1.2 Hungary, we're coming
Updated: Aug 25, 2022
The interest in our expedition vehicle is usually very high. Not so at the Austrian-Hungarian border. We literally drive in fifth gear across the national border and no border guard to be seen far and wide. Thank God! We head directly for Sopron, Ödenburg in German. Also in Sopron we drive to a Park4Night parking lot. In the first two weeks through Austria, we have always done well with this app. Of course, it's like with all rating portals, and as a hotelier and business optimizer, I know all about that. Which means that, in addition to the score, you also have to keep an eye on the number of ratings and the relevance of the negative comments.
So in Sopron, there is a large flat parking lot under trees in close proximity to the old town. In our internal rating, this overnight place gave a 6.4 out of 10. That's not bad at all for a location in the middle of the city, without thrills and frills ;-). In any case, we were very satisfied with both, the picturesque city as well as the overnight stay. The sights were limited, according to the size of the city. All the more impressive were those that it has to offer. For example, the Gate of Loyalty. Where can you find something like that? You only need to browse a little in their history. For this I have remembered two dates:
According to the peace treaty of Trianon in 1921, the inhabitants of Sopron were allowed to decide for themselves whether they wanted to belong to Hungary or Austria. Whether the vote was legal is still a matter of debate today. The fact is that since then the Sopronians have had the Gate of Loyalty erected to the south of the Fire Tower, as their loyalty to their Hungarian homeland was held in high esteem. Even today in Sopron the voting day on December 14 is celebrated as the Day of Loyalty.
Secondly, August 19, 1989 is considered a historic and solemn day commemorating the fall of the Iron Curtain. The day is celebrated annually as the Pan-European Picnic.
Strolling through the old town, we soon understand what we will probably see many times in the coming weeks. Porcelain stores with hand-painted fine porcelain and churches, churches, churches. In Soporn, however, we enter a synagogue in addition to a few churches. For us a novelty and therefore exciting anyway.
For the rest, the city impresses with its colorful buildings and shady courtyards. It is also striking that here is still very much written in German.
The next day we continue to Fertöd to the Esterhazy Castle. We spend the night a few hundred meters from the castle on a huge empty gravel parking lot. In the very corner we snuggle up to two other overlanders. We have prepared a short video about the visit to the castle and the fantastic gardens. So that no stress arises and because we want to photograph the impressive Japanese pagoda trees in the castle park with another camera, we stay a second night.
But now it's time to set off again. After all, we want to be at Lake Balaton by the end of the week to receive our fatbike spare part. The road leads us for the time being via Papa to Herend to the world-famous porcelain factory of the same name. The route is rather unspectacular. Although we avoid the highways at all costs, we only get to see two things. Sunflower fields and corn fields. Not that they are not beautiful, but they all look very similar. But the size of the fields is very impressive for us small-minded Swiss. We think about the local agricultural economy. The fields are all flawless, no weeds, no nothing. Can this be done without Monsanto? We have strong doubts...
Arriving in Herend, we stand and spend the night right next to the porcelain mecca, which consists of a museum, a store and the manufactory. It's impressive how everything here is carefully shaped and painted by hand.
We enjoy a private tour in German to be inspired by this craft. Of course we cannot leave without a small porcelain souvenir. Whether this will survive the offroad routes remains to be seen. If the quality is right, our two new egg cups will also survive the trip ;-)
We continue south to the Tihany peninsula on Lake Balaton. The lake should be only a few meters deep and honestly, it seems much bigger than we expected. It is also the largest inland lake in Central Europe, and so it makes sense.
In Tihany we then stay barely an hour. Unfortunately, the monastery was just renovation wrapped and thus not at all photogenic. Tihany is extremely touristy and thus not necessarily our taste. In addition, it is getting warmer by the day and we long to finally go swimming. So the journey continues to the intended beach parking lot of Szigliget at the northwest end of the lake. During the arrival time so approx. 17 o'clock the beach and thus the parking lot is still very well occupied. We are lucky to be able to maneuver ourselves backwards into a parking hatch in the front, which will allow us a safe exit the next day, even though the parking lot may have filled up again by the time we continue our journey. That evening we treat ourselves to dinner at the Beach Restaurant across the street. At sunset I go for a long awaited swim in Lake Balaton and shortly after I am rewarded with a super moonrise. WOW what a atmosphere!
The next morning was then not quite so WOW, because we had hundreds of small greenish insects on our vehicle. Fortunately, of course, all outside. Our mosquito nets on all windows and roof hatches, as well as the entrance door are simply worth their weight in gold. Only very seldom a flyer dares to enter our living room. And if they do, Brigitte will take care of them with the well-tried fly swatter. So we don't care about the army of these greenlings, because we will probably be able to shake them off as we continue our journey. At least that are my thoughts at the moment.
In this parking lot with all the tourists coming and going, we already feel a little strange. Many comment, some take pictures and especially children pose next to our FRAME and are just excited about such a special travel vehicle. We feel extremely privileged that we can travel around with it and are just grateful that we could realize this dream.
Unfortunately, our bike spare part has not yet arrived at Lake Balaton and so we decide without further ado to take a regeneration break at the campsite until then. Washing clothes, edit pictures, write blog, call our loved ones, etc..
We try our luck at Panorama Camping above Heviz, the thermal resort. Surprisingly, there is enough free space. To say it right, the small campsite, which is run by a German, is virtually empty, because allegedly many Germans with the current fuel prices do not even start the journey to Hungary. Also understandable. To us it is to be right. We choose a shady place under birches, oaks and maples. Of course, the panorama has to take a back seat in our choice. But shade is more important to us at temperatures far above 30°C.
Speaking of current diesel prices. Actually, we hoped that we could somehow get the subsidized diesel for Hungarians. The locals fill up namely at the moment to about 1.20 euros per liter. The foreigner, however, 2.00 euros. When I tried to haggle for a few hundred liters of diesel far inland and away from the tourists, I was turned down. A maximum of 20 liters would be possible, partly even only 10 liters and that only if I let the "C" of my Swiss "CH" disappear somehow and I only show off with the local "H" (for Hungary). Well then just not. The Romanians are also happy if they can sell me the gas. There it costs at present approx. 1.85 euro and until then it will still be enough.
Yes to take it immediately beforehand. During the three days in the camping in glistening heat we made a decision. Because next week the mercury in our region should rise to 43°C and higher. We don't want to do that to ourselves and we flee to the Carpathians. Although about a month earlier than planned, but Hungary will be waiting for us. We like to come back in October and have a look at Budapest and the north of Hungary.
Next Blog: 3. "Escape to the Carpathians"