Lake Balaton is enormous! Hungary

Saturday, 16th June 2018.

Dave posting,

We were undisturbed in our free camping spot last night, there’s nobody else around, we could hear a slight gentle rumble of trains passing by occasionally but it didn’t stop us sleeping.

Lake Balaton is a major holiday destination with beaches, volcanic hills, resort towns and high-rise hotels along some of its 197km shoreline.

It’s the largest freshwater lake in Central Europe and one of the country’s top tourist destinations. The Zala River provides the largest inflow of water to the lake. It’s 77 kms long, 14 kms wide, with an average depth of 3.5 metres, the maximum depth is 11 metres. It’s approximately 40 times the size of Lake Windermere UK. The colour is the lightest sky blue you have ever seen, in fact in certain light it looks almost white, the photos might not do it justice. We think this remarkable light colour is due to it shallow depth and cleanliness of the water.

The museum is 50 metres away, it’s interactive and with a very good view-point over the vast expanse of water, we paid £4.25 entry fee. We quite enjoyed our time in there, great facts and information about the lake, life of the locals, it’s a shipping museum really, lots of info about its recent safety aids and development.

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Balatonfoldvar Museum

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The water is so light it looks white!

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not quite right!

On an average summer day there could be up to 100,000 people bathing, rowing and sailing here. In a matter of minutes the weather can change it a storm, a gale warning system is provided by the observatory of the Hungarian meteorological service in Siofok. The warning system is made up of 31 bright, flashing & revolving lights all around the edge of the lake, these can easily be seen in daylight and darkness from any position near the lake no matter where you are. A storm warning is first sent to the captain of the water police of Lake Balaton indicating the expected wind force and direction.

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View from the museum

The lights will either flash at 45 times a minute or 90 times a minute dependent upon the severity of the storm. When the signal system is showing the normal flashes of 45 then the wind will not exceed 40kph in the next few hours. over 60 kph it flashes at 90.

Lake Balaton is fantastic for bathing with an average water temperature of 22 degrees in the summer with highs of 27-28, now that’s incredible considering the amount of water here.

Afterwards we walk north along the paths to Balatonfoldvar for about 4 kms passing expensive houses that have super views across the water, we drop down off the high path and on to the lower shore side area, crossing the main railway line the weather today is better for us, warm but with a strong breeze, we could walk for miles when it’s like this. This whole area feels similar to a riviera in Europe but it’s not so busy, the private properties, rental apartments and a few hotels edge right up to the water, no doubt costing a lot of HUF’s! There are many jetties and laddered steps into the water.

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We stop for a paddle, Cathy the fish is thinking about getting in, maybe we will come back tomorrow suitably equipped.

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Come on in it’s warm!

The shady tree lined boulevard covers the sandy shingle paths, reminiscent of Paris, there are cyclists, parents with pushchairs, teenagers and families all out this morning enjoying themselves.

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Boulevards all along the side of the lake

The marina comes into view as we explore the area, this place looks popular with many modern new boats moored up. We are just 135 kms from Budapest.

Time for some refreshments, two small beers sitting on a jetty watching the world go by but the humidity has increased a lot in the last couple of hours, we’re melting once again, we sit in the sofas feeling totally relaxed as we chat about some of our adventures so far and where we might go in the next few weeks, we have really taken to this way of life, travelling, meeting new people, visiting and discovering places for the first time.

We’ve walked 10 kms today, not much really but were pleased we’ve done it in this heat, and now it’s time for tea.

Good night,

Dave

PS – some comments have disappeared from the blog, I’ve managed to put them here;

From Flyfishing adventures “Another wonderful place to add to our list. Thanks for sharing😁”

From Sally “Looks a lovely spot!”

From Dave “Hi FFFA, it’s a super place, we have really enjoyed our time here. Highly recommend a visit the Balatonföldvár museum, it’s got the highest view point of the whole of the lake. Thanks for reading our blog diaries. Regards Dave”

Our 10th country – Hungary

Thursday, 14th June 2018

Dave posting,

A small amount of planning for today took place over breakfast here in Osijek, Croatia.

