August 18, 2005 GMT
To Romania

At breakfast in Budapest it is pouring with rain. I leave at 10.30 during a lull, having still avoided unzipping my waterproofs despite all the rain on this trip. That record lasts until a few miles outside Budapest and I do the rest of the M3 in heavy rain. Heading for Debrenca, it dries up but the road is awful - and they say Romanian roads are bad..... To be fair, they are improving long sections but it certainly needed it. Mile after mile of construction damage makes overtaking impossible. My fuel reserve light has been on for over 30 miles and I'm starting to get very worried. I get to the front at another traffic light controlled section and, once through, swing it on what looks like the obvious route - nice new tarmac. Big mistake. Half a mile away, a truck is slowly heading towards me. I am now separated by a 2ft trench from the muddy construction track which I should have taken. The trucks behind me are slowly closing the distance. Spotting a gap where construction traffic has been crossing, I manage to sprint ahead and cross the trench on a pile of wet mud - good job my tyres have now got some tread on them.

Normally border areas have two way flow, meaning I should be seeing Romanian cars. There are none. For the last 10 miles on the minor road to the border there is no other traffic going either way. A little spooky, but the sun is out and things are looking good.

At the Hungarian border post they try and peel the photo off my passport and take a keen interest in my bike papers. Must be bored - obviously not many travellers here. The Romanian border is 200m away through some trees. Two Italian cars and one Hungarian have all the luggage strewn all over the road. Lots of armed border guards are wandering around with papers in their hands. I pull up for a long wait. A few minutes later, a guard wanders over with a stamp in his hand - takes a quick look at the passport and stamps it. He has no interest in the bike papers at all. He is peering at my speedo - he traces across from '150 mph' to the smaller '240 kph' and roars with laughter. He gives my passport back and seems to be encouraging me to demonstrate the top speed immediately. I laugh and decide its a joke...... there are at least 6 armed men watching me as I weave through the cars and head in to Romania.

Posted by Kevin Payne at August 18, 2005 08:16 AM GMT

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