As I mentioned a few posts ago Vittorio Orio recently embarked on an expedition covering 300 kilometers launching from Vienna and rowing all the way to Budapest. As luck would have it, blog reader and regular commenter Tamás Fehér lives in the Hungarian capitol of Budapest.
Tamás was there today when Vittorio made land and sends this report:
Mr. Vittorio Orio in the gondola and the tiny escort motorboat arrived all OK at the Budapest Hajogyar Wiking Yacht Club marina / port, spot on, at 11:31 local time and started to moor. A police motorboat came around 5 minutes later and told us the expedition needed to continue southwards, as the Italian embassy and media had been waiting for a full hour on the Piazza Batthyany pier on the river Danube, right across the vast building of the Hungarian Parliament.
(It appears none of the 4 Italian expedition members knew about this extension, neither did the marina-port staff or me. Suprise!)
Therefore Mr. Orio continued sculling. Luckily I was able to get on the little police speedboat, with another civilian - a marina staff member. Apparently nobody realized I am a nobody to this event in any official sense... 8-) The river police boat escorted the gondola on the 3 km extra journey to the obligatory event. Tried to take some photos on the river, let's hope they are usable. Suprisingly, there was no media on the water to make photos of the gondola with the backdrop of Budapest's riverbanks and architecture.
At the pontoon across the Parliament, the gondola moored and the Italian ambassador held a speech and there were TV interviews with Mr. Orio and journalist Mr. Cardona. The dignitaries then left about 40 minutes, the event was not overly pompous.
I went back to the Wiking Yacht Club marina in the car that pulled the gondola's transport semi-trailer.
The motorboat towed the gondola upriver, with Mr. Orio helming with remo at the poppa. Both vessels were individually lifted in slings by a 25 ton, towering big electric crane that was obviously oversized for the job. That job cost 2 x 85 euros, which price tag the Italian quartet found more fitting for the USA than Eastern Europe.
(Luckily I did not tell them about the marina's original calculation, which was 250 euros for the 11-meter gondola alone, based on the pay-by-lenght table! I sucessfully argued with the office lady to count only the 6 meter waterline.)
Vittorio Orio sends you warm regards, he remembers the 4-remier Albany expedition fondly and mentioned it several times during the media event.
Sincerely: Tamás Fehér from Hungary.
Many congratulations go out to Vittorio Orio and his staff for the successful completion of a long and impressive row.
Bravo Vittorio and thanks Tamás.