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.
There’s an element of surprise about today, because we haven't quite decided what our route will be. All that's certain is that we have to make another major step towards home.
Follow our progress at @matt_burt_ and @autocar.
Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day one
Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day two
Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day three
Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day four
Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day five
Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day six
Nissan Qashai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day seven
Nissan Qashqai from Sunderland to Istanbul, day eight