Thursday 20th July - Romanian tyres for Miss Panda

Once again, we are blitzing through Europe! Quite a shame we couldn't explore Budapest but this isn't that sort of trip. We've signed up for 70% driving and 30% sightseeing. The aim of the game is to get this Panda and her four Aussies to Mongolia!

We checked out of our apartment, all very well rested. The best sleep we've had since the start of the trip. Fortunately, nothing had been taken from our car during the night. We've worked out a system for drying our clothes. We shove our wet things in a laundry bag and put it on the roof rack behind the light bar. The wind force we get on the highways dries the clothes in no time. Fantastic system!

We passed a Scottish rally team on the highway as we were leaving Busapest. They had a huge Scottish flag waving from the back window of their car. Once again, for what feels like millionth time we filled up on petrol. Miss Panda is always up for a drink. Our biggest bill on this trip will be petrol for sure, but we knew that coming into it from teams who'd mentioned it in previous years.

We finally came up to the Romanian border. It was the first time we'd had a proper passport check. We waited in a line of cars and handed our passports in for a stamp. Then we purchased a vignette which was electronic this time around. There's cameras everywhere on the highway and they pin you if your plate isn't registered. Once again, Miss Panda was thirsty. We pulled into a town called Timisoara to fill her up. Our plan was to get suspension and tyres done in Romania because the dollar is insanely good here. You live like kings and queens. Unfortunately though suspension has proven to still be really expensive. We're not too sure if we'll be able to get it done which is worrying. The cheapest we could find was upwards of 900 euro. Tyres we could do though which was lucky. A helpful attendant at the servo told us of a tyre place down the road so we drove there in the hope of getting steel rims and off road tyres. It was quite amazing that we drove in and they came over and started working on the tyres straight away. A bloke who was there with his motorbike ended up translating for us as the old skinny man who ended up doing the tyres didn't speak a scrap of English. We didn't want our factory spare so gladly sold it to the guys there for 50 lei which would pay for a bit of our dinner.

Onward we drove to a tiny town called Hunedoara where amazingly we passed another team. We did a quick detour to a place called Dedeman which is their equivalent of Bunnings. We still really needed four stools for our desert camping escapades. We also needed a tarp for the sunny camping spots. The staff in there consistently told us "no English" but one lady gladly looked at photos on Pats phone and lead us over to the tarp section. Equipment in hand we managed to locate some space on the roof rack to shove the stools and went to go find our accommodation.

Hotel Heaven was our respite for the evening. The staff spoke barely any English but understood we'd made a booking for two seperate rooms. It was the first evening we'd had that didn't include a big drive after dinner. We were relaxed knowing we could eat a good meal then drive a few minutes to our beds. We managed to find an amazing restaurant called Rustic just down the road. It had an assortment of traditional food. James swears that he ate the "best bacon I've ever had in my life". We recorded a Facebook live video of our dishes, head over to our Team page to check it out. After two hours of talking about the food we were eating and the town we were in we realised our neighbours at the restaurant spoke English. James had been talking about drinking some local whisky when the bloke sitting next to him cut in, "you can try Palinca". We got into a convo telling them about our trip, and they explained they were there for the young woman's wedding who was sitting with them. "She is very, very stressed" they said. They live in the U.K. but are originally from Romania. Four Palinca shots later we were feeling a little more relaxed. They'd given three of the shots to us on the house, legends! A two minute drive later and we were back at Hotel Heaven for a good nights sleep.

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