Badacsony, Lake Balaton
Wednesday, November 28
To sum up Viking:
If you want a vacation where you want to put forth no effort at all, Viking is good for that. You pick your excursions and they give you an itinerary and shuttle you wherever you need to be. Plenty of food is available for the main meals. The soups are always good and most entrees were good and very American. They always had heavy pours of wine at lunch and dinner.
The part that was hard for us was losing our independence. We are not good at being in crowds and moving at a slow pace overall. Apparently we need more stress in our vacation to be fulfilled. Also, with all of the food on the ship, we feel like we missed a lot of the local food in each of the cities we went to. And we really enjoy the weird food that no one can pronounce.
We left the ship today around 9:30. I really have to say that I love the independence of being on our own.
We marched ourselves down to the car rental place with all of our bags in tow. It was about 25 degrees and a 1.5 mile walk- just what we needed to kick-start our vacation. We rented a Toyota Yaris and our adventures really began. First step was getting gas. I am always thankful that there is an English option on most machines. So, you scan your credit card and guess how many forints you will spend for your gas, measured in liters, of course. You then pump the gas and whatever is not used is credited back to your card. At least, we hope it was. I guess we’ll find out.
Then, we went down the street and withdrew 100,000 forints, which I tell you only because it sounds like an impressive amount of money.
Then we began our driving to Lake Balaton. Lake Balaton is the largest freshwater lake in Europe. Next to it is Lake Hévíz, which is the largest thermal lake in Europe. We are going to Hévíz tomorrow, so I will be able to tell you then if it is warm or not.
It was about a 3-hour drive from Budapest to Badacsony. The first place we went was Szigligeti vár, which is the ruin of an old fortress from 1260. The people of the region were being attacked by Turkish invaders, so they had the Benedictine monks build the fortress on the top of the hill so that they had somewhere to protect them in an attack. This fortress was used throughout the middle ages and all the way through the 18th Century. My favorite part was the view of Lake Balaton from the top of the fortress towers.
After this, we found our hotel for the night called Obester Pension. It is a 200-year old building in the middle of a massive hill filled with grapevines. Catharina is from Sweden and her husband Zoltan met her there before they moved back here to his home country. They had two pups , Enya and Bonzo, who speak Swedish apparently but they definitely do not shy away from American petting.
For dinner, Catharina suggested Borbaratok. Chris had chicken paprikash with creamy egg noodles and I had lamb stew with dumplings. Both are similar- heavy gravy with garlic and paprika & big chunks of meat and vegetables. We also had wine, because at $1-2 a glass, we decided it was affordable. The wine was actually made at this restaurant as it was also a winery. While we would not recommend the wine, we would recommend the food. As long as you are not on a diet.