Hungary will be the 10th country we have visited on this tour. As we travelled northwards through Croatia to the Udvar border crossing, we need to spend our last bit of cash – 225 kuna’s before entering Hungary, so we will top up our LPG refillable system and buy diesel with the remaining kuna’s in Croatia. Continue reading

Hot, hot, hot!!!

Tuesday 12th June 2018

Dave posting,

Blinking eck, Cathy is up at 6am, it’s really cool and almost acceptable for us Brits! After Mrs E has drank her obligatory second cup of tea and plotting our route we quietly, ever so quietly left the free fortress car park and our friends, Jeanne & Tai, until next guys bye for now!

Osijek in Croatia is our destination; an hour later and we are at another border crossing at Backa Palanka, Serbia, although this time it was very straightforward with no waiting or problems. On the other side of the bridge we turned right and headed to the Hotel Danav near Ilok for a break. This part of north-east Croatia is surrounded by Serbia on three sides. We are so close to the border that our phones don’t recognise we are in a different country, which is a shame as our mobile contracts allow data useage in Croatia.

We rest here for a while, it’s very hot today. I suggest a coffee in the shade, hopefully there might be a breeze off the river and maybe we could take advantage of the hotels free wi-fi, well why not? loaded up with all our electronic devices we find a table and chairs with a view of the river and a power point! I did ask before plugging ourselves in! Two coffees and two glasses of water arrive and we read, write and research. The hours slip by and we become peckish, let’s have lunch here, it’s a pleasant spot, not busy and we can justify the cost as we intend to free camp here tonight.

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Free car park at the side of the Danube, Ilok, Croatia

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Looking at the border bridge and Serbia

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Coffee break i n the shade but it’s still 29c

We decide to move on and not stay here, nothing wrong with the location, we just wanted to get to Osijek, we set off at 3pm, maybe it was a mistake not to stay here, we are driving in to the sun and the heat intensifies as we travelled, Cathy was melting, we can’t believe it’s 37 in the van, the air con can’t cope, the air outside is hotter than inside, so there’s no point opening any windows. We pull over for fuel and a chilled drink from the garage, Cathy is not feeling well and we needed to stop. We can’t contain our excitement at spotting a LIDL, another reason to stop, shop and cool down! we love Lidl!

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In the cab, how hot is it ??? unbelievable!!!

The forecast is 95-99% humidity, we are eager to get to Osijek, get out of our very hot van, set up camp & cool down at another free spot by the river. The car park is huge, it’s almost deserted, no signs about payment or restrictions, park where you want kind of thing, there’s plenty of grassy areas, it’s part tarmac, part cobbles, level and thankfully there’s lots of shade from the large number of trees.

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Osijek parking

Now it’s 10pm and it is still hot at 28 at this time of night! it is such a still evening. We are tired, a little frazzled and we can’t be bothered to eat, so we lie down on the bed and try to relax in the heat. The nearby fairground is pumping out music in to the still night. We are restless, suddenly at midnight the wind appears from nowhere blowing cool air through the trees, we lie there with the windows fully open enjoying the coolness, it feels so much better now! A storm quickly follows and as the temperature drops we fall asleep.

Bye

Dave

 

Big hand, little hand, Novi Sad, Serbia

Saturday 9th June 2018

We left Belgrade last night and headed for Novi Sad, our chosen camp was Coffee Kamp 75 kms away and we didn’t mind driving this late or in the heat as we figured with the windows open we would be better off than sitting in a hot van at the RV Centre, the air con isn’t doing much good at the moment either, when we arrived at the camp it was about 9 .10 pm, there were electronic gates with an instruction to call a number, We tried and an automated voice in Serbian spoke to us, we considered parking outside the gates but I didn’t want the owner charging us €20 at 7.am when he opened up so we moved on, finally nearer to Novi Sad I spotted a huge store next to the river much like a Costco and there were delivery lorries parked up, we drove down to it and decided it was ok for an overnighter, it was late and we just needed to go to bed, this morning we called ahead to Farma 47, luckily Dave’s phone worked this time, the lady spoke good English and told us her husband would be there to open the gate.

