22 June 1980

Driving south, policemen and lake Balaton

We wake up at 8 after a good night's sleep and head out to visit the house where Cathy's father lived before emigrating to the United States. It's a modest house but in fairly good shape. Who knows what it looked like when he was here?

For dinner Cathy's family serves us some hearty boszcz, lots of proteins and vitamins to take us through the day. After lunch we bid farewell and head south, toward the border. No problem with Polish customs, all our stuff gets through no questions asked.

We are back in Czechoslovakia and this time we manage to get through without getting lost or running into Soviet military bases. Can't help but notice the innumerable monuments to Soviet military equipment that dot the road. Kind of eerie, anyway better than the other military we met when we transited the country northbound.

We reach Budapest in the late afternoon and start looking for a hotel, but prices are way too high for our budget, so we decide to drive on.

As we progress along the main highway we stop occasionally to look for a place to sleep. Some camping grounds are cheap enough but fully booked. We decide to drive on, maybe all the way to Italy! At this point two policemen stop us and start looking for trouble. They check our passports, Giallina's papers, our tires, everything is fine. Or almost fine: they find that the light of Giallina's rear plate is broken. They say we must pay a fine of 200 forints (about 10 official US dollars, there is almost no black market for currency here, the black rate is abut 30, only fifty percent higher). We could pay but their attitude is irritating and we decide to dispute the fine. What follows is an endless discussion, they are clearly trying to take advantage of us foreigners to pocket some cash. But we finally manage to tire them out and drive on.

It's pretty late when we reach lake Balaton and find a nice little hotel for 5 dollars per room! We are not sure exactly where we are, but the area is pleasant and well maintained. Balaton is the main resort region of Hungary and a destination for many tourists from the socialist brother countries. Our fleeting impression of Hungary is that the standard of living is higher than Poland.

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