Rain. It’s been an incessant feature of Autocar's trek in a Nissan Qashqai from its birthplace in Sunderland to Istanbul, where Europe meets Asia.

Yesterday was no exception; it had been raining when we arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Saturday evening and it was still raining when we left the gloomy capital on Sunday morning.

We made a couple of quick stops in central Sofia to grab some photographs of the Qashqai at the city's sights, including the impressive Cathedral of Saint Alexander Nevski.

Then we were off, southbound across rural Bulgaria towards the Turkish border, putting more miles between us and our starting point in Sunderland. On the city limits of Sofia we were pulled over at a police checkpoint, despite travelling well within the speed limit.

The policeman asked to see my driving licence, then seemed to forget all about it when we told him we were on our way to Istanbul and waved us on our way. Snapper Stan Papior suspected he just wanted to look at a car with the steering wheel on the wrong side. 

We drove on across a flat plain in Bulgaria and passed through some fairly run-down-looking settlements, where villagers sat on deck chairs and touted food or souvenirs. I wondered how it was possible to tempt enough passing trade to scratch a living.