Day 9: The Tigra Crash
The previous evening, Nick, the owner of Camping Veliko Tarnovo told us a funny story about a group of girl scouts sleeping in the shower block during severe whether at the campsite one night. He assured us that it doesn’t rain in Bulgaria in July. So when the downpour started that night, James decided the shower block was the best idea. That was until he was awoken early by a German sounding man who decided to bathe at 5am. Aaron decided to brave it in the flooded tent. This too, was obviously a huge mistake after he woke up in his new floating waterbed. Of course it didn’t help that the tent had a hole in the top because he forgot to attach the roof vent cover.
Yesterday we saw a leaflet for some recreational paragliding. Even though it was a little off our intended route and after being woken up early, we thought we could squeeze it in our schedule. We phoned up, but they were closed, so we decided scrap that idea and just head for Istanbul instead. On route we separated from Team OMJ who sadly continued to suffer from engine overheating problems.
On a long straight road near Sliven, Bulgaria, we were doing our normal top speed of 40mph and witnessed a terrifying crash in front of us. A red Vauxhall Tigra determined we were driving too slow and pulled a daring overtake, lost control and ended up in a ditch. Travelling at well over 80 mph, the old banger steered too sharply while it was behind us, locked up the rear wheels while it was beside us and spun three complete revolutions 50 yards in front of us. It came to a rest at a 45 degree angle in a 4 foot ditch on the side of the road. Paradoxically, the bald tyres on the Opel had no sideways grip and luckily prevented the car from flipping. Feeling apprehensive, we pulled over and saw a 14 year old lad get out who immediately started shouting at us in Bulgarian. His two female passengers could speak English to us and eventually managed to calm him down. They kept asking for our recovery wagon to tow them out of the ditch, but with our limited horsepower this was obviously a non starter. Once the lad had finally figured out which direction to point the steering wheel, the five of us managed to push it out of the ditch instead. Although many bricks were shat, we had all managed to live another day. If the crash happened less than a second earlier, we’d have easily been wiped out. We were just gutted we didn’t capture it on film.
Waiting only half an hour in the queue while the turks laughed at our car, passport control at the Turkish border went smoothly. Except once we were through we needed to insure our clown kart which turned out to be a bit more challenging. At the inspection center, we handed the gentleman our car’s V5 document and after a examination of the turkish version of auto trader he could only find Lada and Lamborghini under the L heading. He told us our car doesn’t exist. As ours is neither an Italian supercar or a soviet brick we finally settled to classify our car as a Fiat 126. 20 Euros lighter, we finally left and had arrived in Turkey.
We arrived in Istanbul at around midnight and were desperate for a decadent nights sleep after the 200km drive from the border. We drove into the outskirts of the old town and found a hotel to hit the hay. We parked up and one of us went in to ask reception how much a room for the night would be. “90 for the night” they replied, thinking 90 Turkish Lira (around £20) was excellent value for a posh city hotel, we got the room. It turned out they were actually quoting the price to us in US dollars. We thought it was too good to be true. Ensuring we clarify currency units is now another lesson learnt.