Leuven – Sofia, A Trip to Remember

As many of my friends are aware, I drove from Leuven to Sofia and back in the beginning of April. Some interesting things happened on the way and I would like to share them with you.

I left Leuven on April 3rd at sunrise (6:30 a.m.). Since the E314 is an East-West highway, I practically drove into the sunrise. Driving a car with an LPG system means that you really have to plan a trip like this and know when you have to stop to refuel because not all gas stations offer LPG products. That meant that the first time I stopped on this trip was a little after Bonn to refuel, then at Wurzburg and the last stop in Germany was Passau. Apart from the amazing amount of sunshine that I had on that day, nothing spectacular happened.

The first test of the trip came when I had to drive the whole width of Austria (from the border with Germany, close to Passau, all the way to the Hungarian border) in one tank of gas. It is a distance of 370 km, while one tank usually gives me 380 km if driven at a constant speed of 130 km/h. Because of some road works and the speed limit on the ring of Vienna, I had to drive the last 5 km on petrol and refuel LPG in Hungary.

Crossing into Eastern Europe, the fun started. It was 19:00 and I had been driving for more than 12 hours. Now, in Eastern Europe they have a different system for LPG refueling, which means that I had to install a small addition to my car when I crossed the border. In the first attempt, I had not done this properly and the guy refueling my car had gas sprayed all over him. No wonder he got mad and swore at me in Hungarian. I then installed the piece of metal properly, and refueled.

Consequently, I could not remove that piece of metal since I had tightened it too much. That same guy who I had angered before told me not to bother because the system in Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria was the same. I told him I was going to Belgium, at which point he spat on my car and said some very bad words against Belgium which I will not repeat. You can imagine that by this time I am so angry I just want to turn back and head towards the familiar sights of civilization and normal, European people. I did no such thing.

After sleeping at a Hungarian gas station for 5 hours and nearly freezing, I yet again drove into the sunrise at 6 a.m. on Easter Sunday. This part of the trip was about to take me into territory I had never been to before – Romania.

Entering the country, I did not know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find that their roads are amazing (better than Belgian or Dutch roads). The scenery was beautiful and I enjoyed driving through every village very much. Only when I got to the lake at Turnu Severin did I start wishing I had never gone that way – the road was being repaired. I think that if I had kidney stones, they would have been broken down to dust with the amount of shaking that I went through because of the pot holes in that region. But after that, it was a race to the Danube river and the ferry crossing at Calafat, which I got to just in time.

I sat on the bank of the Danube and watched the Sun going slowly towards the horizon. I waited to cross into my home country and did not know what to expect. What I found on the other side were roads similar to the Romanian ones, the familiarity of my countrymen’s bad temper on the roads and the warm embrace of my mother at the end. I arrived in front of my building at 21:45, having traveled 2265 km in 38 hours. When you do such a thing, you realize how far away you have actually come and what the word ‘distance’ actually means.


One response to “Leuven – Sofia, A Trip to Remember

  1. Air travel really has taken the spirit of adventure out of traveling. This journey and all its experiences—good or bad—would have never happened if you didn’t actually take the earth-based route.

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