May 24, 2008 GMT
Problems and Friends

19 to 22 May 08

Our son Nick did a great job with the Russian Consul in Canberra and had our passports back with the courier within two days of their arrival in Canberra. With luck we would have them in Budapest by Tuesday 20 May leaving us a full 10 days to cover the 2000km north to the Russian border in Latvia to stay on our schedule.

Our problems getting Russian visas meant that we spent a little longer in Hungary than we planned and that we would have less time to spend with the Poles, Lithuanians and Latvians. This gave us a great chance to settle into Hungarian life and meet the locals.

Romania Hungary 153.jpg

In the village of Balatonfüred, we met Babi. When she saw the Elephant and the “Australia” sticker on the back we were whisked into the kitchen and given chilled brandy (at 1500hr the sun was over the yard arm) while we got out the computer and showed her some photos to make up for our lack of a common language.

Romania Hungary 166.jpg

We met István Winter in a service station just north of Budapest. He showed great interest in the Elephant and our travels, and we soon discovered that he was a member of the Hungarian Suzuki Burgman Club and had his immaculate 650cc scooter parked nearby.

Romania Hungary 167.jpg

We met Mariann when we stayed at a small pension on the outskirts of Budapest where the old apartment blocks tower over the suburbs in endless rows.

Romania Hungary 169.jpg

Mariann had a small menagerie of animals including this Australian lizard (Pogona vitticeps) known as Muffin. Once again, a few photos made up for a shortage of language skills.

Romania Hungary 170.jpg

It was also good to meet Australians Geoff and Chris from Adelaide who were lost in Eastern Europe in a camper. They seemed to be having a great time spending the kids' inheritance and didn't seem inclined to go home anytime soon.

Just when we were planning our final swoop into Budapest to rescue the passports from the courier's office, Jo received an SMS from an old friend, Jan Cashman, to say that she and husband Gavan were in Croatia and asking if we could meet in Hungary somewhere. This was too good an opportunity to miss so we adjusted the schedule again and headed back to the City Centre Apartments where we had stayed on two previous visits to the city. Our landlady Connie must have wondered if we would seek Hungarian residency after three visits in three weeks!

Romania Hungary 194.jpg

We had three great nights with the Cashmans while, during the day, they waded out among the tourists around the city. It turned out to be a fortuitous stop because the day before we arrived, our little computer went on strike. We think the problem was caused by a virus contracted from a Russian website but, whatever the reason, we were off the net until further notice.

Romania Hungary 202.jpg

Jo, Connie and Jan outside City Centre Apartments

We found a helpful technician who spent a full day trying to recover our system without success. Finally, at 2000hr I decided to run my recovery disc and reformat the drive. This meant that we lost all of the programs from our hard drive. We were able to save critical data before we wiped the disc, but it was still a significant setback.

Between 2000 and 0130 the next morning we rebuilt the computer using free-ware from all over the net. By the time we left Buda on Thursday 22 May, we had replaced all of our old software with the exception of our Garmin Mapsource programs. Not a bad effort and the total cost of the repair was 20 Euros.

Romania Hungary 200.jpg

We parted company with the Cashmans, who headed west into Austria, and hustled the Elephant north across Slovakia and Poland making good time with the awful roads and heavy traffic. As we post on Saturday evening 24 May we are1000km north overnighting in an hotel on the border with Lithuania. Our taste of spring weather seems to be over. It is 10 degrees C and raining, but we are still on schedule despite a few setbacks, and we have our Russian visas.

Posted by Mike Hannan at May 24, 2008 05:29 PM GMT

HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.

"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!