Having spent a little time with the family and topping up the bank balance, we are on the road again. We set off from Spain a few days ago, with the intention of blasting through France and Italy in as little time as possible and starting this new trip in Slovenia, where I am sitting writing this.
Having driven through France in one day, and sleeping in an Italian service station, we decided to take our time a little more, and stop about half way through Italy, somewhere near Lake Garda, for the night, before pushing eastward. We eventually found an idyllic little spot on the shores of Lake Idro, a much quieter lake than the larger Garda.
I had only just cast my fishing rod out when an almighty crack of thunder from behind the mountains jolted us out of our skin. I ran to get my camera but unfortunately did not manage to time a lightning shot correctly despite plenty of attempts. We eventually had to climb in the back of the car for shelter, but later on as the storm was passing and the sun had just set, I managed to snap this HDR image across the lake, it hasn’t been edited beyond merging the different apertured photographs:
The next day we headed into Slovenia for the trip to really begin. First stop was Lake Bled, nothing much to write about beyond saying that it is absolutely stunning. After a night here, walking and exploring the area and a similar night at the nearby Bohinj, we headed across to Ljubljana.
Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana is beautiful, lovely architecture and bucket loads of personality, mostly from the graffiti and the tradition that locals have of padlocking any monument:
Apart from watching a tramp try to fit his whole hand up his bum at local traffic, the highlight was definitely Metelkova. Originally an old army barracks, when it was left, squatters moved in and have stayed ever since, but that has now developed and Metelkova is now a city centre, free living, hippy commune, complete with some of the best nightlife in eastern Europe. We only stayed for a couple and it was just warming up, but the creativity and atmosphere of the place made me want to move in, or at least bring my land rover round to be ‘decorated’.
Slovenia being tiny we had seen all that we particularly wanted to after three days and we are eager to get across to Romania, so it’s on to Hungary tomorrow where I will continue this post.
First day in Hungary we headed to a place we’d never heard of, but is interesting, if nothing else as its Europe’s largest body of still water; Lake Balaton. As the first day was a long drive from Slovenia, we stopped as soon as we got to the lake to stop for a much needed rest. However, the next day as we carried on around the lake (a drive which took us nearly four hours), we saw the first thing on this trip to make us realise “we’re not in Kansas any more”. At first glance from the car it looked like a scene from Full Metal Jacket, when we stopped those fears were realised. From what we pieced together, what had happened was that one homeless/alcoholic/druggie/mentalist had taken a strong dislike too another homeless/alcoholic/druggie/mentalist and decided to “damage him”. As we passed them, one was bleeding profusely from his head wound in the arms of his friend, the other on the war-path (shirt undone, bottle in one hand) intimidating anyone who dared to try and help. When we passed again twenty minutes later there was no sign of either of them beyond the large blood stain on the pavement.
That kind of thing could happen anywhere.. and decided to chalk that up to that fact, besides, the rest of Hungary beyond being incredibly “rural” was not at all intimidating. After the four hour drive around the lake we carried on towards Budapest, welcomed by a rather large gentlemen, driving completely starkers. At first we thought his belly was simply covering his skimpy underwear, and until he raised his second hand I thought it was his fist I was looking at. I can only hope it was his daughter in the back seat. We arrived at the campsite in glorious sunshine and thirty-eight degree heat, swiftly followed by a deafeningly loud crack of thunder overhead which was then followed by torrential downpours. We had just set the Caranex up, we stood in it for shelter, which only worked to a certain extent, as within around five minutes we were up to our ankles in muddy rain water (Ross in his soggy boxers, making do with a metal pipe for a piss tube).
Budapest the next day was quite different, sweltering heat, more sex shops than supermarkets. We saw the sights and unfortunately I would sound like a guidebook if I said much more than that, although I would recommend evening drinking at the Akuarium club near the basilica.