Even inhabitants were scarce, and the half-dozen we did see seemed to have come from nowhere. High spots on the route to Teheran, which we made by May 2, were a 16-hour wait for a police permit at Duzdap, and 80 miles of road crossed by foot-deep watercourses on the way to Meshed. On the whole, Persia have the dampers and springs about as bad a time as can be imagined.
In a Persian Black Market
Anything can happen in this region, and when we needed money the bank at Teheran advised us to try the black market. "A much better rate", it was explained to us. In fact, the black market was installed in the bank's main hall. There was a charming Englishman who dealt in opium, too... "Men are unwise, and curiously planned," in the words of Hassan, and with the polite but awkward police we did not leave until May 3.
After Tabriz, an unplanned detour took us almost into the arms of Mother Russia, for Julfa - and we were within three miles of it - is on the border. Hill roads, at night, and with thunderstorms for full measure, conducted us to Khoi, on the Turkish border.
Military posts in Persia had delayed us; usually the officer was lonely and we took tea with him, but in Turkey everyone was friendly, and the roads were good. We enjoyed a glimpse of the first real green vegetation since India; 6,273 miles were on the clock by Istanbul, and 1½ pints of oil had consumed. We had crossed the Bosphorus by ferry and enjoyed a Turkish bath.
Then Greece; and the route from the frontier at Orestias was memorably rough. We were nearly arrested on a mountain by a Greek corporal (he borrowed a rifle for the purpose) en route for the Yugoslav border town of Idomenhe.
A guard with dismantled Sten gun escorted us over a road which (quite understandably) no one used. The route to Belgrade, once we were in, was fast, and from Belgrade to Zagreb we averaged 46mph. On May 14 we touched three countries, Yugoslavia, Italy, which we entered briefly, and then Austria. The Rover's low gear was required on some of the mountain roads here.
At Mozart's birthplace, Salzburg, a pass from the U.S. authorities allowed us to go on to Munich. The strain was beginning to tell by now, and we were somewhat drastically assisted into France by benzedrine. We came by Metz, Lille, and then to Calais.
A puncture occurred, after a puncture-proof trip, only fifty miles from Calais, and this was the only mechanical trouble of the whole trip. We came into the port on May 17, and by now the mileage was 8,825.
Apart from customs delays, and about four hours pleasantly spent in Salzburg, we had come without a real halt, and the average consumption worked out at between 21 and 27mpg, according to the cruising speed chosen. The Land Rover had used less than a gallon of water.
Land Rover Defender Special - the four most extreme Defenders ever made