2018/04/04 – Hello Hungary


Wednesday 4th April 2018

Woke up before 7am to another wonderful sunny day and left our park shortly afterwards  – two sunny days in a row – wonderful!

3.5kms out from the border gates, we saw a continuous line of trucks heading for the border – they were at a stand still.  Fortunately there were two lanes so took the other one, for cars and soon were at the border gates. 

Handed in our Australian passports, our MOT and registration papers followed by a cursory inspection inside and then waited – and waited – and waited.   Seemed like an eternity before a customs official asked us to move over into the parking area beside the office and wait.

Romania where we had just left is a non Schengen country and we were trying to enter Hungary which is  a Schengen country and we wondered if for the first time, we would be stopped for breaking the Schengen rules.  Funny how you become worried when you are made to wait.   About 10 minutes later, the official came out, handed us back our documents and wished us a happy time in Hungary.  We are still no wiser as to why we were kept waiting.

Hungary has a population of around 10 million and a land mass of 93,024 Km2.

The official language is Hungarian but as Hungary shares its borders with Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Austria and Croatia many people speak several, languages.

The currency is the Forint (HUF) and there are currently approximately 195 Huf to the Australian dollar – quite a shock when filling up with fuel or grocery shopping and looking at the bill with lots of zeros on the end.

Another thing to watch out for – a very elderly gentleman on a tricycle on a busy roundabout

After travelling a while, it was obvious our dodgem potholes days were over (for the time being) as the roads, still patchy, were at least pothole free and we could travel at a good speed.

Didn’t strike a mountain all day and mostly went through flat agricultural country.  Towns we passed through were very modern compared to Bulgaria and Romania and were not as affected by the snow and rain we had been experiencing.

Arrived in Szeged only to find no spots available in the Park4night spot as the locals had taken every spot available – so had to reluctantly move.

Our campsite for tonight:  Szikos – GPS  46.2718N   20.0225E

About 15kms away, this designated Camping area only opens on 1st May and even though the boom gates were open, staff would not allow us to stay there even though we wouldn’t be using any of their facilities – all we wanted was to park inside the fence.  They were getting the site ready for opening in three weeks time.

We parked outside the gates in a beautiful forest area and were really happy we were not allowed in to the campsite as it was just so magic here in the forest.

Thursday 5th April

Still very flat and agricultural countryside but really green and lush.

Villages are more modern than Romania and Bulgaria with a more affluent feel to this country.  Fuel prices are similar with diesel ranging from $1.75 upwards per litre.  Food and alcohol are more expensive.

Our campsite for tonight:  Famalia Camping, Pecs

There is only one campsite listed near this town but it is published as not opening for the season until 1st May.  Thought we would try our luck as the weather had warmed up. Arrived to locked gates but as the pedestrian gate was open, wandered in.

Lovely treed campsite with concrete pads – some not too level.  Was met by the boss lady who spoke no English, however did speak German.  Said she was not open until May but after using my best German and telling her we were all the way from Australia, she gave in and said one night only.  She locked the pedestrian gate just after we parked and gave us access to the key.

Typed information provided in English was excellent and with Lidl and the bus stop into town only a minute away, we were soon on our way into town, only four stops away and around $2.00 each way each.

The central town square was alive mostly with university students and a few bus loads of German tourists so it was not difficult to see everything very quickly.   City Hall was amazing as was the cathedral and the many museums.

City Hall

Had a late lunch on our favourite gyros and local beer (quite a lot more expensive than Romania and Bulgaria) and people watched for some time.  Did lots more sightseeing before heading back.

The famous Gazi Kasim Pasha Mosque

Had a very quiet pleasant night in a very large space that I am sure come 1 May will be very busy.

Friday 6th  & Saturday 7th April

Thanked the boss lady for allowing us to stay out of season.  She was really lovely and proceeded to lock both the vehicular and pedestrian gates as soon as we went through – don’t think she wants any more guests until May.

Travelled through some beautiful countryside today.  A few hills now and then which were being ploughed ready for the spring.  There were rectangular patches of different shades of brown and green dotted across the valleys and in the bright sunshine (for a change) was just beautiful.

Shops are now selling colourful potted flowers ready for the window and balcony ledges and in many of the towns there is much activity planting these in public places.

Our campsite for two nights:  Balatonfoldvar – co ordinates 46.8455.   17.8658

Situated half way up the eastern side of Lake Balaton, this mixed parking place stands at the top of a hill with spectacular views across the lake.  There is a new museum here with a spiral staircase leading to a viewing tower showcasing views across this massive lake.  No services, however the museum has some free Wifi that reaches out to the car park.

The Museum and Observation Tower shaped like a ship in honour of a Hungarian sailor

Walked down to the small town along a path that is also a bike track.  Evidently there are over 200 kms of bike paths around the lake.  In fact the bike paths everywhere in Hungary stretch for miles and miles through and between towns. 

Our overnight view from Ziggy over Lake Balaton

We watched the yacht races on the lake from the marina and Boardwalk.  There is an international Laser youth sailing regatta on over the weekend which has brought young people from many countries as competitors. 

This is a great spot and wonderful little town so stayed an extra night for some R & R.