Budapest, Hungary - June 16, 2012
It's been a busy few days since I have written, but Diane's off at her conference and now is a good time to get caught up. I had to look back through my emails to see where I had last written from. Zagreb. Looks like I was complaining about the rain, but was thinking it had moved off. Hah! Eye of the hurricane.
Woke up the next morning, with two days left to get to Budapest, to another downpour. The forecast for the day was for large, damaging hail, damaging winds and rainfall rates of 2-3 cm over brief time periods... in other words, just my kind of riding weather! So I thought it might be a little safer on the small roads than on the motorway where everyone goes just as fast as always. I should have monitored the GPS routing a bit more carefully however, since I wound up on a gravel road that, after many miles, turned into mud, and farther along, into what was essentially a stream bottom. I walked one of the nastiest places as it wasn't clear that there was really a road there or whether it was just dropping off into a creek or something. Anyway, there was a mud road under there, but the water was over my boot tops. Didn't matter. My boots were full anyway. So I just headed off into it. As long as I keep moving, the front wheel creates a dry spot that the engine sneaks through. Good thing as the ignition points are down at the bottom front. If I stop, then they get wet and the engine quits. So I didn't stop. I saw on the routing that I was to eventually get to a paved road, and so assumed this was the worst of it. It should be better better coming from each direction, and worst in the middle. And that's the way it worked out. After that, things very slowly improved... but it was a little unnerving in that for about 30 kms along this track, there was no inhabited dwelling... just gutted shacks. There was a very slow-moving truck behind me I could see at times though, so figured I should stay ahead of him just in case I had problems... but it all worked out.
Where'd the Road Go?
Eventually I made it across the border into Hungary and stopped at Barcs, the first town. It took quite a while to find a place to stay as all the hotels were boarded up or actively being demolished. At one oint, I was waiting at the flashing lights to cross some train tracks as I had seen a sign for some rooms down that way, when a guy in a truck pulled up and waved me off, saying, no, not that way. I figured that he had seen me wandering around town and assuming I wanted a room, was going to take me someplace else. Oh well. I'd go anywhere in this rain, and that process of following someone to a hotel had worked elsewhere. So after following him through town, and back the highway I had just come in on, he pulls over and points to the border. Grrr. He had thought I was trying to go to Croatia and was telling me that I couldn't get there by way of the railway crossing. Oh well. Back into town. I was just getting ready to give up and continue on to Pecs or somewhere in between when I saw another sign for rooms. Went there and found it to be a gorgeous white house.
I knocked and a guy and his wife, maybe 60, open the door. No English at all, but some German. So we get through the negotiations... 20 Euros for a room and 5 for breakfast. Excellent. Yikes. Unfortunately, their entire house was white... white marble floors, white painted staircase... uh... I didn't even want to go inside soaked and muddy after my ride down the river. But I tried to minimize the damage and they were very nice about it. It was a trick to figure out how to get from my room to the door to bring in stuff, or for going out for dinner without destroying the place, but it all worked out. Excellent home stay. Tried unsuccessfully to dry out as it was still raining most of that day, but had a great home-cooked breakfast under bright blue skies the next morning.
So headed off to Budapest, drying out along the way, and considering the weather the last time I was here, in the best weather I've ever had in Hungary. No problems except for the fact that just as I hit the outskirts of town and just as the traffic started to get crazy, one of my throttles stuck open. That's fun. Two opposing cylinders, two carburettors and one sticks open. Got it off to the side and did a little fiddling with it. Opened the carburettor and polished the slide, and that helped a bit, but coming the rest of the way into downtown, it was hanging at times. It may be a cable. It might have some grit in it from the day before... but they are a non-lube variety. I have a spare if need be.
Anyway, I had booked an apartment instead of a hotel, called the apartment manager and they met me at the apartment. Beautiful Baroque building with a gold mosaic at the top. Nice apartment, although a bit modern inside. Walked over to the market and got a few staples, then Diane showed up just right on time. Just walked around in the evening. What a relief to see her. Ahhhh.... and nice to be able to talk to someone again. That was Wednesday.
Apartment - White Building with Gold Mosaic
Thursday, we just did a bunch of tourist stuff... Hop-On, Hop-Off (which now includes a boat ride on the Danube... nice) and a tour of the Opera House. Along the way, we bought tickets for a church concert which we went to last night... absolutely excellent. Organ, trumpet, violin, soprano and tenor. Lots of solos, duets and trios. Superb musicians one and all and great old church with great acoustics. But anyway, while at the Opera House, we inquired about tickets and for tonight we have front-row box seats to the ballet Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. That should be fun. And quite cheap. Guess Snow White is not such a big draw. I have my suit jacket and Diane didn't bring a dress and so I will be the pretty one tonight.
Budapest Opera House
Tripping Up a Comrade in Statue Park
So plans are to leave Monday to points west. Not even sure now where Diane will be flying out of... Venice, Innsbruck, Vienna? But in any event, I will have to come back here and pick up my duffel with all the camping gear that we will store... can't carry all my stuff and her at the same time. Think I will be back here around the 27th... then head north towards Estonia. Looks like the overall weather pattern is for the drier and hotter side of things for the next week. Everything is dry now but my boots, so my socks are constantly wet. And the smell from the boots is something indescribable. Mildewy river water. So it just contaminates my socks. I'm surprised my feet haven't rotted and fallen off yet. But I still have a bit more than a month to go yet and so there is still time.
OK... will send spots as I can, but this is an interlude... not really part of my trip as I see it. It's a very, very nice break that I really needed.