19 days into our ride and we`ve just rolled into Pécs. First things first...we hit an Internet cafe (9 Forint/min...about aus$6/hour) cheap so I have decided to get my travelogue up and running...I will back date other entries but this is officially the first entry on this tour. We`ve hit the emails to find out whether or not Sam`s mate, Akos, from Pécs has answered our confirmation that we are coming...and of course he hasn`t, so no telling where will be spending the next couple of days (we were looking forward to somewhere to wash ourselves/bikes/and a few clothes...all 3 starting to look and smell a bit), we have no contact number for him...so all we can do is cross our fingers and hope that he reads his emails soon.
The last couple of days have been an absolute blast and have contained some humorous and very rare moments. Firstly our departure from Croatia (27th March)...we left the worst hostel in the world at Zagreb and spent another big day on the bikes (78 miles), we arrive at the border-crossing on our bikes and straight away draw attention to ourselves...the lady officer was very amused that we two Australians were crossing the Croatian/Hungarian border on bicycles and on Easter Sunday
. While they were doing the regular examination of passports etc...and we are sitting there wondering if (as always seems to be the case when Sam and I enter/exit borders) there will be some sort of problem...Sam asks if we can fill our water bottles, a tap will do...but they bring us inside and let us fill up from their chilled bottled water..sweet..then they ask us if we would like a glass of wine...of course it would not be polite to knock them back...so before you know it, Sam and I are sitting down swapping stories with the border-patrol officers and a couple of highway-policeman, while drinking down 4 glasses of wine each and a couple of beers...then they bring out some traditional Croatian dishes of food...quiche, Pork Skewers, Leeks with Salt and a few pastries/cakes on the side. The absolute best and friendliest border crossing that either Sam or myself have witnessed...we were truly loving it and wishing that we didnt have to get going, but the sun was quickly heading down and we needed to get across the Hungarian side of the crossing plus a few Km`s down the road to set up camp, so we regretfully said our Dovidenjas (goodbyes). Before departing though one of the Police officers gave Sam a breath-test just to be sure that we were OK to ride (yeah right!!!)...the legal limit in both Croatia and Hungary is 0.00 strictly enforced...Sam`s reading 0.22...the Policeman laughed said no problem my friend and sent us on our wobbly way.
The Hungarian side of the crossing was no dramas although not the party we witnessed on the other side
. Then we set up camp on the side of the road about 4km further along. We get into the sleeping bags and BOOM, the thunder and rain start (8pm) and doesn't ease up until 10am the next morning (28th March). Before that time we have a couple of visits from border patrol officers just doing their job and checking that we weren`t hopping across un-noticed...both sets of officers had big smiles on their faces once they spotted the bikes. So everything`s wet, wet, wet..although the Northface tent performed wonderfully (as it should), and the waterproof panniers (Ortlieb...fully recommended to anyone interested in bicycle touring) ensure the clothes etc are dry as a bone. It`s on with the wet-weather gear and we hit the road about 11:30am. Alls sweet and we rack up about 10km`s or so and then we are faced with a lake that has burst its banks and is gushing across the road...problem...we sit there next to the policeman who is directing cars across and contemplate our options, sit and wait for a van/truck and ask for a lift across, try and ride across (probably end up down river) or head back and find another way around (neither Sam nor I like back-tracking...not an option). So after watching 4 or 5 cars make their way across...off come the shoes/socks/pants and we head for the other side, pushing the bikes along (good fun...police were taking photos of us...and we even stopped in the middle and shot a few pics for ourselves on Sam`s camera...not digital unfortunately, more like something from the dark-ages).
After crossing the liquid obstacle the sun had come out and we rode well for the rest of the day, clocking up 45 miles for the day. The night was spent camping outside a closed camping area 30km`s from Pécs, on what we named Drug Dealers Alley...due to the continuous flow of suspicious looking characters in cars, entering/leaving what appeared to be a factory (drug factory...maybe??)
This morning (29th March) was an early start and we have ridden the 32km`s into Pécs arriving at 10am...fingers are crossed waiting for a reply from Akos, otherwise it could be the gutter we sleep in tonight :) ...the fun of unplanned travel
Szervusz (bye) for now