Day 4 (drive) – Villa Romana Balaca, Lake Balaton, Balatonfured, Tihany Peninsula, opera – Barber of Seville.
The plan was to drive around Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe. Well, except for the EU wine lake or butter lake or cucumber lake or whatever stockpile they have as a result of the most recent farm produce fussiness regulations. But like all plans, it was subject to change, and changed it was. The Lake Balaton Ministry of Planning Changes has a convenient car ferry operation to take bad journey planners across from one side to the other so they can drive back to Budapest on a speedy motorway after pootling through country lanes all day.
First stop after an hour of pootling from Budapest was an old Roman villa with modern facilities such as flat screen TVs, flush toilets (free for visitors who paid the villa entry fee), and glass display cabinets for amphoras and random bits of old pottery. It was an interesting visit, and although obviously a great deal of work had been done to tidy up the ruins, the modern additions did take something away from the authenticity of it. On the downside, I guess if it hadn’t been renovated, it would just be a big pile of old stones.
So after pootling around the villa on foot, it was time to pootle off somewhere else. The guidebook said Balatonfured on the shores of Lake Baleton was a pleasant place to visit. The GPS took me to central Balatonfured which was nowhere near the lakeshore, and whilst not exactly unpleasant, was rather uninteresting. There was a pink church, and a market with a lid on it. Inside the market was a bakery with some sort of pastry I didn’t recognise. Not by sight, nor by smell or taste. Subsequent ablutions left me none the wiser either.
A bit more pootling and I discovered that Balatonfured did have a lakeshore section after all, with a pleasant marina area, boats and other nautical nonsense, and a couple of exceedingly amiable cafe lined cobblestoned streets. A few shuttered discotheques hinted at the potential nighttime debauchery that is likely to occur during the summer holiday season. But it was time for more pootling, no dillydallying about looking for debauchery.
A short pootle away was the Tihany Peninsula, with a charming tree-lined drive, replete with charming picnic tables, cycle path, and views of Lake Balaton. The town of Tihany was also pleasant and agreeable although the expression on the ice cream seller’s face when I asked for a chocolate-apple combination ice cream made me wonder if I had committed some sort of misdemeanour with that request. It tasted fine to me. Well, charming and agreeable to be precise.
But by then I had used up my pootling quota for the day, so off to the car-ferry which ferried me and the car to the opposite shore, pootle mode was disabled, and back to Budapest for a night at the opera.
The opera showing was Barber of Seville (Banana plonkie Slartibartfast in Hungarian). My neighbours at the show were shocked to discover that I didn’t know the story. Or someone had told them I had a chocolate-apple flavored ice-cream in Tihany. Anyway, I said it didn’t matter, all opera stories were the same: girl meets boy, and another boy, two boys argue about girl, one boy gets the girl, one boy joins the army. At the end I asked them what the opera was about. They said what I said. So I gave them the superior self-satisfied look I’d been saving up for someone after consuming my chocolate-apple flavored ice-cream earlier in the day (after the penultimate section of pootling in case you’d forgotten).
- 041 – Old Roman villa with modern tin roof and flat screen TV to the right.
- 044 – A pottery barn.
- 070 – Old Roman supermarket trolley. Ok enough about the stupid villa.
- 152 – Lake Balaton fishing area.
- 161 – A short walk from the fishing area, good luck eating anything you catch swimming in that goop. Not very scenic but it was curious.
- 176 – Pink church in Balatonfured. I won’t inflict the market photograph on you.
- 205 – Balatonfured promenade.
- 210 – Cobblestone street, gallery, cafe in Balatonfured.
- 227 – Vaszary Villa – art gallery in Balatonfured.
- 234 – Tihany peninsula drive and cycle path.
- 240 – Tihany has something called a Paprika House. Why? To sell paprika to tourists.
- 249 – View back to Balatonfured from Tihany.
- 293 – Opera audience.
- 318 – Opera performers – girl in middle, boy on either side. Also a spare girl, a couple of spare boys, and some soldiers.
- 334 – Opera House outside.