Total Km: 4973
Its been a long couple of days on the road. We left Budapest in a bit of a rush after a failed attempt at a Chinese visa that we hope we’ll be able to pick up instead in Istanbul, if not our passports will be taking a little unexpected vacation to South Africa and the UK whilst we wait it out in Turkey, the lucky buggers..
And so it was on the bikes straight away and off heading south. Motoring our way down to Timisoara, Romania for our first night stop over. The Hungarian country side unfortunately passed in a blur, if the people in Budapest were anything to go on, we could have spent weeks exploring the countries’ little hamlets and villages but unfortunately Thailand waits for no man and so off we sped. The day’s riding, although scenic with Europe’s classic rolling green fields was relatively uneventful, the only exciting thing being our first border crossing since the UK. Bruce, of course, strolled through with his typical g’day mate attitude whilst I was left rummaging for bike registration documents and that passport that all South Africans fondly refer to as the green mamba for its lethal bite. Eventually with a fresh new stamp in the passport we were off into Romania and a straight shot through to Timisoara, arriving in the late evening to have a stroll around, a beer in the delightful old town and admire the second electrified light post in the world, which was missing its light bulb ironically..
The next morning we were off bright and early and into Transylvania. Transylvania itself is a bit of a wonderland of colliding worlds. They have a motorway, for a couple of kms… Then it abruptly stops without the slightest warning and you’re left to fend for yourself on roads where the potholes have potholes and the horse and cart still rule the show. We were somewhat of an enigma as we rode through on our fancy, albeit muddy BMW motorcycles, gaining stares from the ancient matriarch as she shambled across the road to the delighted laughter from the children as they chased us for as long as their little legs could take them. It was as if we’d stepped into the past, but with us had also come the new black Mercedes parked next to the crumbling house, and the fancy new construction vehicles churning up the land for the motorway. That night we went adventuring into the foothills of the snow capped mountains searching for a place to stay, I was all about ready to pitch my tent on the side of the road, rain or no rain when we stumbled upon a hidden gem. A lovely old man, who couldn’t speak a word of english, provided us with beds and doggedly set out to get us blind drunk on home made Palinka.
Despite his best efforts the night before we were up and off again early, or at least we thought we were, Bruce and Brad forgot to check the time zone didn’t we… Poor man must have been waiting for us for breakfast for an hour. So after the unknown belated start there was one thing we had to tick off whilst in Transylvania… Dracula’s castle. Or more correctly castle Bran. I don’t blame old Drac for vacating the place however as between the hundreds of vendors flogging souvenirs, the restaurants all selling vampire goulash and the swarms of tourists he wouldn’t get a wink of sleep during the day, after taking one look at the ticket queue we were of similar minds and so decided to escape the masses and hike the hill opposite for a better view. It all became suitably eery after only a few minutes in as a storm rolled in, the forest darkened and we stumbled upon an old crypt. We made it to the top however, got a couple of pics and the bolted back down. Once again soaked to the bone, which seems to be somewhat of a recurring them of late.
After Castle Bran it was another two big days on the bikes up over the mountains and then down again heading towards the Black sea and then Bulgaria. It seems that afternoon thunderstorms are a thing along the west coast of the Black sea around this time of year, yet another thing we were completely unprepared for. They remind me of the Highveld thunderstorms from back home. It will beautiful blue skies and then suddenly there’ll be a darkening on the horizon and a stillness in the air, as if the land itself is holding its breath in anticipation for the wrathful beast approaching. It’s not really the kind of thing you want to be riding your motorcycle through. Not once, but twice. The fierce winds howl at you shifting the bike across the road and the sheets of rained added to the blackened sky make visibility through a fogging helmet rather tricky. Luckily they’re short lived affairs and although the rain stays around incessantly for hours it has none of the destructive power of the initial storm front. A bit of metallica blasting away in the helmets and there was nothing the storm couldn’t throw at us.
And so once again we arrived at night, soaked and in the rain. Although we couldn’t see it we could taste the salty tang on the air of the Black sea and hear the distant cry of the seagulls heading to roost. We’ve pretty much crossed the whole of Europe and tomorrow it’s another border crossing and into Turkey. This one should be interesting…