Balaton and beyond...

8th April 2013

Balaton Lake has a split personality – the southern side is loud and brash with high rise hotels attracting those looking for a lively club scene whereas the northern side is more refined suiting the more mature market (that’ll be us then!).

A large proportion of the northern side sits within the Balaton Uplands National Park with strict restrictions on building and access. The park authority has developed a number of attractions for tourists, they just seem to have forgotten to signpost them, a problem we’ve found throughout our travels so far in Hungary! The three we did manage to eventually find were Tapolca Lake Cave (£2.78 entry fee), the Hegyestϋ Geological Site (£1.66 entry fee) and the Sea of Stones in Salfold (free).

The Lake Cave in Tapolca was a laugh – you get your own little aluminium boat to paddle around a short cave system, ducking and diving nimbly under the very low arches.  We spent a little time setting the compact camera on self-timer on various ledges to try and get a picture of both of us in the boat, not so easy with low light and unstable subject! By the time we paddled back to the starting point there was a queue of about 10 people waiting - I dread to think what happens if/when a bus load arrives.

The Hegyestϋ Geological site lies in an area of Europe which was the most crowded volcano field in Europe 8 million years ago. The whole north coast of the lake is a geologists heaven – its at times like these I wish I had spent more time listening in class when I did my Geography ‘O’ level! When we arrived we were the only people there – a couple more cars arrived as we were leaving.

Leaving Balaton lake we headed north and drove right through the heart of Budapest along the Danube – it seemed a bit busy and built up for us (and difficult with the camper van) so we carried on driving and headed out towards the north-eastern corner of Hungary. The main roads are good, the people are friendly, and the attractions and food are the cheapest we have experienced so far…….. we’re enjoying Hungary.

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