Upwards to Balaton - Hungary
Balaton Lake is known as Hungarian Sea (Magyar Tender). It is, thanks to its position, quite truthful exaggeration. It is fresh-water lake, of course, and does nothing common with real sea. We recommend to take orientation map of local environs with. Whereever you make a stop, you reach a water-banks with business tourism (you find it everywhere). As far as the accommodation is concerned, you find it everywhere, but with bigger price-differences between hotels and smaller boarding houses or even in private houses (which is the cheapest, from CZK 300,- but without breakfast in this case).
Highway from Budapest leads you to the town of Siofok, to south part of the lake. Nevertheless, this side is less interesting and more „popular“. So, it would be better to transfer to north bank .You can reach it directly, in case, if you drive not from capital Budapest, but via Veszprem. On north bank, there are three main centres, such as: Balatonalmadi, Balatonfured and Badacsony. Balatonfured is the oldest, most famous and most luxurious resort. Rich Budapest citizens visited this place just in time period, when the words „holiday“ and „relax“ were not of common use (the town was named as „Balaton Riviera“). Except of bathing, vessel port, yacht-club and other places of interest, there are to be found here many restaurants of various price-stages, refreshment kiosks. During holiday saison, there is „high holiday life“ in operation. Moreover, you find here thermal spa (bath) looked for heart-ilnesses treatments, but also very pleasant for everybody who does not suffer from similar diseases. Provided you prefer more quiet places, you can drive to Badacsony or up to Szigliget, with marvellous castle on the top of a hill, and including wine-cellar. As far as these wine-cellars are concerned, you find many such places around Badacsony (famous with local wine sorts of Tramin and Ryzlink). Provided you continue along lake-banks, you could not miss the community of Tihany, placed on peninsula, clearly to be followed from all sides, thanks to two church-towers.
In past, Tihany was ancient fishing village and a seat of Benedictine Abbey at the same time, founded in 1055. Today, the place is captivated with its Baroque church, several preserved fisheries´ houses. Nevertheless, there is a wonderful view around whole Balaton Lake. Tihany is a local cult place - who did not visited this place, he was not visited Balaton at all. This fact is very well known to all souvenir, red pepper and Badacsony wine sellers´. It is quite surprising that all prices of these products are not higher as in some other places. Anyway, there is a big choice, and if you wish to buy something really typical, would you look for some of seller´s of local ceramics. The products are not expensive, and some plate, jug are manufacured according to ald people´s patterns, and, frankly speaking, all these subjects have its endless durability.
Further, we recommend you to drive from Balaton to not distant places, such as Keszthely and Heviz. In past, Keszthely was pleasant and calm small town with several coffee-houses. Today, there are to be found numerous caffees and restaurants for tourists, however, places for parking are missing. Local castle is very beautiful (it is carefully restaured) and will be attracive for everybody who like these objects. We recommend you also to visit marvellous park around.
Attention: do not forget to take your bathing drawers to Heviz! You find here marvellous, vast swimming pool containing thermal water (it rather carries above, thanks to its composition, so, that you can swim with great effort, but it is a small tax for your complete satisfaction). It is, more perfect to say, complex of several swimming pools under one roof (covering) and also of open air. It is a fact that Heviz spa was damaged with big fire several years ago. Nevertheless, today´s construction of its pavillons undergone stylistic reconstruction, reminding former wooden buildings. It belongs not only to the biggest (from Hungarian thermal spas) but also to most known spas. So, bathing here is a must of Balaton folklore, similarly as a visit of Tihany.
Anyway, Heviz reminds what was said at the beginning of this serial: Hungary is a paradise of water-lovers at any season period. It was a mention about Margit-Szigent in Budapest, and Miskolctapolca and Eger.
Nevertheless, we cannot forget most known Hungarian spa - Bukfurdo, located not far from the town Szombathely, in direction to Austrian border. This is a magnificent centre for presenting of your bathing drawers. You find here complex of swimming pools, not far distant of the town of Sarvar. In south direction of Balaton Lake, you can visit the town of Zalaegerszeg (named shortly as Zala). Near to the border with Croatia, you can visit another spa town – Harkany. Its thermal swimming pool is wonderful. You can continue further – to the town of Pecs. This town has a lot of historical magic. „Mecca of rheumatics“, so it is named Hajduszoboslo, in west direction from the town of Debrecen. Warm springs were discovered here even in 1925, at geological pierces, and shortly it was a new idea. So, if you will be interested, travelling around Debrecen, you could not miss also this location.
Nevertheless, the preceding paragraph is only a survey of most interesting thermal springs. Except of Heviz, it will be probably Buk, and most wonderful Miskolctapolca. Anyway, typical blue signs with white waves, giving information of spa (furdo) you find everywhere in Hungary - the first one immediately after crossing Slovak border, in small town of Mosonmagyarovar, and successively, we could follow further around the whole country. For a visitor who is not in a hurry, as he is not in chains of travel agency bus (it could happen eventually in your case), this plate means for you an opportunity for your free decision about one hour´ break.
It is (probably, we are of this opinion) also one of reasons, why we could now, in a period of holidays in various world destinations all over the world, not to forget on Hungary.
I believe that this short five-parts guide, inspired to weekend visit of Hungary, this, no doubt, interesting country. It is true that this country lost something of its pre-revolution shine, but still belongs to those most interesting, offered by Central Europe!
Text: Jan Chaloupka
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