On Tuesday 26 April, it was time to head to Hungary – the day started dry, but Dan put paid to that by putting his still-wet laundry out to dry on the back of the bike, ensuring rain within 20 minutes. With laundry packed back up, the rain continued well into Hungary, and the roads deteriorated noticeably. This was getting pretty wet, pretty cold, and frankly pretty miserable. Hungary, as Austria, require visitors to buy a “Vignette” or road tax in order to use the motorways. However, all the signs that Dan was noticing seemed to indicate that this was only required for vehicles over 3.5 tons, and whilst the DRZ certainly had a few bags on it, it was certainly still covered by a motorcycle licence. So, as Budapest approached, Dan risked it and headed for the motorway, which was a distinct improvement. As he did so, the weather brightened up – dragging with it our sodden adventurer’s spirits.
Beautiful though it is, and despite the improving weather, Budapest was to be Buda-bypassed as there are better ways to see the sights of any historic city than when tired and cold and on a 400cc trail bike with all you hold dear dangling from the corners. Continuing on the motorway further east, a campsite in a quiet Hungarian village awaited. Sadly, that campsite was closed, and actually manned preventing another cheeky off-season bargain. Garmin found another site a few miles further east, so Dan pulled off down 20 miles of bumpy little road with huge potholes in search of an open camp site, and after successfully dodging the occasional maniacally-swerving pothole-avoiding oncoming traffic, found himself at Thermal Camping – a haven for holidaying Germans in search of hot spring baths (www.turkevetermal.hu). Dan had arrived after reception had closed for the day, but the place was clearly open and doing a roaring trade. Our weary motorcyclist wasted no time in getting set up, including hanging out the laundry still wet from it’s Austrian handwash the previous evening. Dan’s friendly German neighbour (who actually was called Herman – you can’t make it up) saw him stood at the side of his bike eating bread and cheese off the seat and offered a table and chair. Apologising that he had no tea for his new British friend, Herman the German benefactor offered instead a chilled beer… The kindness didn’t end there, with the lending of a yellow rubber wrist band that would allow use of the hot spring baths in the morning – which sounded too good an offer to refuse. Besides, it was no imposition as Herman was planning to lie in in the morning and Dan would be off on the road by 8.30.
After an early morning dip in the hot springs before most of the German pensioners got there, followed by a warm shower to feel properly clean, Dan was packed up and ready to go. After a little money changing with Herman to pay his camping bill in local currency, Dan was ready to pay up and head for the Romanian border, less than fifty miles away.