Keszthelyi, Hungary, 17th July 2007

Actually, before I reached the castle in Ptuj I passed by some huge spas. With water parks, swimming pools, wellness centers, casinos, hotels, holiday apartments, hundreds and hundreds of parked cars, and I guess thousands of people. The Italians I noticed also have wellness centers, I guess we would call them health and fitness resorts. There are quite a number in this part of Slovenia. Many have thermal springs, one, if I remember right, produced 80 million litres of warm water daily.

The castle, when I got there, had some rather fine old ceramic stoves.


It also had some rather fine views from the windows.

There was a museum, of course, a rather good one.

Stand to attention there! Wake up!

I noticed a balloon in the background of one of the carnival photos and asked the curator about it. She gave me the address of Branko Ambrozic who was the local balloon pilot. I finally got to talk with him on the phone and we met later in the evening for a beer and a very pleasant chat.

If he ever comes to visit me he'll certainly be at home on this Slovenian keyboard. On this keyboard, in addition to all the regular characters, I can type ˇ^˛`˙ĐđłŁčČĆćߞ. Yes, they are all there on the keyboard, mostly accessed with the use of the alt key. And if Piero visits I can plug in my Italian keyboard.

There was a market in the morning.

After the market I tagged on to a group of Austrians - 45 of them - making a tour of the vinery, and fell in conversation with my neighbours at the table while we were tasting wine. They are from near Vienna, which could be on my route. I've got an invitation to call by!

I reached Gornja Radgona and parked by a sports centre at the edge of town. I guessed it would be quiet after everyone went home. It was not! Every 5 or 10 minutes during the whole of the night a car would drive past. Even in the middle of the night, 3 am, 4 am, 5 am. I have no idea where they were going, or why.

In the morning I picked up brochures and scouted around for a quieter parking spot for the next night. Having selected one I headed off to visit the museum at the town. They told me it was the most visited museum in Slovenia, and yes, it was well done, and interesting. Then, after lunch, to another castle to the north. The curator of the museum who told me about Branko also told me to visit here.

Yep, it was fine. But almost as good was that I noticed a poster for a vehicle collection and hunted it out. I found a bar in Adrijanci (it's in the extreme north east corner of Slovenia) and asked about the collection. Yes it's here says the bar owner, I'll show you around. But what about everyone here I said, they'll need drinks. Seems he thought I was offering drinks all round, when I though about it does seem that's what I said! No big deal, there weren't many people, and drinks are cheap here. It started me off on the right foot for a very pleasant evening.

Oh, the collection? The vehicles etc were provided by several local societies, he gave he building. The agricultural stuff was interesting, cars and motor bikes no great shakes.

Back in the bar the English neighbours had arrived, a young couple, Mike and Clare. Mike works in TV advertising in London, and tends to work hard and fast for a few weeks, then have a few weeks off. So he's a long distance commuter.

As I said, very pleasant evening. Apart from a few items, such as bottled beer, the landlord makes all his own drinks, distilling schnapps, sometimes aging it for 5 years to make cognac. I tried my best to sample most of it. Fortunately I'd already asked if I could park here for the night.......

In the morning I checked out a floating water mill. The current is actually quite fast.

Apart from bearings, all the working bits of the driving system were made of wood.

So here's the first photo from Hungary. The Festetcs castle at Keszthelyi. This town is situated on the edge of the 77 km long Lake Balaton, the largest freshwater lake in Europe, outside Scandinavia.

It's been scorching hot today. The temperature in the van got to 44C (about 112F) at one point. I've not done a lot. Visited a rather fine agricultural museum this morning, then gave up, and just wandered around, looked at the lake etc. I'll move tomorrow. I'll go back to last night's parking spot, in some scrub just outside town.

I wrote all the files to update my web site, then found out the files had saved incorrectly. I use Word 97 and some of the installation files on the CD were damaged and when I wrote the website files it was already much more of a hassle to include the pictures than usual. The macros don't work. I think I can manage but I'll have to change the way I hold the files on the site. I'm thinking about it. I'm thinking about it right now actually.

I'm also still having difficulties with Windows Vista. It won't let me do things I want to do. It tells me SendTo is not accessible, access is denied. What does it mean, access is denied? It's my computer, I've given myself all the administrator rights possible. Then when I try to find SendTo, or even send to, in the help files, there is nothing. I keep getting junk like that. Wastes a lot of time.

But at last I'm caught up my journey reports, email and wireless seem to work, and I've still got a few Euros in my pocket. Life is good.

Best regards

David Barker

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