The journey kicks back with the help of Anna and Leon, our filmmakers! We leave from Venice heading toward Hungary. We stop by in Tarvisio to get a car lift by Alessandra, Anna’s sister. The wonderful peaks of the Alps are still snowy, especially the Mangart.
At dawn, we take a break at Fusine’s lakes, to kiss the water: What a dream!
I’ve been told that these same waters flows into the Drava, that’s a tributary of the Danube: I could’t check this information yet, but it would be great.
Arriving in Budapest, we experience our first setback: The clutch breaks down!
The infinite kindness of our friends Laszlo, Joseph and Imre comes to our help, in the form of a very fast tow truck. Then, hips of help, fondness and tools.
Last winter, Clodia took a rest in the square facing Laszlo factory. She’s still there, nearly ready, although a little wet for a few water seepages.
For the first time in my life, I sleep embraced to the front fender of an old Pannonia, an historical motorbike that Laszlo is passionately restauring. Laszlo kindly offered us to stay in his workshop offices, just beside the place where Clodia was stored.
We’re also close to another Nordic boat (Swedish to be precise),“Bojan”, that had seen the first encounter with our hungarian friends last year in Vienna.
I spent three days rubbing off mildews and stains from Clodia: Linen oil, lots of passion and we’re now ready to set off! Laszlo, Joseph and Imre, wonderful as usual, help us in taking Clodia to the river for the new launch. A real emotion!
It’s very warm (about 32°C) and we can see someone swimming.
We meet some proud members of the “river madmen club”. Peter has designed and built a magnificent catamaran, used to carry gorgeous women, friends and some fellow crazy guy like me.
Gyurma has bound together two canoes and a few logs recovered from the Danube, to build another bizarre and very loud catamaran.
Carpets, abat-jours, speakers and three nice looking girls aboard. That’s his life: For 20 euros he takes people along the river and give them a good time.
Great friends offer us excellent dinners, in a show of light that I won’t forget so soon. Many boats come close and spontaneously cheer up. We’re enraptured by such sincere beauty, and by the Danube that’s here alive and full of life.
Aggi, Imre’s wife, tells us that the river is not yet respected, since many people still litter their rubbish in the water. She says that the culture of respect is missing.
In my opinion, after all the Danube seems pretty clean: Even if the fishes may not be as many as they were, in the Budapest harbour you can see big trouts swimming. And trouts are indicators of clean waters.
Plastic and rudeness are omnipresent plagues. Such as the usual “Sunday Rambo” who passes next to Clodia at full speed, making her wobbling quite a bit.
One of my six oars falls into the river and is lost while I was sleeping. The first loss after 2.600 km, but it’s very painful.
Then, gifts, bread from Gyurma, sun and dreams. Lots of work to collect people’s words and try to give some help back, after all that generosity.
Margherita and her beautiful daughters welcome us with smiles and kindness. Our days are full, I can’t tell you everything.
Now we’re in Budapest, in the Wiking Yacht Club (for a change), moored nex to a very old Danube ship owned by George, a nice restaurateur. Around us, we see the usual river life, that in Italy we’re missing. So many young people aboard canoes an kayaks, statuesque girls.
Yesterday we’ve been joined by two other madmen. James Thomas is travelling by foot from Scotland to New Zealand to raise funds for Unicef, while Stephan Meurisch is walking from Munich to the Tibet with no money at all. Fantastic guys that will deserve more room.
James will also come aboard with me for a while. For how long? We don’t know.
We’re now visiting Budapest, the pearl of the Danube. I’m on an island that holds an old harbour and lots of young creative enterprises.
A real life neverland.