|Fiddling the FIAT.|
It wasn't all that long ago, this border station was patrolled by AK 47 wielding, unsmiling Communist soldiers checking paperwork with a fine toothed comb.
We sometimes forget that travel as we know it in the West was difficult if not impossible without visa and carnet's and sometimes cash hidden in a passport here in the former Bloc.
|Country # 2|
Otherwise you ride right on thru, many of these countries now a part of the European Union, and as such have little or no interference crossing national boundaries.
THE young man at the cambio was telling me to forget taking the E 571 west, and to head east instead. There on a hilltop, I would find a glorious restored castle, where they spoke English and Hungarian.
Not to be missed he proudly stated. After that I should turn north on the E 67 to a small town called Betliar, just on the outskirts of Rosnava, where a great little pension (I stayed in Hostales, pension's hotel and Inns during my travels) would take my breath away.
It was surrounded by streams and mountains and the food was magnificent, he placed his fingertips to his mouth in the International gesture of fine dining!
FOR anyone that has ever travelled with me, especially on a motorbike, you know that the best laid plans are those you toss over your shoulder and ad lib!
This over night, 250km ride was going to prove that point with an exclamation mark or three!!!
|Lovely view from the ramparts.|
It was very busy with tourists, the parking lot was nearly full. I set the Divvie on her center stand just outside a small group of shops, asking the mid fifties attendant if she would keep an eye out for me.
|Notice the holes?|
|A cathedral in a castle.|
I opted for the tour, they offered no choice. Normally I despise tours, they move at the pace determined by the guide, you are restricted to taking photos and it is crowded.
This place was in fine shape, and had been inhabited as little as 150 years ago. Oil paintings of kings, queens, princes and princess' adorned the walls.
It was beautifully restored. Hard not to imagine the romance that these baroque castles exude.
These structures were inevitably placed on the highest piece of land dominating a lush valley or confluence of some river or three. This gave the villagers somewhere to plant their crops and still be able to retreat inside the fortress when threatened.
That was a fact of life in medieval Europe.
AFTER the tour had ended, and I wandered the gift shop for a few moments, I anxiously returned down the hill to my bike.
There was no problem she said, and in return for her help I purchased some small jewelry for my girls.
ONCE back on the bike, I headed the few miles west to the E 67 turnoff. I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated but the scope of my trip to Europe. How was I going to handle it personally, returning to my roots so to speak, dealing with the language barriers, the money, the security and in general, the bombardment of new experiences?
|Beautiful view west from my room.|
It was August 2008, and the world was in the grip of a major financial crisis. Throughout my travels, I always found a place to lay my head down, secure my bike, and eat heartily, without breaking the bank.
|Wouldn't be the last time I stayed here.|