Budapest is getting more and more famous among tourists lately. It’s not a surprise: historical buildings and sights, noted thermal baths, stirring nightlife, and savory cousin accompanied with affordable prices await the visitors here. This article aims to introduce the countryside of Hungary, more precisely the area of Lake Balaton. During summer many foreigners come to dip in the tepid water and to eat some lángos (a traditional Hungarian flatbread), but they might not know winter can be as well magical here.
Despite that summer is far from now, we packed our things and took our way to Lake Balaton. Our camera gear was not as heavy as it is usually, we only took few objectives, the Mavic pro, and the compact Fuji X-T2 with us. Nothing more needed anyway.
After the one and a half hour long ride in the extremely spacious & comfy VW T6 Bulli, we arrived in Csopak. This place is a great stop if you want to taste traditional dishes in not ordinary form and quality. We had lunch at Víg Molnár Csárda. I like this place even from the outside, the mill-wheel next to the entrance recalls authentic rural vibes. The interior fits the concept, there are jars and handmade crockeries on the walls and a beehive oven sheds the warmth. I snugged right next to it with a glass of wine and had no intention to leave until our orders were out and ready to eat. The dishes were excellent both in look and taste, and so does the service! I suggest tasting one of the Fisherman’s soup, and the corn-coated cottage cheese dumplings is definitely a must try! :)
Our next stop was Köveskál, which is a little village in the heart of the Káli-medence. We put up at Káli Art Inn which is a lovely property including a sauna and a bio-lake, an outdoor pool, a shed with a fireplace and comfy armchairs in it, plus several differently designed apartments. My favorite is the white room, right above the shed. There are lace and flower decorations, knitted rugs and pillows everywhere. But the best is a huge bathtub in the corner separated with a flimsy purdah. When an engaged couple comes, this one is for the bride, and the blue room — which is right in front of it just about few steps away — is for the groom. And after the wedding ceremony, they can figure out which room they want to share… :)
The surrounding territory is worth to explore. For example, you can climb up the Black-mountain top, discover the lakes and ruins around, or the stone-sea where you can find prints of long-extinct animals on the rocks. We took our way to lake Korny where horses and donkeys were grazing afield. On the top of a little mound, four stone men were standing still. These sculptures are the guardians of this land.
The next destination was Szigliget, where there is a huge castle standing on a hill for 750 years. We were roaming around, then just stopped to amaze the panoramic view.
In the evening we got to Siófok which might sound familiar to some of you. This place is crowded during summer – people from everywhere around the world come to have fun or to chill a bit. Now this time of the year this place was so tranquil. I enjoyed walking on the coast, watching the seagulls and ducks on the lake without any disturbing noise in the background. Only the sounds of nature surrounded us.
We spent the night at Mala Garden Hotel, which is famous for its unique far-eastern design. Statues of Buddha, mandalas on the walls, authentic Thai massage and eastern specialties on the menu await the guests here. These exotic vibes truly make you believe that you are far away from home. Even if you are aware, that instead of the Indian Ocean, only lake Balaton is waving in front of your balcony.
The next day we headed to Balatonlelle to visit the BL Yacht club where we got on board and sailed out from the harbor. Though the weather was chilly, we still enjoyed our voyage on the lake. There was no other boat near and far, except ours. I don’t know how you feel about sailing, but for me personally, it’s like letting go all of my current problems set aside on the shore.
The last stop is on our list was at Balatonvilágos. Lavender Terrace is a place where a man can eat exceptional steak from 100% Hungarian beef. If you are fond of such things, it’s a place you should visit. If you may not, no worries. There are several options to choose among, including different types of pizzas with Italian ingredients, and sugar/gluten free cakes besides that.
I didn’t know what to expect from Lake Balaton during the off-season. In the end, it was a nice surprise. Compared to the teeming summer period, this time of the year it is refreshingly calm. Irrespectively of the season, the surroundings are beautiful, more and more restaurants are open all year round, not to mention the hotels which can guarantee a tranquil relaxation and rest. A sunny wintery day is perfect for long walks along the shore, or for hiking the ambient hills. The snow-covered scenery by the lake couldn’t be more magical.
Even though we arrived home, our little road trip didn’t come to an end. In Budapest, there is a place called Paletta, which recalls the atmosphere and vibes of the Balaton. The interior design and the dishes are inspired by that region, and the wine comes right from the owner’s vinery at Balatonboglár. I would suggest trying the bio-grape spritzer out and if you like pork, this place has specialties using every part of the animal. So if you have no time to visit the countryside, no worries, you can still taste the feeling. :)