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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

At the Bors border crossing from Romania the customs guys gave me cup of coffee and some water, which was really nice of them. Just a stamp in my passport and I was on my way west. I took a few detours north, west, north, then west again as I had a couple of places to check out. One of these in the centre of the Great Plain was the Barna windmill at Karcag. I spent a couple of hours here with the caretaker showing me the workings of this magnificent piece of engineering.

Only 100 km to Budapest and I had a real bad day when the engine began making alarming noises. After a sleepless night trying to fathom what to try next I was up at first light pulling the magneto apart. It turns out the problem was carbon in the magneto which had got stuck & was burning away. This resulted in the spring not being pushed down as it should. There’s times when things feel pretty crappy, especially after a hard day. Being able to share the problem with Lynne during our evening chat on skype is enough to gain a bit of perspective and usually next morning the answer comes to me. It’s not just Effie who is sometimes runs out of steam!

I try to avoid freeways for all the usual reasons but sometimes I just end up there and in Hungary it was the first time I was stopped by the police and told I wasn’t traveling fast enough (60kmph) and I’d have to take the next exit. I’d actually shot myself in the foot as for reasons I won’t allude to here (given it might incriminate me), as I carried a piece of paper that said the bike was only capable of doing 40kmph. This is the speed I’m most comfortable doing, but from here-on I’ll need to take extra care to ensure I either bypass the freeways or go somewhat faster, which isn’t practical over any distance.

Still, the police were nice enough about it and I didn’t argue. Budapest, with Buda on one side of the Danube and Pest on the other is well laid out with orderly traffic. It’s nice not to endure the insanity on the roads in many of the countries further east. But it’s still always with some trepidation that I approach major cities as I know how hard it will be to stop at lights, find street signs while watching the traffic and at the same time try to keep Effie’s engine running.

Andras, a Hungarian I’d met some weeks ago in Sofia contacted a few people who might be interested in seeing the bike. As a result, the Transportation Museum arranged for a press conference to be held and it was a great surprise as I rode up through City Park to the entrance to be greeted by a crowd of motorcyclists, museum staff, journalists and other media.

With Andras translating, I gave a short talk about my journey & then bike, then was presented with a splendid commemoration medallion and certificate by Janos the organizer and museologist. This was followed by press interviews and questions. Later I was given a personal tour of this wonderful museum featuring an impressive collection of historic motorcycles, cars, trains and other forms of transportation. Special thanks to Andras and Janos and to all those who took the time to come along and welcome me to their city. Here is an article & short excerpt from one of the many interviews:



It’s encouraging to know so many people are cheering me on. It hasn’t been all beer and skittles, just as life isn’t and there’s some experiences that don’t make it to these pages. But one thing remains constant and that’s the fact that regardless of where I am, most people I meet are fantastic. Rich or poor, they are welcoming and genuinely keen to help make my journey just that little bit easier. However they express their support, it’s this that enriches the experience.

Perhaps it’s the architecture, the wide avenues, the sense of history, but there’s something about European cities that’s fascinating to those of us from the other side of the world. Andras gave Lynne & I a tour of his beautiful city & we learned much of the country’s history. It’s one place I feel deserves more time and a return visit is definitely warranted.

By the week’s end I was on the road again, Lynne getting ready to go in one direction and me in another. I have to say I’m enjoying the shorter distances between countries and no doubt Effie is too.

At the Slovakian border there wasn’t even anyone there to wave me through,  such a strange feeling! A change of scenery with rolling hills made for a pleasant ride. The new spark plugs I had put in only a short time ago weren’t up to the job and Effie began running rough again. A reminder that when this journey comes to an end in a few weeks time I’ll need to look at stripping her down to do some serious work, especially as I’m considering riding her home.

Both of us are looking a little worse for wear, but given the distance we’ve covered I reckon we’ve done okay. Now, how do I ask for spare parts in Slovakian again?

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