Thursday 18th August.
Rain. Bloody rain. 'Central Europe enjoys hot summers and cold winters' or so I'd been led to believe. Well, at least I was seeing the road stretching out East again albeit through a misted up visor.
The border crossed, I pressed on towards Budapest. I'd stay for a day or two. A boat ride up the Danube to the medieval village of Szentendre perhaps, then on to the vine growing regions and the Romanian border. Excellent.
'I think a large plate of Hungarian goulash tonight, accompanied by several glasses of fine red wine. Maybe try a glass of plum brandy or...WHAT??!! The battery light?? Stop the bike on the hard shoulder. Start it again. Nope. Still there - glaring at me through the rain. Shit. Now what? One day from Vienna and the bike's letting me down again... Is this another omen? Call BMW Bristol. Mike will know'.
"Funny. Doesn't usually happen." he reassured me (again) down my mobile phone." Could be the diode board..." The diode board? What's that? Luckily Budapest had a BMW dealer. The last one before Istanbul. Could have been worse. This could have happened in the mountains of Transylvania. Rabid dogs. Mad axemen etc etc.
A garage owner..a taxi driver..and a man at a bus stop directed me to the hallowed ground that is BMW Budapest, who were straight on to the case. Well, nearly. The problem was indeed the diode board - but they had no spares. However, the lovely Heidi at BMW Vienna, who's card I'd kept, did and could get the parts to me - the next day. 'Vorsprung durch Technik', as they say. Raised eyebrow and wry smile.
Friday found me on the boat north to Szentendre. A pretty village steeped in history but my thoughts were with BMW Heidi and her spare parts...
Saturday morning. Yes! Part had arrived. Job done. Hands shaken. Large sums of money handed over and I was on my way through sunlit hills to the vineyards of North East Hungary. 'Perhaps try some 'paprikas esirke' tonight (paprika chicken served with tiny dumplings) followed by a glass of Tokaji Aszu - "The king of wines and the wine of kings"........'
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Louis XIV of France........
'Tokaji Asnu is a very sweet golden-white wine of an almost liqeur consistency'. Available at all large branches of Sainsbury's. So there you are.
Looking through my Journal the failure of the diode board on the autobahn to Budapest had worried me. " Am I destined to do this trip without my bike?" I'd written. " Had first thoughts to say it would be OK to do it without". Next line shouted in capitals - " NO WAY!!" But I knew I wouldn't go back after 10 days if the bike packed up.
The campsite at Tisza was my first. Setting up was laborious but somehow was an important milestone on my journey east. Despite having cooking equipment with me the campsite bar lured me.... It was my duty, I felt, wherever possible to sample the local cuisine. So, with journal - and guide book - in hand, I made my way to the lights- and delights- of the restaurant. A good choice.
I was surprised to find that I was only 100 kms from the Ukranian border next morning, but my route lay south east - to Romania. It was with some apprehension that I rolled to a halt at the border.
"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas with every Christmas card I write... hum...hum..."
Well, dear readers, it's that time of year so here's a card wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, prosperous - and accident free - New Year!
Right, back to Transylvania...the next page - coming soon.
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