Of course, the title of this blog should really read 'from Istanbul to Teddington', because our trip around Europe in the new Nissan Qashqai is now well into the return leg, which is expected to finish later this week at Autocar HQ.

After Monday's fun and frolics in Istanbul, snapper Stan and I got back on the road yesterday for a 400-mile drive through Turkey, Bulgaria and on to Romania, with Bucharest our destination.

We needed to get some serious miles under our belt, and fortunately we managed to avoid the worst of the Istanbul rush hour – our 40 minutes spent in stop-start traffic was nothing by normal standards – and get on the near-deserted motorway back towards the border at Edirne.

When we got there, we noticed that the miles-long queues of lorries we'd seen on our way into Turkey had largely gone. As a legacy of their wait to cross the border, they'd left in their wake mile after mile of rubbish and food packaging thrown into the hedgerow at the side of the road.

After we'd untangled ourselves from Turkish passport control and made it into Bulgaria, we pressed on, vowing not to make as many stops for photos and to take in the views as we had on previous legs of our trip.   

But we had to briefly pause on a section of route 55 near Mladinovo in southern Bulgaria. We drove around a corner to suddenly discover the road opened up to three times its previous width and ran straight and true for well over a mile. 

Stan reckoned it looked suspiciously like a former runway, although some online research later that day couldn't throw up any clues as to its origins. If you have the answer, please feel free to less us know.

This was the Qashqai's second drive through Bulgaria, and taking a route that bisected the country south to north opened up some of its more interesting areas, including the snow-scattered foothills of the Sredna Gora mountains.

Here, the Qashqai's torquey diesel engine came into its own. As the road snaked up and down through the hills, it was necessary to dart past lethargic lorries at any given opportunity.  

That's never easy in a right-hand-drive vehicle on the Continent due to poor sight lines, although the flexibility of the Qashqai's powerplant made it easy to nip out and overtake when Chief Look-out Stan gave the all-clear.

We also had to stop to take a picture of the most enormous pothole either of us had ever seen. Seemingly big enough to swallow a city car, diligent locals had marked a warning of the pit with plastic bottles tied to bushes on either side of the hole. 

Stan and I noticed that the roads seemed to be in a much worse condition in small towns and villages than they were out on the open countryside. I followed a canny local in a battered Lada to copy his lines through the even more battered streets of his village.

It was sad to see so little investment in some of these remote areas. We saw schools and office buildings that had seemingly fallen into disrepair and homes without windows.

We reached the border with Romania just before dusk and headed on towards the outskirts of Bucharest, where we spent the night.