A visit to Sopron, near the Austrian border
After a quiet start with sandwiches, coffee and tea, we go off for the hinterland of the western shore of lake Balaton. This region is covered with the cones of extinguished volcanos. On the hillsides of these mountains is a lot of viticulture.
Along the whole lake we see these conical mountains and a large area has been declared a national park. But it is far from quiet because of the touristic attraction of the nearby lake Balaton.
From this park we drive to the north and drive through Nagyvazsony where we see this castle tower. There is also a Dutch flag waving, but we don't know why. This village was once a prosperous area, the fief of the military man Kiniszi who is famous in Hungarian legends as Pal, the miller's servant who was so strong that he served pitchers of wine on a millstone instead of on a normal tray. (Ok, later we found out it wasn't a Dutch flag at all, but a local Hungarian flag which resembles the Dutch flag)Then we continue our way to Sopron, in the northwest of Hungary, near the border of Austria. We expected to see the foothills of the Alps, but to our deception we only saw flat plains. The countryside is very flat and not very interesting, like the villages we pass through. Or are we just a bit spoiled by all the beautiful landscapes we have seen until now?
Sopron has never been occupied by the Turks and a lot of the buildings from the late Middle Ages are still there, although most of them have been rebuild in the 18th century in a baroque style.
Under the fire tower is a gateway that leads to the central square and the old town centre. According to our travel guide Pecs and Sopron are struggling for being the second most interesting town of Hungary and we hoped to make a final choice. But both cities are so different and they are both very nice. So, they have a well deserved shared second place, maybe even the first place since Budapest is only so imprsessive since everything is so big there (no reason to get 1st place since it is so big!).
The original centre of Sopron is smaller than that of Pecs but there are more old buildings together on a smaller surface. Excavations have shown that the Celts and the Romans already had a settlement here. But, although being a very popular and interesting town, it is very quiet here compared with the shores of lake Balaton.We wonder about the German names a lot of streets have, but it is not so surprising since it once belonged to Austria (it was then called Odenburg instead of Sopron). When the Austrian empire split into Austria and Hungary the Austrians were very surprised when the people of Odenburg voted to join Hungary instead of Austria.
At a restaurant we eat a late lunch and for the first time the national food: goulash. But we have forgotten the real Hungarian name, that was something quite different on the menu. A reader later emailed us it is called Pörkölt.The way back to the campsite takes us much longer than we thought, more than 2 hours. Maybe it feels so long since the landscape is all the same: flat and without any surprises. Until we arrive in the neighbourhood of lake Balaton with the volcano hills. Hungary is definitely a nice country, but we liked it the best when we just arrived in the northeast. We really liked the nature there, but the rest of the country, the baroque towns and the socalled puszta was a bit of a waste to us. We must be really spoiled... Well, tomorrow we will leave this country and see what happens next.
Travel through Europe and Africa
with Elisabeth and Teije