As a child we used to visit Lake Balaton almost every year. It was part of the family tradition each summer to plan a short getaway there. This largest lake of Central Europe holds so many sweet memories of mine – lots of water playtime, ice creams, pedalos in my early childhood; countless parties, festivals, (even a few week long catering summer job!) in my teenage years/early twenties; a half marathon, a hen-do (see lake getaway dress DIY) in recent years. Needless to say, it is a popular destination for inland travel for Hungarians but it also attracts a large number of foreign population from neighbouring or nearby countries. Thinking back I visited quite a lot of towns and villages in Balaton – some more often than others but whilst of some my recollection is fading, I think of this lake with a fond heart.
In the name of regaining my fitness and with the excuse of travelling back home to Hungary for a wedding, we planned a few more days to stay and set ourselves a challenge which I heard a few of my friends completed it before and apparently it is a very attractive lake activity for most – so we decided to cycle around the lake and beat 140 miles on our bikes in three days.
After the wedding and a rushed visit in my hometown, we headed to Balaton, rented our bikes and the adventure began. We started in Balatonfüred, we stopped to spend the nights in Siofok (cycled 60Km), Keszthely (cylced 90Km) and Tihany (cylced 70km) and paddled a few more kilometers back to Füred on the last day. Naively, I thought to complete it with a few hours of bike ride each morning, leaving us enough time from lunchtime to look around and do some sightseeing and sunbathing. Clearly, I overestimated my fitness level.. Instead we were setting off around 11 or noon time and cycled till 8ish with some lunch and afternoon ‘tea’ breaks, battled with saddle soreness, tears on uphills, thunderstorms and increasingly stiff muscles along the way. Also, I thought I would be cool enough to camp in the overnight stops but very soon I realised after the first night spent in tent that I wasn’t born for this which only resulted in us carrying the tent and sleeping bags around for the rest of the journey.
As much as I moaned throughout the whole trip, the extreme happiness was so worth it when we completed it! Not because it was over (!) but because of the sense of achievement. We had some amazing views throughout the ride, saw many different faces of the lake, grape fields, vineries, little houses. Even the feeling of being completely knackered in a strange way makes you feel alive. I am truly happy to have gained another lake memory. Thanks Balaton!