The Balaton life

It’s been a month since I posted on here but that’s me keeping to my previous post’s promise that I’m here to take some R&R here at Lake Balaton, in Hungary. And that I did, though there’s been plenty of work and I’m pleased to say my running has received some very serious attention – I managed more than 240km in July alone, averaging 10km a day, six days a week, and making sure the 10k’s come in ideally under 50 mins, but given the heat, in most cases around the 54min mark. I’m well pleased with that.

Olli and I also had some serious bonding time, and he’s thoroughly loving the Balaton visit again. He is now better known in the campsite than me – he’s made a lot or friends.
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I’ve also had plenty of trials with my DJI Spark, a drone which I had my eye on for some time, and made the swift decision during an unplanned trip to Sofia to get at Munich airport. I’m well pleased I did, and shout-out to Till Carlos (and thanks for the visit!) who pushed my decision on that purchase over the edge. He’s patiently waiting for my first video, but I’m still learning the ropes with the drone. And I’m not ready to upgrade my WordPress plan just for the preview videos!

The bike + trailer I got has turned out one of my best buys ever. I’ve now done more than 550km in it and it’s superb to transport Olli over long distances, or do the shopping (or to Olli’s dismay, sometimes both). I’m up north now near where Edd and family is staying and could do a 20km there / 20km back trip to them without much fuss. It’s fantastic. The little electric engine in there just gives me that bit of extra assistance with the trolley – you still have to peddle hard – but it helps and I’m well pleased with it.

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The buggy is also a great basket for Olli if I’m stopping somewhere where he can’t come in, and it’s well ventilated on all sides. Best of all, it folds totally flat and is quite light, so perfect for Rayquaza!

I’m staying at Balaton till end August when the work gets back to full swing and I’m kicking it off with a quick work trip to South Africa then, out of Budapest. Then I’ll route back to the UK via Italy again and will be UK based, but traveling out to Asia and Australia via air during October. Till then, the R&R continues, ideally!

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#IAmLucky #AlienInEurope

 

Bulgaria!

I’m way behind in my postings here…this is actually coming to you from Hungary!

After my short visit to Serbia I had to go to Bulgaria for some work related items which I won’t bore you with…it involved company registration and other legalities and I headed for Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second largest city and one of Europe’s best spots to be in should you be doing a tech start-up. Seriously. Incredible internet connectivity (everywhere, mostly free), great international and interesting crowd, superb places to eat and hang out and generally just an amazing place.

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If you ever get the opportunity to visit, you should, without hesitation. English is widely spoken and things were generally really good value for money. For instance the hotel (yes, there was no campsite or motorhome parking – major business opportunity here!) was €40 a night, and it was a decent, 4 star hotel. (With exceptional service!). They allowed me to park Raquaza in their (open) parking area but made sure it’s within their security camera views. I had to stay an extra evening but the hotel was sold out, and they had no problem with letting me sleep in the motorhome, in their car park, which was really nice of them.

They still use a local currency, the leva, but it’s pegged to the Euro at a fixed rate and most places accept Euro’s.

As mentioned I had to do a few company related things here, and one involved a contract where my name had to be put in the Cyrillic form. Here it is:

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That reads Riaan Johan van Schoor. I really like the thing on the U of the Johan part!

Whilst in Plovdiv I made use of the Bizlabs co-working space, where you can rent a desk for the day, week or month at exceptionally good rates. Shout-out to them for being super hosts and offering a great working environment. I can recommend them highly!

Driving there and back was a breeze, good highway and no major delays at the borders, which I believe was lucky as clearly it can get very busy there.

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Yep, an interesting crowd…this was at the very hip Fargo bar. Awesome place.

After this short visit I headed back to Belgrade for some work with the team there, and then I made my way to Hungary, where I’m now, and will stay for at least 2 months. I’ll post about that in the next update.

A link to a photo album with more photos of Plovdiv can be found here.

Zagreb to Belgrade

After the great stopover in Zagreb, I headed for Belgrade in Serbia. We (Agentivity) have our developers based there and I looked forward to spending some time with the guys there.

Whilst the routing suggested a relatively short drive, the border crossing from Croatia to Serbia can be a bit longer than the usual “drive-through” since Serbia is not part of the EU (yet). Especially the trucks were queing for literally kilometers as one approaches the border, which made me wonder how long it will take for me to cross.

But it was a relatively painless, about 30 minute wait sort of thing with not too many questions asked, apart from a “are you sure you’re only 1 person in that motorhome”, which was asked about 10 times. However, much to my surprise, they did not inspect the inside of the motorhome at all! (However on the Serbia to Bulgaria crossing coming up next, they did indeed insist on at least seeing the inside.)

Serbia – who would have thought I’d ever be touring here – has a vibe about it which is very inspiring. The old next to new is visible everywhere and you can see a nation ready to do what it takes. At the same time there is a lot of sceptisism about what people from other countries might be willing to pay for….for instance, the campsite I stayed at (Camp Dunav) has the most breathtaking views of the Danube. I pointed this out to the campsite owner and told him they should trim down the trees and bushes that are growing wild at the edge of the site to expose that absolutely incredible view, and if it was me, I’d built a deck out there and serve sunset drinks! But he did not think that would add much value to the offering and simply shrugged his shoulders.

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It’s a decent campsite though with free, OKish wifi and average bathrooms. Very friendly service and combined with the view at only EUR13 a night, a bargain.

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It’s outside the city and though there is a bus, I decided to bike it (with Olli in the buggy) to Donogh, who works with us at Agentivity and who lives in Belgrade. He warned me it was quite a cycle…about 20 KM and I had to cross a major bridge (3 lane highway effectively) and then navigate roads where in most places, there is no cycle lane. So yes, there I was cycling on Serbian highways with Olli in the back! Not to be repeated. But I did get plenty of people pointing and some even driving along on their motorbikes / mopeds chatting and finding my bike setup with Olli in it, absolutely super.

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From Serbia I undertook a trip to Bulgaria to establish our European business there (as opposed to being in Spain) and sort out a few administrative tasks to ensure that is up and running. That saw me in Plovdiv, Bulgaria – I’ll write about that in the next update.