On arrival we were greeted to the sight of a lovely orchard and the owner explained that the trees were quince, he showed us into a homely undercover area and took us into the campers’ kitchen which was huge, cooker, sink, microwave, draught beer on tap! Just write down what you’ve had in his little book, Dave is impressed, we try it and it’s lovely and cold too! Oh, dear this could get dangerous!

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Farma 47, help yourself to draft beer

We have a little chat to the guy using google translate and his bit of English, I tell him we are going into Novi Sad this evening as it’s cooled down and he arranges a taxi for us at 4pm and to bring us back at 9 pm, he calls his wife for her to translate it to us, he says €10 each way but she doesn’t agree, it’s approx. 12 kms, oh well we will wait and see what happens. Taxi arrives on the dot at 4pm and when he drops us at the theatre square he says that it’s €10 as agreed with Farma 47 man!

We wait outside the National Theatre for a free walking tour of the city, meeting up with our guide Jovana and a guy called Nishant from Malmo in Sweden who is also taking the tour, it was a lovely evening spent walking around the city and hearing the stories of Novi Sad, the city is small and calm with a youthful vibe mostly because it’s children’s festival week, held in June & December and there are little ones everywhere, music is playing and there is laughter everywhere. It feels homely, Jovana was a good guide not rushing and allowing us all to chat too, it’s nice like that when the group is small, there are some beautiful buildings of pastel colours, little alleyways with cafes and restaurants and cool courtyards.

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Childrens festival Novi Sad

The children’s festival is named Zmaj after Serbia’s most famous poet and writer Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj (1833-1904) although a physician by profession he is best known for his children’s poetry, and today his nursey rhymes are sang all over Serbia. There is a statue to commemorate Zmaj in Novi Sad centre outside the Bishops Palace.

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Bishops Palace and Zmaj statue, the childrens poet

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street art

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makes a drab corner interesting
The tour ended at a statue on the Danube overlooking the fortress high up on the hill in the old town, the statue was to commemorate the 1,250 sent to their deaths under a fascist Hungarian occupation in 1942, several hundred citizens were shot and many interred in concentration camps, many evicted from the town and made to cross the frozen river, they never made it across falling through to an icy death.
Jovana told us about the clock, on the tower of the hill, it has it’s fingers the wrong way around, big hand for hours and small hand for minutes. This was to help the fishermen and sailors on the river to see the hour from a great distance.
Jovana had recommended several eating places and one of them Dave could not resist, chips and cheese in the Irish Pub! Jovana says there is a lovely courtyard and to ask for the local home-made chips and not the Nachos.

[caption id="attachment_2171" align="aligncenter" width="450"]chips mmmm, needs no explanation!

We had time to spare for our 9 pm taxi so we strolled around leisurely, we sat and had a glass of red wine and it came chilled, I’m not complaining anything cool in this weather is ok with me.

The next day was spent blogging and chilling out, the farm has goats and sheep, and a few came to visit Dave whilst he was working, they ate all the plants in the pot too until they were herded away by the gardener, Dave enjoyed a draught beer or too!

We have arranged to meet Jeanne and Tai again tomorrow in Novi Sad, they’ve decided to come here for a visit as it’s not far from Belgrade before heading Southwards on their adventure.

Later that evening the lady comes to collect the rent, she will not be here tomorrow, and we can make our own way out, whilst she’s chatting she tells us they do not have mosquitos here but we know they have lots of flies, normally I hate flies but these are preferable to the bitey mozzies!

