We have moved from the Asian /European border in Russia, to the centre of Europe as claimed by Polotsk in Belarus, and we have now crossed from Hungary to Slovenia, moving ever closer to Paris.
The car is running well after getting a new water pump sent to Budapest by the President of the German Mustang club Ralf Wurm, obviously a Mustang lover and who will perhaps meet us in the trip with Tilly’s big brother, a white ’69 Shelby GT500.
A very skilled group of rally mechanics installed the pump in an industrial area in Budapest. I’m getting very used to these salubrious places and maybe at home wil now set up a lumpy, dusty couch in the garage just so that I can smell those petrol fumes and feel at home.
Budapest was a beautiful city. Full of life and history, begun in 896 by seven Magyar tribes. They were skilled horseman and Hungary is one of the oldest countries in Europe. The Hungarian language is the direct descendant of the language spoken by the Huns and is not an Indo European language. It has two related languages in Europe, Finnish and Estonian. That’s obviously why I found it a little difficult to understand!! We will definitely come back.
Yesterday was a beautiful driving day. Moving from Hungary into Slovenia, the landscape changes yet again into oak forests, geranium flower boxes, brick and mortar houses, established gardens and fences, no stray dogs and good roads. A nice change from the rutted and bumpy roads in Russia and Belarus.
And most important of all, it was fantastic to drive through the arch at the end of the day instead of being on a tow truck. Tilly ran really well and her new water pump worked like a dream. Gunther of course drove like a champion. We have now gone down to 35th out of 57 in the classic section which is a blow for the old ego. At this stage though one has to be glad that we are still driving and not in a workshop getting filthy fingernails and carbon monoxide poisoning. It has been a big team across many countries that have kept us here. We therefore are very grateful! And to tell you the truth, it’s not as stressful down the back. Being in the first few cars must be exhausting and creates a lot of pressure to perform. (Now does that sound convincing enough?)
Day 31. Maribor to Ljubljana 370 kms
Today was bloody long! 6 time trials and all on small mountainous roads. In actual fact, we were only 100kms away from Ljubljana when we set off this morning and spent the day like a dog circling to find a comfy sleeping position. They were mostly on Tarmac which was good for our road tyres and I enjoyed not slipping all over the road. I never thought I’d say that I liked going fast over a Tarmac road. Apparently you can adapt to anything, everything is relative.
The scenery was really beautiful, with rolling hills, forests and small villages full of flowers and old buildings. By the last time trial though I was tired and very grumpy, telling Gunther that it was about time he drove like the Grandpa that he is. Everyone had had enough of he competitive stages and we were wondering why on earth they had 6 time trials in one day.
We reached beginning of the last time trial and there was a line of cars. After about 5 minutes, someone said there had been an accident and a fire truck and an ambulance were called. This was a shock to us all because we are becoming quite a close knit group and it is awful to think that someone may be hurt. At this stage, although we have had some cars roll or go into ditches, no one has been hurt at all.
We then had to all make way for the ambulance to pass and the trial was cancelled. It was very sobering to watch the ambulance wind down the hill. We all followed in convoy into Ljubljana.
At his stage we still don’t know the full story. Only that one of the old open topped cars came off the road. You can imagine the rumors or the ‘Bullshit Bulletin’ as we call it. I’ll keep you posted. Only 5 days to go!