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To Veszprem and to Sopron, near the Austrian border

Home -> Europe -> Hungary -> Travelogue Hungary -> 28 & 29 June 2003

Saturday 28 June, to Veszprem and to Sopron, near the Austrian border

We could make a long story about today: getting up, trying to get awake, drinking coffee, drinking tea, sunbathing, washing, reading, and so we could go on like this. An endless series of things to do, but we won't tire you out with these useless stories. Shortly, we have a resting day. On the grass along the lake it is very busy with sunlovers, so we stay near the tent with all our things within reach. We can sit in the sun or in the shadow of the trees, just whatever we want.
Veszprem, HungaryWhen the temperature gets almost under 30 degrees we decide to leave the campsite for a short trip. We go to Veszprem, not far away from Balatonfüred and probably the only town in the neighbourhood where there is something interesting to see. The village is build on 5 hilltops and the differences in height in the town are huge. We park as near to the centre as possible and refuse to pay for the parking meter: HUF 800 for one hour, that is € 3,50!
Veszprem, Hungary Fountain at VeszpremThe town centre is small, but we see some interesting buildings like this church with its small neck, like a funnel. But the most important part is the castle which has been build on the highest hilltop. It has a length of more than 500 meters and there are several churches and baroque buildings inside its walls and some nice fountains.
Japanese drawers in VeszpremWe often see Japanese people in a row, taking pictures, but these Japanese are drawing the view instead of photographing it. For us a unique sight!
Castle of Veszprem Castle of Veszprem, HungaryIt is a nice town to walk through and we are not the only ones who think like that. But it is very quiet compared to the shores of lake Balaton. At a bar we take a coffee and a softdrink and to our surprise we only have to pay HUF 365, that is about € 1,65. So, Hungary can be cheap in some places.
View from the castle, VeszpremAt the end of the castle we look out over the old town which has been build mainly under the hilltops. It looks very pretty, but to the right (just off the picture) are many apartment complexes by which the view is spoiled.
Driving back along lake Balaton we try to find a quiet piece of beach or just a quiet shore, but we don't find any. There is almost no beach, just quays where one can sit and swim. Next to these places are car parkings: € 3 per hour (at least). We'll do with the grass on the campsite.
Lake BalatonThere seem to be more beaches on the eastern side of the lake, but it has a length of more than 75 kilometers, so it is a long way to drive there and undoubtedly it will be busy there, also. This place is much too touristic and too crowded for us, although it is nice to sit by the water with these temperatures. We will probably move next week to the Czech Republic and look there for nice places to stay.

Sunday 29 June 2003, visit to Sopron, near the Austrian border

Viticulture near lake BalatonAfter 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.
Extinguished volcanos, HungaryAlong 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.
Castle at NagyvazsonyFrom 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)
Sopron, western HungaryThen 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.
Fire tower of Sopron Elisabeth under the fire towerUnder 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 center of SopronThe 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.
Hungarian goulashAt 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.


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