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Cycling in a kilt near Lake Balaton

Festetics palace, museum and Helikon library at Heviz

Flowers of Hungary as seen along the route

Guided easy cycling along the Danube

Cycling and spa holiday in Hungary

Kings of Hungary

Rocks of Hungary

Hungarian cycling holidays index page

Cycling and spas in eastern Hungarian plains

Arrival in Budapest

Cycling along Tizla river in Hungary

Hungarian cycle tour: Cycling from Vienna, Austria to Lake Balaton

If you want to go on a similar trip to that described, please email Peter and Marietta now at: info@tradnaturasport.hu

Web: http://www.cycling-tours-in-hungary.com/



Cycling in Hungary: Visiting thermal bath spas and staying in castles.

We went on a ten day guided and luxurious Hungary cycle tour holiday, mainly on the flat, alongside rivers, woods and villages to the west of Budapest in Hungary. Led by Peter, a very knowledgeable local English speaking guide and followed by driver, Marietta, also local and English speaking with support minibus and trailer for our luggage and bikes. Daily thermal spa baths allowed us to relax.  Food, accommodation, the routes and visits were excellent. Peter and Marietta ran this tour three times in 2007.  Start and finish in Budapest. The same "Castles and Spas" trip will be run again in 2008, plus a new cycle tour called "Best Selection of the Danube".  See above right for dates. We are going on the new bike tour 5 - 13 July 2008.

Friday. Welcomed at the airport by Peter who took us straight into Budapest via the Elizabeth Bridge to Hotel Normafa on the Buda Svab hill.  The hotel has a swimming pool and just opposite there is a park with trees along the top of the hill ridge, with views down over the town and the Danube in the distance.  Just into the woods is a snack bar that does very nice apple strudel with poppy seeds.   At dinner we met up with the other 7 guests for the week, all from the US and Canada.

Saturday:  After breakfast there was an opportunity for a full sightseeing tour of Budapest including Hero's Square, Castle Hill views, Mathias Church and the Fisherman's Bastion.  Alternatively, if you are already familiar with Budapest you can go for local walk along the hill, through the park woodland, to the lookout observation tower. This provides excellent views of Budapest and over the surrounding forest trees. At noon we departed using our minibus to Györ which is about 2 hours up the motorway towards Vienna.  We arrived at Hotel Kiastrom which is a Carmelite cloister dating from the 1700's.  Our room at the cloister was unusual, it had two floors with beds both upstairs and downstairs.  Outside was the junction of two tributaries of the Danube and between them were the thermal baths where we spent the afternoon.  There were a variety of pools, indoor one with a drinks bar, an outdoor one with a lazy river and a nice warm pool for quiet contemplation.  We explored the pools thoroughly and found a dark pool with shallow hot water, about 8 inches deep, where you could lie down and look up at the ceiling which was black, but with hundreds of tiny star lights.  This room, being vaguely circular, had some unusual acoustic properties.


Swimming in the hot spa baths

Before supper we did a sightseeing walking tour of  Györ town centre.  The Benedictine Abby church was having a service and we crept in at the back to peek a view.  We wandered round the old town centre noting the various building, monuments and signs.


Bike Ungheria

Excellent lunchtime picnics

Sauna with giant bucket of water tipping over you.

Sunday: We started cycling today, going from Kunziget to the thermal baths at Lipot.  The cycle route was through woodland alongside the various rivers all running approx parallel with the main Danube.   The floods of the summer has subsided and the cycle track was clear throughout.  Many wild flowers lined the route, along the cycle track, often under the trees.  We stopped for a picnic lunch at Dunaremete on a sunny knoll which had been the site of a pier for the local village.

The thermal baths at Lipot were mainly outdoors, two large pools, one for swimming and one for sitting in the warm water.  Over the far side of the field was a sauna house/cabin with an interesting water wheel outside with giant bucket of water arranged to periodically tip cold water over you.  The idea is to get really hot in the sauna, then run outside and stand in line and wait for the deluge of cold water !

That evening we stayed at the Hédervár Hotel which had a Sphinx at the doorway, in Kastély.  This was a castle hotel with a chapel right next to our room, where we could look down on anyone below.  Our room was enormous, with a Bose radio and wide screen TV.  Outside there was extensive park like grounds with a large decking area immediately at the back suitable for outdoor dancing etc.

Monday: A long 57km cycle ride today through the Fertö Hansäg region. The area used to be all water and reeds before the Danube was canalised, so the soil is very fertile and organic.  Visited a 1300's Romanesque church. Saw Roscoff sheep with long twisted horns, originally from the Gobi desert.  At southern end of the Feter Neu-siedler See we visited the Esterhazy palace plus small museum with pictures of birds etc.  Finally arriving at Hotel near Sopron.  Evening meal was out at a restaurant where the food was really excellent. Various patés on home made bread, celery and sweet chestnut soup, breast of pheasant dumplings, fish in stir fried cabbage, creamy meringues. Scrumptious.  Great atmosphere, To bed 22:30

Tuesday: Into Sopron town centre for a walk around Roman remains and old buildings plus time for leisurely coffee in the main square.  Then off to the Neu-siedler See (lake) for a boat trip, hopefully to see some birds.  Not much seen on this occasion except 2 seagulls !  then to a cafe in the deserted camp site area.  This cafe does Hungarian fast food - Gherkins and peppers stuffed with celeriac and tomato followed by hake fish specially cooked to make it easy to eat. Delicious.  Chris enjoyed it  very much due to the lack of bones!    Then poppy seed and cherry strudel (two portions for Eric).  Final 10km cycling uphill, but managed OK.  Hotel has extensive thermal baths/medical centre accessible by a labyrinth of passageways.  The hot bath was really warm with warning notices (in Hungarian) which warned of something.  Anyway I did not stay in the water long enough to dissolve or start glowing.

