Cycling in a kilt near Lake Balaton.
Flowers of Hungary as seen along the route.
Link to the organisers of our cycling tour in Hungary:
Eight days of easy to medium cycling with tasty food and good company. Some stops with hot thermal spa baths.
1. We arrived Vienna airport to a welcome and limo transfer by Velo-Touring to Hotel Lassalle, north east of Vienna city centre and about 200m from the river Danube. The foyer had brochures available featuring Mozart and Johann Strauss music concerts, also impressive Chinese statue in foyer which had jumped down from its earlier position above the entrance door. 6pm: Cycle tour briefing with cycling tour guide George.
2. 52 km. In the morning we collected all brand new bikes from the garage and departed. A good route has been chosen out of Vienna via the shaded Prater park with trees, avoiding all the traffic. Then along by the Danube, resting briefly near a white bell shaped building before our last view of the Danube. We were soon out into the countryside with villages, churches, vineyards and mown fields to rest the eye. We finished the day at Pension Eder in Bruck.
3. 64 km. We worked our way south, fortunately with the wind behind us, hills on the right and distant views towards the Neusiedler See which was marginally visible in the horizon of reeds in the far distance to the east. We stopped in Rust for lunch and bought postcards from Wolfgang Binder at a little Tabak in the centre. Numerous tall poles with Christmas trees at the top were explained as being used for maypole dancing on 1st May. In the afternoon, we cycled past a lake, crossed the border into Hungary and made our way to the really posh 4 star Hotel Sopron. We ate loads of calories followed by an evening visit round Sopron where all houses are said to have Roman mosaic museums in the basements.
4. 65km. Cycling downhill initially and then up through the woods with some shade. Good views from the higher ground looking down on the Neusiedler See. Through vineyards to Balf, past thermal bath and camping at Kophaza to Esterházy-Kastély. This was giant summer palace with orange walls and gilt decoration for the Esterházy family before the Russian invasion when it became a military HQ. Many other palaces were destroyed. Since then the palace has been used as school and youth hostel. It is now being well cared for as a museum and many paintings and furnishings are being returned or beautifully restored. Joseph Hayden (musician) played here for many years. Each room had an om - a room heating device fed by ducts of hot air from a central heating hot air generator. Lunch was special today. Thomas the driver, prepared a witches cauldron stew in a lovely secluded field by a pond. That, together with with the regular after-lunch snooze made my day. Then 25k further south east to Csapod and bus the final 10k to Szeleste on the E65 to Szombathely. Thermal bath at hotel tonight with venison and pancake and chocolate. Nice new hotel but rather short beds so I had to sleep at an angle with my feet out on chair.
5. 65km. Dawn came with blue skies through the sloping roof windows. Cool, but bright start. Saw deer running very fast in field. Route was Egyhazashetye, where we gave cycling a brief rest to admire the satellite dish data terminal VSAT installation on the post office. Then on to Boba, Nagypirit, Kispirit to Somló to see Hungary's answer to Ayres Rock with trees and hill fort partly destroyed by Hapsburg. Famous for its Honeymoon Vineyard said to be ideal place for starting off baby boys. We met up in the garden of the house of Martonyne Hilda for a drink before going to local houses where we were to each stay separately for the night. We stayed with Weinpel Janosne Magdi in Dozsa Str. Very comfortable with home grown potatoes, onions, yellow peppers. Saw black cat on the way over. The evening meal was as a group. We had rather excellent cabbage cake (meatball wrapped in cabbage idea but far far better then typical such meal).
6. 62.5km Great breakfast - thanks to Martonyne. Visited church at Magyarpolány and climbed to the viewpoint up 150 steps. Noted that two kings Ladislav II had Steven I had put a stop to the burning of people because they were said to be witches. Other people came from Turkey and killed about a quarter of the Hungarian people. Stalin then came and shipped most of the rest off the Germany while importing people from Croatia to fill the houses. Lunch was Hungarian hamburger - very nice with potato / onion salad. PM: about 25k steady uphill and some busy roads. Arrived via Karmacs to Hévíz Gyogyfurdo thermal lake and many metasequoia glyptostroboides trees. I am still trying to get my seeds to germinate after 2 weeks in the freezer, now trying 70 deg F in damp sand*. Then narrow overgrown cycle track and finally up a steep hill in a wood on a really bad loose surface which had just been treated by a scraper. Only about 500m in total but the 'jungle trail' with its swarms of mosquitoes, seemed much longer. Arrived at giant lakeside Helikon hotel at Keszthely overlooking Lake Balaton with its private bridge to sunbathing island.
7. 30k We spent morning doing our own thing in the Keszthely area. Options were to visit the thermal pool at Hévíz, walk into town where there was music and dancing or have drinks/snack/ice cream on one of the piers by the lake. 3:30pm: Set of to cycle along north shore of Lake Balaton, past old volcanoes and through wine growing area around Szepkilato to a hillside Szent György - with great meal, wine tasting and music to dance to at and then back by bus.
8. 58km Raining a little this morning and rather tired so tried to stay awake cycling along towards Fonyod. Last full day but no problem with route which was flat along the south shore of Lake Balaton past many holiday centres. At one point where the route crosses a wild, reed covered area called Csisztapuszta we transitioned to horse drawn carriage for a few miles before rejoining the bikes and on to Buzsák. Lunch was at a remote vineyard with thatched wine store houses. A nice lunch was provided by the local people with various, rather good, wines. Bought some embroidery. Cycled further north east to lakeside hotel at Balaton Boglar, painted in garish cruise ship colours. Had supper by the lakeside with views of the sunset.
9. 48k Completed the cycle trip along the south shore of Lake Balaton. Stopped opposite the Tihany promontory where grapes for red wine are grown. Then past more holiday homes, hotels and camping grounds, all the way along. Champagne picnic lunch by the lake with cheese, bread, salad etc. Finally fantastic views along the lake from Balaton Aliga. Then downhill and uphill the final steep 200m to the bus to take us to Budapest. That evening we were taken on a night tour of the town with views along the river Danube and also from viewpoint high up on north side where the illuminated Chain Bridge formed part of a spectacular view. Chain Bridge was built in 1849 by British Engineer William Tierney Clark and is a copy of Hammersmith Bridge (1832). Stayed in the Walzer Hotel near a large and interesting cemetery.
10. We took a taxi to Budapest airport and eventually arrived safely home. No problems.
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