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Published: December 13th 2013
Woolly says – A good start to the day with donuts for breakfast with honey and jam, I was very kind and allowed Jo to share a couple although I do wish she wouldn’t insist on wiping me down before allowing me to get into Ollie. With the skies dull and overcast we stormed off down the road leaving Bulgaria a blur in the background. Before I knew it we were at the border for Serbia our twenty first country of the year. We were all a little apprehensive about entering this country, officially known as the Republic of Serbia and one of the co-founders of the former Yugoslavia it has had many problems with its neighbour Kosovo and tensions can still bubble up. Customs greeted us warmly and having our passports stamped we were quickly through and into the pretty terrain.
Woolly says – Stamps, can I use them to post my letters? As we passed the border I heard the words “We’ve gained an extra hour”. Does this mean its 8.15 again? I should be eating breakfast….WHERE’S MY BREAKFAST?? Hang on, let me take a couple of minutes of my extra hour to
think about this. What should I do with an extra hour? I know, if I go back to bed for an hour I’ll get another breakfast? Right, I’m off to bed….see you in an hour!!! (An hour later….with no more breakfast!). The first few miles sped past and the extent of the new transport infrastructure for the country was more than apparent combined with new buildings springing up it didn’t take anything away from the small villages clustered on the hillsides. The houses were bright and cheerful and very different to the relentless grey of Bulgaria. Just as we were settling into the ride and Ollie was churning through the miles we found ourselves at a sudden stop. Lorries and cars lined the road in front of us, I tried shouting ‘Go Go Go’ but everyone ignored me, maybe I should go and investigate. But Jo and Ian told me to sit down and be quiet or go and play in the boot. We sat in the queue for almost two hours with no vehicles coming through from the other side and only a low loader and two ambulances gaining access from our side, accident
or worse? We waited and waited, the ambulances re-appeared but still we sat, Woolly started to doze until the first car in the queue moved off and we all followed along. Nothing much seemed to be evident as to the wait except for a large pile of rocks on the side of the road which had dust settling around them, a landslide we concluded and picking up speed we were off.
Woolly says – a landslide? If only I’d know, I could have cleared it in no time with my tusks! Into the mountain passes we flew, the views were wonderful. I bet it looks even better in the summer! As Kilometre after kilometre went past we saw brown tourist signs for Roman sites, oh be still my beating heart. There were seventeen Roman emperors born in Serbia, and it is well-known that they all left monuments and built palaces in or close to their birthplaces. I wonder if my old mate Hadrian had travelled these roads before me? So much we could see and no time to view it, I just knew we had to come back. Over the Danube we went and with Jo pleading
for coffee we came to a stop at a service station. Three hundred and sixty dinners that coffee cost, that’s nearly a whole year of dinners!!!! It does seem a lot and we felt quite rich with our two thousand dinars but with an exchange rate of around £5.00 to 600 dinars it didn’t really add up to much. We passed Nis, are intended stop for last night and saw even more signs for Roman archaeological sites, poor Woolly. Onto the toll roads and we happily chucked hundreds of notes as Ollie stormed through. The roads were lovely and with 120km limits we gave him his head.
Woolly says – as we tore down the road I was trying to admire the views but couldn’t help overhearing the conversation. They were talking about shaving legs! I have to agree with Ian, I mean, how stupid would I look if I shaved my legs? And think about the cost in razors, I’ve got four very woolly legs!! Next came Belgrade. Suddenly hundreds of cars were surrounding us as I craned to get a look at one of the oldest capitals, I could make out
spires and domes in the distance with newer high rise and strangely shaped buildings everywhere I looked. Within minutes the city was behind us and we were cruising through arable fields and rolling landscapes. As Ollie powered on Nova Sad come into view but there was no stopping Ollie as he pounded the tarmac in his bid to gain back some of our lost time, a good job we gained that hour really or we might never reach the border before nightfall. The north of Serbia became much flatter and with twilight upon us we joined the queue to leave. As we sat waiting Woolly added further number plates to his collection and was decidedly pleased to add one from Montenegro. We reflected on our day and all agreed that it had certainly wetted our appetite for this lovely country and we would definitely need to return. Our turn came at last and we showed our passports before moving onto the Hungarian side.
Woolly says – Ian had to get out of Ollie and open everything up for the border security guard. Let me give you an idea of the conversation:-
Guard – have you got alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, explosives or firearms?
Ian – (laughs out loud)
Guard – (gives Ian a LOOK!)
Ian – only cigarettes, honest. No explosives.
Guard – where have you come from?
Ian – (looks back over his shoulder and points) Serbia.
Guard – (gives another look)
Ian – (sighs) we’ve come from Turkey
Guard – and where are you going?
Ian – (looks in the other direction) Hungary?
Guard – (yet ANOTHER look)
Ian – then through Austria and Germany, basically back to the UK for Christmas.
Guard – what is in the box?
Ian – no drugs, only Christmas presents. Would you like one?
Guard – (with a look that made me hide) passports!
Woolly says – what’s wrong with him? Ian is winding him up and this guy has got a gun!! Give him the damn passports, I want to go to Hungary not jail!!!!
Ian – (hands over passports with a smile)
Guard – (gives them back with a snarl) GO!
Ian – (climbing back into Ollie) Happy Christmas.
Woolly says – drive, for the love of Pete, DRIVE!!!
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