish and chips at 7 p.m. and then did 140 miles home in 3 hours. No traffic and no problems, home to Selsey and 24 hours sleep.

7,926 miles travelled from Delhi

 

 

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E.G.L. Dening
Images and text are copyright E.G.L. Dening 1979/ 2008