Shame on you Hungary!
A while ago I announced that one of the (few) advantages of Corona is that I can really work remotely for the first time in my life. Because I bought another camper a few months ago that did have a real shower and toilet, I (finally) decided to fulfill my long-term wish, namely I wanted to try to travel and work as a real 'Digital Nomad' at the same time. Below is a small report on how that really works.
Because I wasn't in the mood for French surliness but in schnitzels, I decided to drive to Austria first and conquer the Silvretta Hoch Alp Strasse. 32 hairpin bends and a nice flat parking lot with a beautiful view on top of the mountain where I took my first steps on the 'digital nomad' path. Because after 40 years of life my mother is still concerned about me, my parents came after 3 days to see if I was eating enough vegetables. When my parents arrived with their camper full of vegetables I had just lit the flame in my BBQ so let's just say the moment was… er… well timed. My parents continued on to Italy the next day and I continued on to the country that literally drove me to despair, West China, also known as Hungary. After the obligatory toll vignette (no longer a sticker but a receipt) was thrown at me after I had paid, I ended up in a friendly-looking country at first sight. Because I had my heart set on swimming in Lake Balaton, I ordered my GPS to navigate there. What I thought would be a trip of a few hours turned into a full day trip where I navigated between the potholes in the road and the millions of (mobile) speed cameras that also immediately checked your license plate whether you really had paid your toll vignette, and here I was thinking that I would need my vaccination passport…
After working a few days for MVB Medical at Lake Balaton I decided to drive towards the Hungarian Serbian border which would be one of my most difficult border crossings / travel days in my travel history. Arriving at the Hungarian Serbian border, a stern looking and uniformed lady approached me and indicated that I was 'zu gross' for the border, so too big. I kept the wisecrack that came to my mind to myself. When I indicated in German that I am not a truck but a 'wohnmobil' she nodded and let me continue in line. I have to admit, I was quite happy with my persuasion and thought I still had this game under control. After 1.5 hours of waiting in line (it's just the EU after all) I arrived at the customs booth where I was again stopped by another lady and her boss. They indicated that I was not allowed to cross the border and that I had to go to another border 65 km away. With the state of the roads in Hungary I was reaching an average speed of 33 kmph, so after 2 hours I arrived at the other border where I was met by a man (again in uniform) who waved his arms furiously that the border was closed for me. I tried again to indicate that I am not a truck but a camper but that did not help, he pulled the orange cones for me to the side and motioned for me to turn around, shrugged, spat in front of my car on the ground and walked back to his loft. I put the camper to the side and walked past the row of cars to ask where on earth I can leave the EU. He spat at my feet again (does anyone know if that's a polite welcome gesture in Hungary? ;-) and wrote the word "Tompa" on a well-thumbed piece of paper. After some research in the GPS I found that this is a border crossing, but it is a 3.5 hour drive further. For the geographers among us, I was on the side of Croatia and they sent me roughly to Romania. After I had finally arrived at the border, I chose the row for the trucks (after all, I was now refused 2x as a car). First I had to show my toll vignette, then the car was weighed and then a customs officer sent me to the customs office. This went well I thought. Once there, literally no one spoke English or German, and unfortunately I didn't speak Hungarian. About 40 international truck drivers were exchanging aromatherapy among each other in the customs office. After I had stood in line for another hour, the customs officer asked via the translation app on his phone: 'why are you here'? I almost answered out of frustration that I didn't know that myself, but I could still contain myself. Because I had no 'load' in the truck, there was no form to be found that was sufficient to send me across the border, so he shook his head and pointed to the steaming row of passenger cars behind him that I had to go there because now I was a car and not a truck. Because the Greek truck driver who looked like a combination of an Abrahams tank and a wrestler pushed me to the side and the customs officer went to help him, I stood in the row of cars. After I had also stood in line there for 1.5 hours, the customs officer shook his head and said: 'You are a truck, not a car, you have to get in the other row and pointed to the row of trucks I just came from. Because I had set my sights on the lustrum party of Enigmatry / Nova Lite in Novi Sad, I really wanted to cross the border but I started to wonder if I shouldn't drive to Hitler's Eagle's Nest to see if I reshape the siege of Budapest. Loosely translated, I was pretty pissed about this kind of nonsense. The border from Iran to Turkmenistan where I stood years ago was much easier than this I thought. After I reported back to the aromatherapy among the truck drivers, the customs officer was quite angry to see me again. When I was at his counter he called his colleague on the 'other end' and they exchanged some 'friendly' words among themselves. Apparently the customs officer decided they had enough of me and he said: I need 2 copies of your driver's license, registration certificate, and your passport. Of course I didn't have it with me, but his niece at the beginning of the border could make it for me, he gestured with his translation app. Because my car was in no man's land, I was allowed to walk to the copying room where the niece, while sighing and groaning, handed over the copies and I reported myself at the counter again. Apparently they were just as fed up with me as I was them because this time I didn't have to struggle with the hairy oil barrels, since I was allowed to go to his counter almost immediately. He slammed two stamps into a homemade 'cargo form' and snapped at me: 'next time, try other border'. I thought, next time I'll be crossing the border to Croatia, don't worry you will never see me back in this f#cking sh#thole of a country. Fortunately, crossing the border on the Serbian side only took 25 minutes. People wondered why on earth I was standing between the trucks, but as it is in a civilized country, they thought that was more my problem than theirs and after a quick inspection of the car I was allowed to drive into Serbia. Novi Sad, here I come!