Lake Balaton – Hungary

When in Budapest…stay in Budapest. 

After an awesome week in Budapest, we took the train down to Balatonfured for some old style revolutionary R&R, pun intended. As we pulled out of the Budapest train station, the view slowly shifted from grey blocks to vast green fields. We passed by small towns in the country side and slowly Lake Balaton’s glittering water unveiled itself in between the bushes along its shore. The 3 hour train ride dragged on to 4 because of a sudden mechanical failure that caused an abrupt stop, a prelude to the Soviet style holiday we were about to enjoy.

We had no idea what was going on until an angry guy with a motorbike helmet said he was going to walk to Balatonfured, 10kms away. We thought about stepping off too, but wheeling our luggage for 10km on a free way was not ideal.

Certainly the train was going to chug on; we hung out in the train. A lady on the seat across cracking sun flower seeds opened a new bag of them. She reclined into her seat and cracked on, while two young girls were deep into their smartphones giggling away. An old couple sitting behind us were definitely not going to walk, which added a degree of comfort. Whenever we asked for an update, the train attendant shrugged off the question. Occasionally, they’d try to work the train but the engine chugging grew fainter until it completely died.

An hour later,  a rescue train dragged us over to Balatonfured Station. According to Google Maps, our hotel was “5 minutes away” so we wheeled our luggage downhill until we reached the main street and noticed a myriad of tourist friendly shops, cafes and the only ice cream shop, which receives so much praise on Trip Advisor. The hotel door was easy to miss because it was tucked in between souvenir shops covered in hanging swimming tubes so we walked back and forth until we noticed 4 golden stars on a wall nearby, ‘Hotel Silverine Lake Resort’. 5 minutes stretched to 15 . A bike in the lobby caught our attention and boosted our confidence that this was a good choice out of a bad bunch of hotels. Little did we know, the bike was the only piece of furniture from the EARLY 90s. Beyond the bike, time stopped at 1975.

We walked out to grab a bite and settled upon a pizzeria overlooking the marina. The pizzeria was a better option than the first restaurant (across) we walked into because the host was rubbing his nose and scratching his neck, which turned out to be a customary conduct across restaurants in Balatonfured. I was having none of that so we walked across towards the empty pizzeria which slowly unveiled poor levels of hygiene and the strangest staff. Like, really strange.

Back at the hotel, the rooms were spacious and decorated with old and dated furniture. Whatever.. “I’ve been in worse places” I thought, so I sucked it up. In addition, they were hosting a corporate retreat. My first thought when I walked in the room was:

‘ LGFOH – Let’s get the F out of here’

I accept, booking a hotel was a total rookie mistake. The hotel was on the less touristic part of the lake, unless you’re a sailing nut; Balatonfured is the sailing capital. Other touristic areas, if you wanted to be by the lake, included Siofok, the Ibiza right across. Little did we know, Balatonfured attracted sexagenarians. We hoped for homey B&Bs and cheap local food, but it was its antithesis. A 1km taxi ride cost us the same as 10km in Budapest. $%#@!   A little choo choo train (LILIPUT TRAIN) took tourists around the main street and boulevard approximately 9kms of riding through mundane concrete which in my opinion is better to take a hike than wile around the hotel room or cafes on the square.

In the next two days, we were hit by rain and thunder, which did not stop us from walking to ‘Baricska Tavern’ located among vineyards, 15 minutes away, on our last night. The traditional Hungarian cooking was delicious, the sort of experience we craved for since the day we arrived. The lighting was insane and by the time we arrived at the hotel, we were drenched.

The next day, we paid a fortune for a 1km taxi ride to the train station. A delay led to an hour’s wait until an old train slowly pulled in, a gloomy signal that we would stop in each and every town to pick up passengers. It was on a first serve first come basis. Because we had luggage, we sat on a bench in the last carriage and stared at the aluminum wall, as opposed to the luscious countryside. Our backs were against the large window. Excess passengers squeezed themselves in our carriage. 5 minutes prior to arrival, hydrogen sulfide permeated the air because of some teenager’s unruly behavior, and that my friends, was the icing on the cake.

Below are two simple tips getting to / staying at Lake Balaton

1) Rent a car and take your time exploring nearby villages and vineyards

2) Rent an apartment or stay at a cosy wine estate;

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