Bulgarian Police Incident
Sighișoara, Romania to Istanbul, Turkey.
With a good nights sleep behind us we headed the last 100km to Sighișoara, Romania…
We meandered around the city going up some 15th century wooden staircases to a cathedral or the world’s oldest schoolhouse. The city was felt like a classic Transylvania town we were displaced back into history.. Dracula history.
Anyways after our touristy pictures were taken we started what would be our longest drive to date straight through Bulgaria to Istanbul….
we get into Bulgaria around 11pm and are welcomed by..
single lane highways with trucks flying past you at light speeds. blinding lights booking goods, supplies and people. the ungodly speed and control was only surpassed by the amazing full moonlight casting down upon us as we drove into the dark toward Istanbul
at this point Patrick is driving… well more like flying down the Bulgarian highway as I’m frantically trying to make out signs to see if we are going the right way while simultaneously trying to read our Europe map…
signs towards Gabrovo Габрово..
one of these signs about 2 hours into the countryside is super confusing and we circle back for it..again…and again… and well again. sat in front of it and still couldn’t figure out what direction the arrow is pointing. it’s crooked… is it right? left? straight? up?
we pull over to a gas station and the lady gives us the same dumbfounded look every gas station employee gives us… we go outside and see a group of Bulgarian mafia people smoking by their cars…on guy has shirt off, shaved head, he’s a built dude.. the other looking just as mean and the other is the guy that pumps gas for cars coming in. all smoking. all staring at us….
welp someone.. I don’t remember who.. thinks they would be good to ask for directions..they were surprisingly helpful. one guy pulled out his phone and drew on the map how to get to Istanbul from his iPhone (Apple, FYI your phones are reaching places I would have never imagined.. also they weren’t really Bulgarian mafia… just some young people chilling with their friend who has the late night shift at the gas station)
to say the least… we were on the wrong road…on our way to the worst possible path… about to enter windy Bulgarian mountain roads..
the nice Bulgarian man rerouted us to better smoother roads… I assume cuz he took one look at our car and knew we would be flipped upside down in a ditch if we went to the mountains..
note to self. just cuz it’s big and red on the map doesn’t mean it’s the safest or fastest route…
we were finally in our way on a safe smooth route towards Istanbul…
Josiah is driving at this point.. the blinding lights, crazy trucks and high bean to low beam to seemingly utter chaos… at one point Josiah was being tailgated hard by a couple of semis each flashing their lights to get grandma Josiah over to the side. but speed racer Josiah wasn’t having any of it… maybe it was the lack of sleep or the lunar adrenaline pumping through his veins… but he push the car as quick as it would go.. a speedy 100….kilometers per hour (60 miles per hour America).
(side note: our car by no means can go very fast.. but it does get fairly good gas milage. :)
so anyways we are “flying” down this hill since that’s the only way we can get up to speed. the trucks are right in our tail and Josiah decides he no longer wants to be speed racer and starts to slow down to find a shoulder.. now if you remember these are single lane highways… no street lights… you can barely see the lines… and we are going downhill…
there is no shoulder…So he starts to slow down, but by oden’s beard there’s a Bulgarian police car at the bottom of the hill at the only turn off on the road…
Josiah slows the car drastically and they start flashing their lights and wave their flashlights and what looks like a homemade stop sign and motion is to stop. He effectively pulled himself right in front of the cops over as the trucks whiz by. The cops walk towards us…flashlights in hand..
Josiah out of the goodness of his heart attempts to wake up Patrick and Marshal..
GUYS WAKE UP! guys!
I guess if one of us is going to jail.. all of us are going to jail… Patrick is out cold and marshal mumbles something about southern tea and Kentucky fried chicken…
The cops first come to my side of the car thinking I’m the driver as any normal car would…gets this super confused look and then says something in rapid Bulgarian then both him and his partner go over to Josiah’s window and ask for his license, passport, green card (remember that automobile from the previous post?), and pretty much everything.
we start gathering things up and then Josiah gets out of the and disappears behind us towards the Bulgarian policemen so car..
I can barely make out Josiah and the cops… then Josiah comes back and gets his international drivers license..(thanks AAA).
now I can just make our Josiah dragging his feet back to the car.
BANG BANG!! HELPPPP!
(just kidding.. scared ya mom didn’t I?)
Josiah comes back with all the documents and just said the cops asked if he was drunk which of course we weren’t… just sleep deprived.
and then told him to drive safely…then were very polite and professional and spoke the best English we encountered in Bulgaria thus far…
we finally make it to the Turkish border…
Marshal had the honors of finishing a 24 hour marathon of continuous driving by entering Istanbul during the Friday morning rush hour. His first time driving a car in third world-esque driving conditions.
“It was absolutely insane. the roads wound back and forth and everywhere, no lanes. cars swerve wherever and you had to get out of the way or get hit. It was crazy hot, we were sweating like crazy in rush hour traffic…”
In one of the most impressive navigational successes of the trip, Marshal and Patrick manage to navigate to the hostel using only a tiny map, by finding the sea and working their way over, street by street. Our hostel was in Sultanhamet, the center of historical Istanbul. We had to jockey with taxis down gorgeous but tiny cobblestone streets to find our tiny little hostel full of weary strangers who would soon become fast friends.