Oradea, Romania, May 16, 2010
I know you're all getting sick of hearing it, but this rain is not to be believed. I woke up yesterday morning in Budapest to bright blue sky, but within an hour it was overcast and in another hour it was raining. I went into town anyway and tracked down the Transportation Museum. I saw some incredibly detailed (and I suppose working, they were so detailed) models of railroad steam engines of the 1800's and 1900's. 1:5 scale and so they were pretty big. The workmanship was exquisite. Mostly built in the '30's. Ship models as well, all to scale at 1:50 so that you could compare the various ships through history. Well, the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria were little more than big floating bathtubs. Think you could run a lap around on deck in maybe 7 seconds.
An AN-2 Sitting on Top of The Museum
But I came out and it was raining pretty good so I ducked into a cafe for some lunch, came out, still raining and getting heavier. Bag it. Back to the hotel for the day. I was bushed anyway.
My room has a nice balcony with French doors, and well, the rain started seeping in and getting the carpet wet. I had done some washing and put it out to dry in the morning, but I just dagged that in, all sopping wet. But I put down a towel to soak up the water as it came in. Then throughout the day as the rain intensified, another towel, then another, then another until there weren't anymore. I told Frankie and he just said they would have to look at it later.
It rained all night, but tapered off to a drizzle just long enough for me to pack up this morning. By the time I checked out, a good 1/3 of the room floor carpet was soaked. Time to get out anyway before I got fungal rot. I had booked a room just across the border in Romania pretty much due east of Budapest because from what I could see from the forecasts, east was the best way to head. Well, I'm not quite sure how to describe the day. The best I can think of was that it was like riding through a coastal California or Oregon winter storm. The only things that were missing were the waves crashing on the rocks below and the smell of salt air. Other than that, I absolutely could visualize driving along Highway 1 during the worst of what the coast has to offer. The temperature was the same, the wind was just the same and the driving rain was just the same. Exhausting. Debris on the roads, yuck.
I had my first real border crossing today and while they didn't say anything, I could have gotten myself into real trouble. When I was in Budapest I stuck a 50 Euro note in my passport and went to the exchange place to get it exchanged for Hungarian Forints. Usually they ask for a passport when you exchange money. Anyway, the lady wouldn't take it because it has an inky blotch mark on it, back from when it got soaked along with some other papers that ran, way back when. So I stuck it back in the passport and forgot about it. Then gave the passport to the Romanian immigration guy. I guess in some countries that may be par for the course but probably not here. I'm sure it clearly looked like a bribe. Anyway, I didn't even notice it until I was checking into the hotel and opened my passport to check the number. And right there was the 50 Euro note. Gads. I'm too stupid to do this trip
Just Shoot Me Now
The hotel in Oradea is not where they said it was. The street wasn't on the GPS but they had supplied coordinates. I think they are off no matter what datum they are using. Asked an older guy on the street and he just sort of waved off in some direction, so I gave him a pen and paper and he drew something pretty crude. Anyway, it wasn't where I was, and it looked like there was something about a bridge and something about a park. So I headed off, found a bridge (wrong one) and a bunch of trees but clearly not a park. Stopped and asked some young kid at a gas station and his English was quite good. Drew a very detailed map with street names, distances and so in. Perfect. So found it. The lady at the front desk says that the rain is to continue until Tuesday.
I have to admit that this is wearing heavily on my enthusiasm. So despite the fact that it can't possibly rain every day of the trip, yes, it has pretty much rained (and has been becoming more intense) every day of the trip so far. Virtually all of Europe. So I've been considering options. I have to press on to Istanbul now to meet Diane on June 1. The long term forecasts suggest rain the rest of the way. I have to cross the Carpathians tomorrow or the next day at the latest. Not sure what to expect. I've been avoiding mountains so far because of the precipitation and very low freezing levels. The bike needs work. For some reason the whole front fork is loose now. If the tempest will stop for a bit, I will go take out and see what I can do about it. I keep riding to get out of the rain, but I never get out of it. It can't possibly rain the whole trip. Can it?