Tuesday, 6 November 2018


Yes it is about time we continued our Blog so here we are with one about Hungary.

This country is one of huge contrasts from the “seaside” and beach areas of Lake Balaton to the magnificent hills and vineyards around Eger and Tokaj as well as the Great Plain and the flatlands where we saw 1000s of common Cranes flying in to roost in the sunset.

Lake Balaton, a huge area of inland water, approx. 80kms long, is Hungary’s inland sea. Beautiful beaches surround this azure blue lake but when we were there it was very quiet. We were now well into the “non tourist” season with many places locked up for the winter. Balatonfured was one of these places, the large campsite was almost empty but obviously has had a busy season in the summer as it had 3 closed restaurants and several bars all boarded and closed up for the winter. The town itself was still fairly busy but again many of the restaurants and bars were closed. The lake was flat calm when we were there and the warm weather allowed us to get out on the bikes and cycle paths around the lake. A ride along to the Tihany Peninsular to see the monastery and have lunch was a great way to spend the day. 
Sunsetting over Lake Balaton

Looking toward Tihany

Out for a cycle

Tihany Monastry


Southern end of the Lake

Strong wind one night filled to pool with leaves

The trees missed Max

After spending a few nights in Balatonfured and then Keszthely at the southern end of the lake we took a drive over to a town called Pecs in the south of Hungary. We were told that there was a wine festival on but as we cycled into the town from our camp some 8 kms out we began to wonder where. It was so quiet, even in the town centre very few people were around. It was obvious something was happening that weekend, 2 stages had been erected and many temporary stalls had been set up but the place was so quiet.. We found a restaurant for lunch and suddenly when we went back to the main square, we found that it was heaving. It was a great afternoon with a parade, dancing, singing and loads of stalls selling wine and food. So of course we felt obliged to try one or two of the local wines. 

Very Quiet Pecs

Very few people about

Wine festival brought the people out

From Pecs we drove north to the capital Budapest which is probably our favourite capital city of the trip so far. Not a lot can be said that hasn’t been written before so just enjoy the photos.

Lots of cruise boats in

View from the castle

The state they call "Michael Jackson"

The city was more beautiful as the sun went down

We took a night time dinner cruise on the river

Parliament Building

The Religious Buildings are magnificent

This box contains the right hand of a saint. Why?

The tree of life in the holocaust museum in the old Ghetto

Street Art

X marks the spot

The castle

Just sitting around

Jan learning to paint

One of the many art works, this one in memory of the Jews killed here and dumped in the River

This controversial memorial to the Communist era is now an "Anti" memorial

The House of Terror or Old KGB headquarters

From Budapest we drove northeast to the wine growing areas around Eger and Tokaj. The drive was beautiful through the winding roads over the hills. Autumn had arrived with a vengeance. Everywhere we drove we admired the beautiful golden brown leaves on the trees, particularly on sunny days. It was too early for the leaves to have started to fall, which made it even more spectacular. 

The Valley of the Beautiful Women

Tasting the local wines

Monument to the defeat of the Turks

View from the Castle with the only Minaret in Eger (and that has a cross on top)

For some reason there is a Beatles museum in Eger

Window reflection

The first wine town we went to was Eger. This area is the home of that deep red wine Bikaver (Bulls Blood). The town of Eger is also beautiful with an old centre and a castle guarding over it. Many of the statues commemorate the defeat of the Turkish armies back in 16thCentury. We spent a couple of evenings in “The Valley of the Beautiful Women” a small valley close to our camp that has many wine cellars cut into the hills and evenings were spent tasting the local wines including Egri Bikaver. We noticed that the evenings were starting to feel a lot cooler especially if you were sitting outside after dusk. Still, it was nice to use some of the warmer clothes that we have with us. 

It was only a short drive  through the hills to our next site in Tokaj, famed for its sweet wines. Here we had a day cycling in the hills and vineyards including a vist to the highest statue of Christ in Europe and finishing in a small local restaurant just outside Tokaj. Our camp here was alongside the river and again the colours in the morning sunlight were amazing.

I would look like him if I lived here

They had a festival a couple of weeks before we arrived, now the town is quiet

Early morning from our campsite

The vineyards of Tokaj

Medlars growing in the vines

sweet grapes of Tokaj

Picking the harvest

After leaving the hills behind at Tokaj we then drove across the vast flat area called the Great Plain towards our final destination in Hungary, Hortobagy National Park. This area is a large wetland with marshes and slakes everywhere. Our main reason to go was because at this time of year the Common Crane uses it as a “stopover” on its migration from Northern Europe to Turkey. We didn’t count them but we were told that there were some 14,000 of the cranes at that time roosting on one lake. It was spectacular watching them fly in at dusk with the sun setting. The first night we walked the 5km to our campsite. The next morning we cycled out again to see the Cranes leave their nesting sites. In the evening we were lucky enough to be there at the same time as a group from Budapest who had ordered the train for them to return on. Of course we asked if we could join them, which was great fun. They were very friendly people many of whom had come, like us, to see the Cranes. 

Reed Houses of Hortobagy

Some of the large numbers of Cranes

Rainbows end

Birdwatching tower at sunset

We camped in the car park just outside the Visitor Centre which was very convenient. Not only did they tell us the WIFI password, they left it on all night just for us. How welcome we felt. 

These final photos are just some of the sights we saw as we drove across the country

Max was protected by many things in Hungary, A tank

Missile System

Whole army of military hardware peaking over the hill as we have lunch

Beautiful and weird architecture

One of the many monasteries we passed by
Its OK my shoes had come unstuck so I glued them and needed to pegs to hold them while they set

Yes this is a quick view of Hungary, another one of the amazing countries we have visited on “Our Grand Tour”