Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tihany, Hungary (Lake Balaton) -- Surprise Birthday Getaway (2 of 4)

The week had been long.
Birthday "months" are not a game for the weak of heart.
After enjoying the Part One of my birthday month, it took a few days to recover and get our wits about us.

Also, somehow we had scheduled dinners or some form of social gathering on Monday evening, Tuesday evening, Wednesday evening and Thursday evening of the following week.

To further contribute to the week's event, I was temporarily ending my mini-retirement, and was substitute teaching at Fancy's school on Thursday and Friday.  I gained a new appreciate for Fancy coming home from school tired.  For the record, you can call me Coach Perzel -- High School PE teacher.  It was a lot of fun to spend time at the school, interact with some of the students and see where Fancy spends all of her time.

"How do you feel about getting away for the weekend?"

Fancy proposed this question while we were sitting at her desk on Friday afternoon after school had ended. She had just returned from a field trip into Budapest with the entire 6th grade and I was glad to see her, since she has been my go-to question answerer when I need to ask about something student-related (which was often).  Apparently, students like to take advantage of substitute teachers.

As a neighboring teacher walked by in the hallway, he overhead us talking about visiting Lake Balaton. If we were to visit, he suggested the village of Tihany. Just like that, it was decided.  We booked a small little apartment/home for 30Euro/night within 15 minutes.  We didn't know much about the town, and had never been to Lake Balaton before, but we'd heard the rumors and praises from it's multitude of fans.

It seems to be one of the only (and best) summer get-away spots in the country.  It's a large lake west of Budapest (random fact: the small Mediterranean island of Malta can fit inside of it).  The lake is dotted with small towns and villages along the edge.

In general, Fancy and I really enjoy visiting the smaller towns in the countryside.  There's something calming and relaxing about getting outside the city, especially Budapest.

The journey to the lake started early Saturday on a train that absolutely was leftover from the Communist era.  Even the local Hungarians were bashing the quality (and lack thereof) of the train.  We learned that Hungary actually has two sets of trains -- the updated trains that are used during the summer, busy months, and the poor, worn, leftover trains apparently used during the less-busy seasons.  Guess which one we got?

 Let's just say we were very nervous when we discovered we had mistakenly sat in the first class seats of the train.  If this is what first class looks like (it left a lot to be desired) how bad is second-class going to be?

Broken windows?
Sitting on the ground?
Will we have to stand (my constant fear!)?

It turns out it's exactly like first class, maybe without as frequent cleaning. Needless to say, we wouldn't be arriving in Tihany in luxury.

However, as soon as the train departed from the station, it immediately reminded us of the relaxing, hypnotic trance of riding a train that we both love.

Fancy did not apply the graffiti artwork.

When we finally arrived in Tihany we were all smiles.  The first thing I noticed was the brilliant blue of the lake.  From Georgia, we are accustomed to the murky green color of lakes.  It gets the job done, but doesn't impress you. This lake was very impressive. Secondly, the air quality was noticeably improved from the city.  I've always considered people telling about air quality a little hocus pocus, but now I'm a believer. I'm not sure if it's simply the air quality in Budapest is truly poor or if I'm getting older and appreciate good air.

To me, Tihany is a little paradise of a village.  It recently underwent a complete town renovation.  It was much needed because the village had not undergone any major construction since the 1960s.  Here's an interesting article about the town and apparently we might have been staying near Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie:

We spent the day exploring the small village which didn't take very long, but was extremely memorable and picturesque.  The town's claims-to-fame are it's lavender, paprika and elevated-location overlooking the lake.  Behind the village, there was a very small lake/pond situation that we quickly dubbed "the lake within the lake".  From the dock, we sat with a bottle of wine and while the bell tolls rang from the baroque church above, we enjoyed one of the most memorable sunsets I've every experienced.  32 is feeling good.

Here's how they keep the bus schedule in Eastern Europe.

This qualifies as a lot of Paprika -- a Hungarian treasure.

Of course, the first thing I wanted to do was eat.  The view of our lunch was satisfactory.

The abbey that sits atop Tihany.

Finding Rege Cafe was difficult but the view...

Discovering our "lake within the lake".

Fancy never passes up an opportunity to project her shadow on a 150-year abbey -- swell of a good time.

At breakfast, we were literally the only other people besides one large group sitting at the same table.  We whispered to each other, it was awkward, but the breakfast was great!

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