1877 km so far.
I awoke to sunshine, birds singing, and Stephen zipping and unzipping various zippers. Why do tents have to be so zippery?
We set about our usual early morning routine of Stephen making coffee and me wandering around in a daze. As we were pouring our brew, a German lady came over to us and started talking. She spoke no English, but managed to convey to us that free breakfast would be served in the restaurant starting at 8am, with coffee!
Oh yes, we had forgotten. This campsite has breakfast included. If ever in Lake Balaton, we highly recommend you stop by El Dorado, a family-run joint just outside of Badacsony, where they actually act like they want you to camp there, and provide useful things like information and free breakfast.
We were so jazzed after our coffee, bread, jam, and muesli (we could also have had eggs, sausage, cold meats, and cheese if we’d desired) that we just had to do some yoga.
We discovered that if you don’t practice Hanumanasana for six weeks, it is very difficult indeed (as if it was easy to begin with).
On The Beaten Path
With a dry tent and a newly cleaned bike, we set off further up Lake Balaton. The lake is so long that today’s entire route will consist of us taking the bike path in a North-Easterly direction.
Riding on bike paths is a great pleasure. There is no traffic to worry about, no map to consult, and no need to hurry (for some reason). It feels very free to glide along a paved channel made especially for you. It is also kind of boring after a while. There is no thinking involved. No surprises greet you around each corner. Just more bike path and more pedalling.
Much of the Lake Balaton path doesn’t even afford a view of the lake. But what lake we managed to see was pretty, albeit reedy and murky. Our ride was accompanied by the songs of thousands of frogs, ducks, and birds enjoying the preserved wetlands.
Curiously, although the Balaton bike path seems well used, there are not many facilities along the route. For example, by about 11am we were more than ready to stop for second breakfast and a cup of coffee, but no such thing was to be had. There are also no public restrooms the entire way, and since the road is relatively well travelled and populated, not many chances to sneak off into the bushes.
I guess the intention is to get you to spend your money in one of the many beach parks along the way, which are fenced in and require you to pay a fee to enter. They are also all closed at this time of year, so cyclists must fend for themselves.
By 11:45am, with no cafe in sight, we were ready to fall out of our saddles with hunger, so I called a halt. We munched on salted almonds, trail mix, and dark Lindt chocolate with sea salt, all from our handlebar bags. Feeling like we could manage to go on, we did. Of course, within a kilometre, we came upon a small open restaurant, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. There was also a tattoo shop, which seem to be ubiquitous in this part of the world.
You Pedal, I’ll Nap
Along with our main meal, we ordered a starter of bruschetta. It came topped with the standard tomatoes and garlic, plus a bonus helping of prosciutto. Hrmph.
I decide, since the pig has already been killed, that I should taste it, just to see what I’ve been missing. I take the tiniest of bites and chew. At first, it just tastes like salt. And then there is smokey, meaty flavour and I can’t get it out of my mouth fast enough. I have to eat an entire garlicky salad before the taste is gone.
Before we finish our meal, a couple of cyclists ride up with panniers on their racks and an open, plywood box on the back of one bike. We realise that they have a baby inside. We have a little chat with them before they leave. They’re down from Budapest for a few days around the lake. They’ve toured before, but this is the first time with their son. Mostly, they say, he sleeps as they pedal.
Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
The Slow Road To Insanity
After eating, we set off at Stephen’s post-lunch post-beer pace. I imagine a speedometer on Stephen’s bike, the needle stuck on “dawdle”. In dawdle times, Stephen looks around at everything, going as slowly as he can without falling over. Of course, it drives me crazy. I try taking the lead to draw him forward, but just end up waiting at every nonsensical turn the bike path makes, which is every 500 m or so.
The path goes up and down a hill between the lake and the highway a few times before we get fed up. We stick to the highway for a few kilometres, ignoring the bike path. This is the fastest we will go all day.
About 5 km from our destination we spot a sign that says “Vinoteka”. Since this is wine country, we are obliged to stop, and Stephen picks out a bottle of red, grown and vinted (yes, I’m sure that’s a word) in that very square kilometre, to go with dinner.
The shop doesn’t look like much, but the wine was great.
We finally make it to the campground in Balatonfüred, which is another underwhelming specimen of Hungarian camping. Its main selling point seems to be that it sleeps 3,000 people in high season, though with plentiful cheap flights to Croatia these days, I doubt it ever fills up.
After another visit to Tesco (there are 11 on the lake, we learn, all open 24 hours in high season), we enjoy another home-cooked meal of vegan chickpea cutlets (a from-memory version of the PPK recipe) and potatoes a la Stephen. Delicious. ♥