Wednesday: Visited local limestone quarry where vast caverns had been created in the ground following the extraction of large limestone blocks.    Now the quarry is a theatre with seating for underground concerts etc.  Then on to an open air train locomotive museum and to the Scecheni Castle Museum.  Then on to a lunch spot next to an old triple grain mill with water wheel, which had survived the communistic era by being dismantled and the parts distributed and hidden for many years.   Then two sections of cycling, slightly uphill and final 10km by bus to a castle hotel at Bozsok, in the woods by a gold panning stream.  Supper was a short walk downhill to a restaurant - mushroom soup, venison and dumplings, pancakes,  We left a little early and walked back uphill in the dark, crossing the stream by a small bridge.  We had a giant metal key to open the door to the castle.


Limestone quarry - now a theatre

Notice at a spa !

Hungarian railway museum

 

Thursday: On bus, over the gold stream to town of Kuszeg. Picturesque town centre, churches, peace arch, Turkish siege, museum.  Coffee and cream cakes then back on the bus up to the top of the hills at Vörös Kereszt.  Here we had a great ride, definitely downhill, for many miles through conifer tree plantations, past woodcutting people and brown cows.  Stopped at a red cross.  Views over Käszeg.  Lunch at Kincs-pihenö - goulash soup and bread.  Back via undulating track via Szebö-hegy, views of wine storage houses, to our next deep pink castle at Kastélyszálló Bozsok


Wild boar

Water wheel at grain mill

Cycling Hungary

Wine storage
 

Friday: Cycled from the castle, over the gold stream, down to the village and then turned right, due south, parallel to the Austrian border, through Buesu, then right to Narda past many small wine cellere buildings to Felsöcsatár.  South to Vaskeresztes to Pornópati then in bus to Ják with an enormous Romanesque church,  Found two Scottish Saints: Saint Margit and Saint Kálmán plus listing of the Arpad family tree.  Back in bus for trip to the smallest Romanesque church at Rum.  Then to children's park for picnic lunch.  Very long cycle ride 35km to hotel.  Stopped several times on the uphill sections.  Finally at 6:15 arrived at Misefa Kastélyszálló near Nagykapomak. Good supper in dining room with yellow walls and pink ceiling. Loud oldies music for a time! 

Festetics Palace and Helikon library museum
Image is link to Festetics Palace page

Saturday:  Day off from cycling.  In the morning we went up to Kesztely and visited the Festetics Palace, museum and Helikon library with its classic English garden layout.  In the famous Helikon library are many old books, plus details about papermaking and book binding.  We then had lunch in Kesztely High street, after seeing a procession of people following a cardinal.  In the afternoon we went down to the giant thermal pool lake at Heviz, surrounded by Metasequoia Glyptostrobodies trees.  The hot water 33°C comes out of an underwater cave at about 42m deep and wells up to the surface in the middle of the lake.  There is an oil rig type structure making a pavilion, with four large indoor pools standing in the middle of the lake which you get to via pedestrian bridges.  The water is very deep so it is best to take a woggle with you or rent an inner tube.


Image is link to wild flowers page

Sunday: From Heviz we cycled along the cycle track on the north coast of Lake Balaton eastwards past volcanic hills including some with rare basalt columns.  We passed many small thatched cottages and vineyards producing excellent wines from the volcanic soil and rock. We sampled some exceptionally good wines at Ráspi Étterem és Vinárium derived from grapes with deep roots grown on volcanic rocks. The picnic lunch this day was special. We had sparkling white wine to celebrate such a successful tour !

Cycling in a kilt - short kilt but not a mini-kilt !
Image is link to cycling in kilt page

Monday: Staying at Hotel Tihany on a promontory of the north shore of Lake Balaton. Just opposite is a mini marina with sailboats moored and some dinghies very neatly aligned on the mown grass.  Eric fancied a day's sailing if we could have rented at 10 man boat.  Went to see the Abbey of Tihany at the top of the 80m hill. Very ornately decorated with amazing high ceilings.  The museum next door tell the story of how that last Hungarian King Charles IV was there just before he was deposed and banished to Switzerland in 1921 and thence to Madeira. We had time for shopping and sitting on terrace having coffee and cake, overlooking Lake Balaton in the sunshine.  Moved on to Balaton Füred where we walked around the harbour area and took photos of Eric and Peter (Peter with Chris's hat, Eric in his Kilt).  Nice chap on a boat was playing a set of wooden pipes and we bought a couple of CDs.   Afternoon was the return journey to Hotel Normafa in Budapest.

Tuesday: All departed Budapest and made their way home.

Any comments please e-mail Eric/Chris Johnston.

All content Copyright (c) Satellite Signals Ltd. 2007

Page started 28 Sept 2007, last amended 12 May 2016.