It is sad to leave the whole gang from Slovakia, but we must move on with the show. We started out from Takaj about 2 pm headed south to Budapest under the threatening skies. We planned to take the smaller roads and abandon them for the freeway if the weather turned for the worse.
Today we had the heaviest rain we have ever seen (even in a car). In fact we could not see the rain was hitting the shields so hard, all the cars had 4 way flashers and were going about 30 km / hr. It was bucketing, lightening, and with intermittent wind gusts blowing us sideways. We finally found an overpass to hide under (even cars were hiding) until the worst passed. We survived dry under the suits and in all the luggage! We had a few more small showers, but arrived to Bikercamp Budapest in the dry. Luckily this city is very easy to get in and out of and the traffic is never very bad.
We were met by the lovely owner Susan and our friend Trevor from Calgary, who had been there since yesterday. We met him in Argentina in 2014 and he will be traveling with us to Kuala Lumpur.
He had already been down town and knew the way to the subway and we headed out. The action here on a Saturday night is unbelievable. The bars and restaurants were packed. There were numerous drunken foreigners on stag holidays.
We made a stop at the famous Szimpla Kert Ruin bar for some beers and open mike night.
“Ruin bars are all the rage in Budapest and have been around for 10 years since the founding of Szimpla Kert, the mecca of all ruin bars. These bars are built in Budapest’s old District VII neighborhood (the old Jewish quarter) in the ruins of abandoned buildings, stores, or lots.”
The night was dry and we managed to pack up before the rain started again. We waited it out inside until 11, but finally had to leave. We are headed south to Serbia and had heavy rain for much of the day. Despite this we stayed on the small roads.
When we were riding towards a particularly dark cloud at 1 pm we found a great stop for another fish soup and missed much of the worst of the rain. As we approached the Serbian border the rain stopped and the sun came out for the 15 minute line up. There was a quick Schengen/EU exit stamp from Hungary and a very quick passport stamp into Serbia. They did not ask for bike papers or green cards.
Now we had a 347 km drive to just past Novi Sad.
This hotel was a bit Faulty towers like, but in the end turned out fine. The owner is Turkish and with little English, but he did give us several rounds of welcome shots of Slivovitz, which is a plum brandy. In the end we had a good night and slept well.
Today the weather is overcast, but with very high clouds. We had a 354 km ride to near to the Bulgarian border via the smaller roads and a detour to see the Golubac fortress. Most of the road surface today was patched patches and there were a lot of tunnels along the Danube River.
Golubac ” fortress, which was most likely built during the 14th century, is split into three compounds which were built in stages. Prior to its construction it was the site of a Roman settlement. During the Middle Ages , it became the object of many battles, especially between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary. It changed hands repeatedly, passing between Turks, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Serbs, and Austrians until 1867, when it was turned over to Serbia. ”
This route after the fortress is then another 50 km along the banks of the Danube and with the sun shining it was 24 degrees.
We then turned south thru the park to end up in the small town of Zajecar. There is nothing to see here it is just a good spot to stop for the day and start out tomorrow for the Bulgarian border and route thru the mountains. The hotel had awesome underground parking and was very simple, but clean and comfortable.
The sun is finally out today but cooler at 17 degrees for the 223 km day to Sofia.
The ride to the border is a quick 11 km at Vrska Cuka. Here we were waved thru to park at the gate. We were the only ones there, but still waited 10 min. Finally a sour looking woman came out and asked for our passports. She checked our photos, walked backed to her office, and returned with them in a few minutes. No smile at all or small talk, but she did say “have a nice trip” in a grouchy voice when she handed the documents back.
You then ride a few hundred meters to the Bulgarian crossing where they are all smiles and very friendly. They also spoke English well. The agent stamped us back into the EU, (Bulgaria is not in the Schengen zone). He then asked to see our route on the GPS to check it went thru Borovitsa where “there are some very nice rocks”.
The initial road surface was pretty pot rolled and passed thru some tiny and poor looking villages.
Borovista did have an amazing collection of rock formations, but hiking right now is not in the cards.
There is a fair amount of traffic after Prevala as there is only one road here. There was a disturbing number of scantily clad women standing in the byways on the road into Sofia. One even gave us quite a show dancing around in a very short skirt.
Hitting the city we arrived on the opposite side to our destination and the GPS wanted to go straight thru town, but luckily we got on the ring road and around in a much faster time.
We arrived to the same hostel we stayed at last year and Assen from Bumot arranged for us. It is just next door to the Bumot factory. He has planned our 3 day tour to some of his favorite places in Bulgaria. We will have the day off tomorrow to rest, sort out our stuff, and be tourists. Dan also noted today that after 5 years his Rich’s seat had a small seam failure. Well of course Assen says there is a custom motorcycle seat shop in the same warehouse and Bumot. The guy had already taken the seat apart just after 530 pm when we dropped it off and found that the pan was cracked too. He said he would fix it all and have it ready by 10 am the next day and for only 25 E.
Welcome drink since its after 6!!
Since we had the day off today to finally take some time to sort out the gear better and finish a few odd jobs we had rented an apartment with a garage for not much more than the hostel last night. We made a detour to Decathlon so Trevor could pick up a few last minute items (silk sac, sunglasses as he sat on his yesterday, and a warmer shirt). We were very happy to have a huge private garage where we could spread out all our stuff and work on 3 bikes at once considering it poured rain for about 3 hours. We added some heat shield under our seats, installed the Beemer buddies on the grips, cleaned and lubed the chains, and installed some 3M on the panniers to offer some protection for our sticker collection. Now we are ready for the “3 day road trip”.