After three days in Ljutomer, at the tourist farm Frank-Ozmec, Tom & Fran were ready to move on. Staying at the farm had been relaxing, meeting new friends a bonus. I really had no idea where to go when we set off mid morning. Having looked at the map however I decided to head for Lake Balaton, a large lake not to far across the border in Hungary. Leaving Ljutomer and leading once again I followed the signs to the Hungarian border only a few kilometres away. Trying to avoid the motorways I took to the back roads, criss-crossing the borders of Slovenia and Hungary several times. Eventually I found the road that would lead us towards the lake and after a pleasant drive through beautiful countryside, spoilt only by a heavy rain shower, we arrived at the southern edge of Lake Balaton, a large shallow lake in the west of Hungary it is both a popular tourist destination and wine producing region.
There were a number of signs for campsites as we drove alongside the lake, but I thought I would look for a free camp if possible. I saw a parking area and noticed a couple of motorhomes parked up, they were French and enjoying their lunch. It looked like a good place to stop. Tom needed fresh water and neither of us had any local currency so we decided to find a bank, some water and some diesel for Tom then return to the parking area. We found an ATM machine and a small supermarket only a few hundred metres away, but no water. We drove a few kilometres finding two garages, but neither had a fresh water tap we could use. Driving along I'd noticed a small park and thought I saw a water font, we went to have a look. There was a water font but it was several metres from the closest point we could get the campers too. Tom rummaged in his storage lockers and found his long hose and it was just long enough. Much to the amusement or concern from a lady shop owner standing near by. We filled up, there was a police station opposite, but no one came to tell us off. With full tanks of water and some diesel for Tom we returned to the parking area alongside the lake. The French motorhomes had left and we able to park up with a great view over the lake. There was still a small Volkswagen camper and a larger Motorhome parked up, but both had left by 7 pm. There were no signs saying no motorhomes so we thought we'd stay, even though everyone else had left. After dinner we walked a couple of hundred metres to a bar and enjoyed a couple of beers, the staff were friendly and they didn't seem to think staying in the parking area would be a problem. The main Hungarian holiday season doesn't start until July so there were very few people about. Leaving the bar we walked back to the campers, Tom & Fran wanted another drink, I'd had enough, so I left them to visit another bar and said goodnight, hoping we wouldn't get moved on by the police during the night.
We weren't moved on and had a peaceful night, although Tom & Fran didn't appear until late in the morning, Fran said she was tired and Tom had a hangover. It was another hot and humid day, I went for a bike ride, about 10 kilometres, which I enjoyed. I relaxed during the afternoon and by early evening was feeling hungry. I suggested we have a meal in one of the nearby restaurants, prices seemed very reasonable. We sat outside at the back of a restaurant looking out over the lake and enjoyed a huge meal. I had a couple of glasses of red wine as well, my bill was €8 it was hardly going to break the bank. Returning to the camper I slept well, waking to the sound of a passing train and the light from the beautiful early morning sunshine. I took another bike ride, much the same as the previous day, it felt good and I felt I could do with the exercise. Around lunchtime a man came up to us and introduced himself as Dieter, a German man who who lived nearby and keen to talk to travellers. Dieter was a very well travelled and educated man, who at 75 was still fit and full of life. He has travelled the world and lived in a number of countries. In past years he has run a boat charter business with his wife, who sadly passed away six months ago, he told us. Together they toured America in an RV for quite a while, and have lived in various American States over the years. Having chatted for awhile, Dieter invited us to his house a few kilometres away, offering to pick us up in his car and bring us back. We sat on the terrace of Dieter's house talking and drinking the local white wine. A Swiss couple, long term friends of Dieter's turned up and we spent a pleasant couple of hours swapping travel stories and the like. Dieter knew Greece and the Greek Islands very well having spent some twenty years sailing his boat there with clients. He said he didn't think it was a good idea to over winter in Greece, possibly with the exception of Crete. It has made Tom & Fran even more undecided about the coming winter.
Dieter drove us back to the campers and having thanked him for his hospitality and said goodbye we walked back to the restaurants where we enjoyed another cheap, tasty and filling meal. Feeling full and satisfied I went off to bed and was soon sound asleep, waking once again to a beautiful sunny morning. Tom & Fran were ready to move on, I thought we would drive along the lake a little further and find somewhere else to park up, but they said we should go all the way to Budapest, which surprised and upset me a bit. We are on the beautiful Lake Balaton free camping but they wanted to drive to the far end of the lake, continue to Budapest and find a campsite, where we would have to pay €20+ a night. It meant we would pass by the lake without seeing it properly and once again whizzing through a country in a short time. I tried to explain that we were rushing far too quickly and seeing very little.
I'd emailed and arranged to meet up with some people who I'd met last year while cycling the Danube. It meant Tom & Fran would be on there own for a couple of days, which hopefully will give them a chance to think seriously about what they want to do for the winter, particularly after Dieters comments.
So with lots to think about, we left our spot by the lakeside and drove along the lake towards Fordyn. Fran wanted to buy groceries in Lidl's and Aldi's and Dieter had told us there were both in the town. After shopping we parked up and had lunch. Fran said she had seen a sign for a Tesco's supermarket and thought they might be able to buy some maps or guidebooks there, we went to have a look. Finding nothing I took the lead again, driving to the lakeside, and found a parking area next to a marina at Balatonboglar. It seemed a good place to stay for a night or two. There was a campsite close by but as it cost €15 a night, a little less for me being on my own, Tom & Fran decided against. We went out together for a drink after dinner to a couple of local bars. Three glasses of wine cost me €3, hardly expensive.
The sun setting over the lake was beautiful the lake reflecting the flaming colours the sun made on the clouds, it promised a fine day to come, alas it wasn't to be. Having settled down for the night and fallen to sleep after reading a few pages of a book, I was woken by the sound of rain drumming on the camper roof. I lay in bed with my book and a cup of coffee until 8 am, but the rain continued, the sky dark and heavy with more rain. So much for the saying "red sky at night shepherds delight".
Tom & Fran were keen to move on again, but we had no idea’s about where to go. We still had a good many kilometres of Lake Balaton to drive along. Tom looked at his map and noticed a smaller lake some 50 kilometres away and suggested we head for that. I let Tom take the lead. Tom was following his GPS and a few kilometres from the smaller lake the directions told him to take a motorway. Neither of us had a vignette for the Hungarian motorways and getting caught without one could be costly. Backtracking and taking another route would have taken quite some time and it was getting late. I looked at the map and noticed a small town called Adony, which wasn’t too far away and next to the Danube River. I thought there could be a place to stopover. Arriving in Adony I checked out the riverside, but apart from a small grass area near a ferry landing stage there was nowhere to stay. However on the edge of town and about half a kilometre from the river we found a grassy area near to some houses, I asked at the nearest one, the owner said we could park up and spend the night, there would be no problem, we settled down for the evening. Tom and I took a walk around the town, finding a small bar where we enjoyed a cold beer. Tomorrow we will move on again.
It seems I've been travelling all my life. For the past eight years I've been following a simple, nomadic lifestyle full time touring in a camper van and meeting with other like minded travellers.
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