Goodnight,

Cathy

Chilling with our travel mates

Monday 11th June 2018

Woke with huge red lumps, the lady at the Camp Farma 47 said they don’t have any mosquitos, not sure if they’re mozzie bites but they itch like mad grrrrr! Ourselves and Jeanne have both decided to stay at a free parking spot on park4night, (N45.25195,E019.868161),  we met them in Novi Sad at the side of the fortress under the clock with the dodgy fingers, we are all sweating even Jeanne and Tai and they are used to hot weather being from South Africa, we went and had breakfast together, Tai made light work of a big fry up and Dave tried a custard slice type cake recommended by the guide from the night before, he washed it down with cold beer, we took our time and spent a couple of hours in the shade discussing travels and life. We can’t decide what to do, beach, fortress or town?

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a long leisurely breakfast with good company

It’s too hot for decision making and too hot for walking, we tried to go into the fortress museum, but it was closed for cleaning.

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Cathy & Jeanne taking in the sights

On the site of Petrovaradin fortress archaeologists have discovered that the history of the locality is more than 2000 years old, inhabited by the Celts in the 3 & 4th century BC, the Romans in the 1st century AD, the Turks had a go in 1526, then the Austrians played their part in 1692, constructing the fort now known as Petrovaradin fortress and is said to be the most preserved fortress in Europe, it was demilitarised in the 20th century.

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Petrovaradin Fortress and the clock tower

There are 16kms of underground corridors spread over 4 levels, it was considered unconquerable as it covers 112 hectacres, had 13 gates and 400 cannons, it was given the nickname Gibraltar on the Danube.

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overstaffed maybe?

Jeanne and Tai are on their bikes, Jeanne took hers back to her van Miles McFlattery and Tai brought his over the bridge and into the town, we wandered around the pretty streets and crashed out in a pretty little alleyway at a bar in the shade, literally melting! Tai went whizzing around on his bike coming back with various bumps and scrapes and bits falling off his bike, he still has energy even if we haven’t.

It cooled just slightly so we set off to find the synagogue in the arts quarter and unfortunately that was closed too, not having much luck today.

Novi Sad is also famous for its annual music festival called the EXIT festival, each year in the upper town in July and thousands of music lovers flock here from all over the world and the campsites are rammed packed full, glad we will be out of here by then!

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Reggae at the EXIT festival!

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The Name of Mary Cathedral built 1892-1894

We all wash our feet when we get back to try to cool down, buckets and bowls outside but we don’t care.

Dave is fixing Tai’s bike, his bike rack has come off and his chain too, he shows Tai how to fix it and the box of cable ties comes out, they’ve also been dragged around Europe and of course he knew they would come in handy lol!

I wander on down into a field as I can hear a brass band practicing, sitting in the shade listening to them was one of those moments that you come across when your hopping from one place to the next, you never know what’s going to be around the next corner.

Jeanne and Tai had been to a pizza place the previous night so we all decide to go there, the wifi is good so Jeanne catches up on a bit of work, Tais’ phone has been confiscated but he’s happy to accept mine whilst his mums not looking! Pizzas were great and once eaten and work is finished Jeanne shows Dave some more tips for making our blog writing and photo resizing easier and quicker. Dave is very pleased, maybe now we will catch up!

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We ordered a medium pizza to share, wonder what the Large looked like!

Back at Pogo it’s hot and Dave and I will have all the windows open, our van is higher than Jeanne’s and she’s not so sure about keeping hers open, I can understand that, we say good night as we plan to leave at 7.am in the morning en-route to Hungary.

Bye

Cathy x

Zlatibor – Ski village and summer sports town-Serbia

3rd June 2018

Cathy posting,

Stopping for fuel this morning and Pogo is given a free face wash!

P1060420And he needed it too, even better Dave has managed to get a good Serbian map so we are all sorted, we can find our way finally and we are heading for Zlatibor and the scenery changes again back to softer meadows and extreme green pastures, we are surprised by Serbia its beautiful, its much like Montenegro but slightly rougher around the edges of the towns, the roads are mostly bad with more holes than a sieve!

Zlatibor is a very popular tourist resort in Western Serbia and it lies on the road linking Belgrade with the Mediterranean coast, Zlatibor means golden pine and it’s a big winter sports destination, a 30 kms long and 12kms wide plateau Continue reading