Tour to the Balaton

I enjoy exploring a country the most when I’m not alone. And it’s even better if the people you are travelling with have cars on their own so you’re not even dependent on public transport. This way you can simply switch between places whenever you want to.

Which can lead to a one-day-tour to the holiday area around Lake Balaton.

Veszprém - City of Queens

Veszprém is one of the bigger cities close to Balaton and capital of the Veszprém county. It is especially well known for being the crowning city of the Hungarian queens, which lead to it bearing the title of being the “City of Queens”.

The whole old part of town is full of beautiful buildings, lots of churches and chapels and many statues, which are wrapped into foil during the winter to protect them from the harsh weather.

Especially impressive is the cliff in the middle of the city on which the castle of Veszprém can be found, together with a statue of the first Hungarian king, István, and his wife Gizella.

Tihany - City of Lavender

After Veszprém we went to Tihany, a small town on the Tihany peninsula. It’s quite well known for it’s lavender farming which is one of the main areas of production of the local monastery, and everywhere in town you can find evidence for it’s importance.

There are even souvenier shops where you can buy lavender beer or wine.

Because the sun has already won quite some strength we make a stop at one of the ice cream parlours specialising on lavender ice cream - there is classic lavender ice cream, chocolate lavender ice cream, blueberry lavender ice cream and lots and lots more. It’s not an ice cream I would eat every day, but it was tasty nonetheless.

Balatonfüred - The Holiday Center of Balaton

Next stop is Balatonfüred - a holiday area especially well visited by German tourists. Season hasn’t started yet (parking, too, is free of charge until the 15. of March) so most of the shops and restaurants are still closed, too.

There is one Lángos place that’s opened despite it being off season, where we take a break and eat one of the famous hungarian flatbreads. Afterwards we go through one of the open gates to the lake - because there, too, they are still not asking for an entrance fee.

Shortly before sunset we take to the road again, to the last station of the day, because there the view is better than directly next to the lake.

Szentkirályszabadja - Socialist ghost town

A lot closer to Veszprém again is the village Szentkirályszabadja, which loosely translates to “The Holy Kings’s Freedom”. Close to it is a conglomeration of industrialised apartment buildings from the Socialist era, which have been abandoned and stood empty for around 40 years now.

The buildings are a no-man’s-land and a popular meeting place for paintball players, youngsters and graffiti artists - and you can go up in these house ruins to the very top of of the buildings, where you have a great view over Lake Balaton and, in the other direction, the sunset.

It is not a place where I would like to be alone after dark, but it is by far the most exciting place of the day. The ruins are surrounded by overgrown, wild shrubland and in the houses themselves are glass shards and debris lying around everywhere. The walls are painted with creative artworks and creative insults. Next to the apartment complexes are a few other buildings, like a school with a collapsed roof conifers are growing out of.

It is a ghost town, and she radiates this bleak feeling of being abandoned, and even though this visit was absolutely amazing, it gets a little easier to breathe when we leave this place behind after sunset, to get back to Székesfehérvár.

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