Day 9. Route

The next day dawned bright and hot. Especially in my tent, precipitating an early start. We had quite a short day planned and so loafed about doing laundry and watching it inexplicably fail to dry laid out on the hot tarmac. Most of us had had wet laundry for most of the trip so far, no night had been dry enough for anything to get dried. Ian had taken to tucking clothes in his bungie net and flapping his way down the road, but I am not sure they stayed especially clean. When queried on this matter he agreed that cleanliness was not all that it might be, but they were dry and didn't smell.
Croatia definitely wasn't as nice as nice as Slovenia, and in one town we stopped in bullet holes in a wall near where we stopped were a reminder that until recently a war had been happening there. There were apparently 'no cameras' signs around which caused some worry when the less observant members of the team got theirs out.
We entered Hungary, and things got nicer again. I can't say what the difference was, it may be the atmosphere of the countries, or it might all be in my own imagination. I did like the way that some of the electricity pylons had integral nesting platforms for storks. After stopping at a petrol station Jeff was sent off in front with marvin, Jim and Ian (as I recall it) , whilst Jeremy, Mike and myself hung around a bit to get the chance to ride a little faster. Liam and Kevin hung around even longer, to get to ride even faster (squids). The road was pretty good until we turned off onto a more wiggly one which seemed to have been having trouble with the tar melting, a problem which had been addressed by sprinkling sand on the offending sections. It was pale coloured sand though, and actually quite well stuck down. Jeremy decided to ride this whole stretch with his indicators on. Eventually we tired of trying to tell him, obviously his observation needs work.
As we stopped at a junction just before the next big town (Bataszek) I noticed Liam arrive in my mirrors and pull in to wait for Kevin. at the next town we found the others waiting at a level crossing. Despite us waiting for quite a while for the train Kevin and Liam didn't turn up. I got a worried feeling, and checked my mobile phone, as I guessed, I had an unanswered call. I told Jim and Jeremy about this, and after the train had gone and we were through the crossing I returned the call. For some reason which I was not impressed with the others rode off without me as I did this.
The call confirmed my fears, Kevin had crashed on a corner with a weird cobbled bit before it (which I had noticed but not thought anything of other than curiosity about why) and the bike was a bit broken, though Kevin was fine. I rode off in pursuit of the others to tell them the news, but after 20 minutes of 100+ riding had failed to catch them I gave up, turned round and went back down the road to see if I could be any help with bike repairs. The trip back to the crash wasn't without incident, round one corner a truck came the other way in the ditch, just before turning over on its side, and round the corner I found the cause of the manouvre. Another truck was sliding to a halt with an upturned trailer which had covered the road with a thick layer of unidentified cereal crop. There was lots of traffic around, so I sort of rode through feeling like a bit of a cad, but not knowing what help I could be.
About a mile down the road I passed an ambulance, and attempted to send them back up the road in case the chap in the upside down truck was hurt. However, I failed. I just couldn't get through to them that I wasn't looking for my friends on the other motorbikes, but that in fact two trucks had crashed. I persuaded myself that if they were needed they would be sent that direction by someone who spoke Hungarian on the radio and carried on.
When I got there the bike was actually pretty much back together, with a pair of enthusiastic Huns doing most of the work. I used up all my colour matched gaffer tape putting the fairing back together. Liam and Kevin weren't sure they would be carrying on, and Kevin had remembered that you couldn't leave Hungary with a damaged vehicle without a form from the police saying that you hadn't been drunk and the insurance situation was in order. I therefore set off back the other direction (I had done about 75 miles extra by this point) and set course for Szeged.
I was a little surprised on the way down the Szeged road to find lay-bys and bus stops populated with scantily clad women. It appears that the intercontinental trucker need not worry about satiating the needs of the flesh in Hungary. Though by myself and thus at liberty to take up the offer I decided to press on. I arrived in Szeged and rang the others, getting directions to the hotel that they had found. The bikes were all parked out the front under the eyes of the 24 hour doormen, and so I went inside to rant and rave for a bit about their inconsiderateness. Feeling a little better we repaired to the hotel bar to decide what to do with ourselves. A display in the hotel informed us that we were on the path of totality, so we now knew that come what may we would be seeing the eclipse.
It had been noted that the streets of Szeged were thronged with beautiful women and so we decided that a restaurant in town was called for. Szeged was lovely. It was a beautiful warm evening, the eclipse was imminent, there were outdoor concerts happening and the air was pervaded by a sense that everybody was happy and meant well. I have felt the same thing in Edinburgh during the festival, but Edinburgh never boasted so many lissom lovelies. After a few miles of leching we decided we had better get some food. After being turned away from a rather full place recommended by a tourist information kiosk (do you see a vacant table for 8?) and rejecting the John Bull English Theme Pub out of hand we happened upon a place with an incredibly extensive menu (three different variants of Transylvanian mixed grill for example). I settled for the mixed grill without cocks comb, others had Goulash or something entirely different. We got a starter, main course, desert and plenty of beer for under a fiver. Szeged, it really is the tops.
Liam and Kevin had joined us in the restaurant about half way through the meal. They had found a place in the town near the crash, had a meal, had a think and decided to carry on with the initial plan. Back in the hotel room and a little worse for wear we all felt far too hot, as it was stifling. Marvin suggested ringing Iceland and leaving the phone off the hook to get a cool draft, and at one point tried sleeping with his head in the minibar. We ended up drinking everything in the minibar in a quest for liquid. The prices were remarkably cheap, and not just remarkably cheap for a minibar. The bottle of Hungarian champagne-analogue was only £1.40... Eventually we must have all passed out, because some time later I opened my eyes and it was daylight.

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