Saturday, 28 January 2012

Upon arrival in Ostend we pushed on no stop sharing the driving between us, as we needed to get to Germany and collect the new roof and carpets before Manfred Friesinger closed for the day.
We had promised to get to Bahrain as soon as possible for two reasons, firstly we did not have any spare cash to make the trip into a longer adventure holiday, and secondly we both had agreed to work for ITC (International Trading Company) in Bahrain and consequently we were due to start our jobs within 10 days, so it was a very tight schedule indeed.
We had a cool box with us to store basic food as well as a couple of thermos flasks for tea and coffee, plus some bottled water. I had heard reports that travelling through Turkey could be a problem both for getting robbed by bandits in the mountains and coming out of a rest stop only to find your car stolen, so we did not plan on stopping much along the way.
We duly arrived at the Manfred Friesinger, Porsche scrap yard in Karlsruhe, Germany, paid for and collected our parts and fitted the new roof on. That lunchtime I felt a lot better once we literally had a secure dry roof over our heads without wind noise and somehow we managed to pack the loose carpets into the car and placed the floor ones in their respective places with the rubber mats on top.
We drove into Austria without incident and stopped at a rest place up the side of a mountain. Bob started taking cine film and I shot some photographs. We backed the Porsche 911, to which we had previously fitted a whale tail rear spoiler, towards a wooden bench in a rest area. Both served as our dining table and chairs and we commenced our first picnic lunch.
The trip through Austria and into Yugoslavia was also very enjoyable, although going through Customs was a bit of a trial. Soon we were heading on the main autobahn for Belgrade and drove through in the evening heading for Bulgaria.
We only stopped when we needed petrol, at which time we had drinks, some of our own food and then changed drivers and pressed on. The following morning at the side of the road in Bulgaria, I wanted to know the local time and Bob suggested I go and ask a lady farm worker in the adjacent field. So I set off walking around the crops and stupidly asked her in English what the time was? She looked blankly at me and I started pointing to my watch on my wrist. I tried to see if she had a watch on but she took my hand a pointed to my watch. However she could not understand this as it was a new Seiko digital LED type and therefore it had no hands or numbers to indicate a clock face. I went back to Bob and we both laughed at this and decided to just press on, as a few hours either way would not hinder us.
Leaving Bulgaria and getting into Turkey was another trial and I soon found out that I, as the owner of the car, I had to have a rubber stamp picture of a car stamped into my passport with the registration, chassis and engine numbers written on it. This was to make sure I actually left Turkey with the same car.
Driving towards Istanbul was absolutely fine although the car seemed to be bouncing on its suspension a little bit more that it should have. When we next stopped I checked the dampers and they had gone soft on the rear but still worked reasonable well. We passed into Istanbul the next lunchtime and then hit our first delay of three hours, queuing to cross the Bosphurous Bridge, as there was only the one bridge is those days.
Once across the Bosphurous we were now technically into Asia for real, having travelled literally from one side of Europe to the other and things looked decidedly different all of a sudden. The road to the capital Ankara was still fine and all proceeded to plan, but the moment we had put Ankara behind us, the road turned into a dusty track and suddenly we were in full off road rally conditions! This was the main road east and I started having some doubts as to what lay ahead of us, but we had no alternative but to press on.
We have developed a regime between us and I slept while Bob drove and vice versa. We had not stopped for a shower of bath, nor had we slept in a bed for three nights, but we did manage to have a wash on the roadside and brush our teeth regularly.
It was late into the night whilst Bob was driving that the car started to get pounded underneath with large stones and the occasional rock and we had to drive right over a number of unavoidable potholes. It became impossible for either of us to sleep properly so we stopped for a while to work out where we were exactly.
Occasionally we passed TIR trucks and one or two came towards us going the other way, so we knew we were heading towards Iran on the main road, but by now I was getting very concerned about the Porsche 911’s suspension as it was getting softer and softer.
The next time we stopped for fuel we were both of the opinion that all the dampers were about as good as bicycle pumps, and the car just bounced away when we did the standard bounce test. There was nothing for it but to press on, but now we decided to slow down to around 80 kph maximum. I was also concerned that we only had one spare tyre with us and that you could easily shred a tyre in the prevailing conditions in the middle of nowhere.   

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