What luck to be in Budapest for St. Stephen’s Day. There weren’t as many areas with kiosks and games and things like that which I had expected but the fireworks were great. There were three or four barges in the middle of the Danube staging the actual fireworks. We chose to watch the fireworks from Fisherman’s Bastion, on the Buda side, so that the Parliament building would be in the background. We watched from some steps with a railing to lean on. It was a great spot. There was no one in front of us at our height so nothing blocked our view. The fireworks started quietly with some blue lights appearing in the sky. They slowly moved around until they formed what looked like a deer. We overheard someone explaining that the white stag is important in Hungarian folklore. The lights then moved around until they formed a large cross. The cross rotated so that everyone could see it. It took us a while to figure out that the lights came from many drones in the sky. The fireworks display ended with the drones coming back and forming St. Stephen’s Crown. It doesn’t show as well in the video as the cross would have done but I wasn’t ready to record earlier. The crown rotated for a while and then the lights all just faded out. It was a nice ending. Here is a very short clip of St. Stephen’s crown.
The fireworks were 30 minutes long and were very well done. Having the Parliament building as a backdrop was great. Here is a link to a one-minute video that I took of the fireworks. This is the first video I ever tried with my phone. Click here for a one minute video of the fireworks.
Below is a picture that we took from the bridge walking back to our hotel. Notice the spires to the far right of the picture. That is where we were watching the fireworks. 10 days earlier we had stayed for one night, on our way to Canada, at a hotel right next to the tallest spire you can see in that area.
When we got back to the hotel, 36 hours after arriving in Budapest, our missing suitcase had appeared! The corner of the bag and one wheel were totally destroyed and the suitcase is now in the garbage in Hungary but the contents all made it safely.
We left the hotel in Budapest on Monday and arrived back at our second home currently on Lake Balaton. As you will see from the rest of this post this really hasn’t been Mike’s favourite week. While in Toronto we picked up various items that we needed for the RV. Mike spent one morning on the back of the RV fixing our Wi-Fi extender. We had had the part that we thought was malfunctioning sent to Toronto. Mike installed it and then mounted the antenna a little lower which means that it won’t get as good a signal, but maybe it won’t get abused by tree branches as much in future. The company that sold us this extender went out of business right after they shipped us the new part. Let’s hope it keeps working. Mike has also spent time installing a new tail-light on the Lincoln and a few other issues that needed resolving.
Wednesday evening, we had two visitors from South Africa. One of their businesses is selling drones. Mike and I had planned on buying a drone before we left on this European trip. We never actually got around to buying one, but of course we are now all interested again. Chris gave us some good insight into purchasing one. They has some marvelous close up footage on YouTube of whales in front of their house in South Africa. They are also looking at importing North American RVs. One major problem is that the vehicles need to be right hand drive and that isn’t a very common option among the RV manufacturers in the US or Canada. Chris wanted to see our slide-outs working so Mike pushed the close button to show him.
Disaster Wednesday evening:
Mike pushed the button, and NOTHING happened. We tried again for a few minutes and then gave up since we had visitors to entertain. One of my many fears has been problems with the slide-outs, which the Europeans know nothing about.
Thursday: As I write-this, it is the next morning and Mike is under the RV trying to figure out the problem with the slide-outs. It wasn’t something as simple as a blown fuse like we had hoped. I will keep adding updates to this post as the day or week goes on.
Mike has now found out that not only are the slide-outs not working, neither is the leveling system. They both use the same motor that seems to have quit working. With our slide-outs extended we can’t even move around the campground to get more water. Mike has removed the motor and found the name of the manufacturer. He managed to chat with a representative on the internet who told him that they had the motor in stock and that Mike should email their international shipping department to get it shipped to Europe. In the meantime, we had looked for someone locally to rebuild the motor so that we could at least move. We found a company 2 ½ hours away but when Mike called them they didn’t speak any English. Mike asked the campsite owner to help us with the call. The owner said that we should wait until the next morning, when a friend of his would be here. His friend might know if the motor could be repaired and where a closer place was. We left the motor with the owner and said that we would check back the next morning. Mike thinks that a new 7 lb. motor shouldn’t cost more than $100 or $200. Expedited shipping could be a concern.
It is Thursday evening and Mike still hasn’t heard back from the manufacturer, so he phoned them to impress the urgency on them. They are very nice and friendly, but it still takes multiple phone calls to get through to the right area. The person we need starts work at 6 am and has left for the day already. The company took all Mike’s info and left notes on the woman’s desk for first thing Friday morning. I asked Mike to get an actual price. This little broken 7 lb 12 Volt motor is over $1,000 Cdn before you add expedited international shipping. WOW. Regardless, it has to be paid because it is required urgently.
Friday: It is Friday morning and Mike has gone to talk to the owner of the campsite to see if his friend has arrived. The plan is for us to drive wherever we have to, if there is any chance that the motor can be, at least temporarily, repaired. Instead Mike came back to me carrying a repaired motor, YEAH. This friend had fixed the motor and wouldn’t accept a penny from us. Mike tried to tell him that if you do work you should get paid but he said, not here. We have invited him for a beer this evening but since he doesn’t speak English we are not sure that he will accept. We have decided to cancel the motor from the USA. If it had been the price we thought, we would have ordered it as a backup. At $1,000 or $2,000 we will wait until we have a problem again, hopefully not for a very long time. We are very happy ?.
It is now Friday afternoon and there is no rest for the wicked. If you remember, when we left Hungary two weeks ago my bike had stopped working. While we were in Canada Mike bought a whole bag full of spare parts that we might need to fix the bikes whenever they have a problem. Now that we don’t have to drive around looking for motor repair stores, Mike has decided to spend the time working on my bike. He started outside, but the heat was too much, and Mike brought both bikes inside to work on. Luckily, we have a very large living room in our RV. It is 13 feet or 4 metres wide. Mike now has my bicycle in pieces inside our air-conditioned RV. Hopefully this will be as successful as the Wi-Fi antenna and the motor where. When something doesn’t work on my bike, Mike does the same test on his bike to try and find out where the difference is. After working on the bikes for eight full hours mine is now working great. On Saturday we went out for a successful 22 km bike ride.
Sunday: We were planning on leaving for Slovenia today, but it is pouring rain, so we have decided to stay in and do laundry, write this article and investigate bike computer apps. We haven’t yet picked a place in Slovenia to aim for. The main campgrounds in eastern Slovenia are all resort campgrounds with multiple pools, multiple restaurants etc. Not what we like. We have found a couple of great websites that give the locations of farm houses and inns that have some facilities for a few motorhomes and tents. We will take a farmhouse over a resort or large campground any day. This way you get to meet and talk with the owners. You learn about the country and discover places to go and see and bike to. We usually pick a site and then phone them ahead of time. We always need to ask if they can accommodate a bus of our size. One of the locations that we found has a large welcome sign that you drive under to enter. Often, we don’t fit under these signs. We are now looking forward to seeing and learning about Slovenia.