Sunday 10th June
After last nights massive thunderstorm everything is a bit damp this morning and hard to get packed up without dragging wet limestone back into Miss Stella from bottoms of shoes.
Our plan for today is a bit of a drive by day, and getting to Lake Belaton by a bit of a circular route that takes in some of the Great Hungarian Plains east of Budapest.
These can be described as a mix of obviously very fertile arable farmland with some huge areas inn crops including sunflowers, (Towns such as Kecskemet, Soltvakert and Sukosd) then as it gets towards rivers greats sweaths of marshy type areas with the odd herd of Water Buffalo. And as typical with Europe, villages everywhere. I had hoped to visit one of the traditional (tourist traps) farms of the Puszta, (cattle farms with traditional Hungarian Cowboys). However with it being Sunday and trying to find them off the beaten track this plan did not come to fruition.
Late in the afternoon saw us still on the wrong side of the Danube and struggling to find a suitable wild camping spot. Impressions of these villages didn’t really fill us with confidence about pulling over and parking up. So we decided to leg it through to the lake, about another 70km or so on the motorway across the River (M9) and then onto the 63 from Szekszard through to Enying at the head of Lake Belaton. At this stage the closest site was at Siofuk (park4night), this was essentially a lakeside carpark, free and with streetlights.
Lake Belaton is essentially the summer holiday spot for Hungary. This is Europe’s largest and shallowest body of water and is surrounded by forested hills broken up with family vineyards.
The road completely encircles the lake and comprise numerous small villages as well as larger more tourist orientated towns such as Balatonfured, Tihany and Kesztley. We stopped off at Tihany with the idea of parking up here for the day and night. Firstly the Public car parking worked out to about 5euro/hr and it was absolutely chocka with bus tours, (a lot of these are day tours from the Danube River Cruises ex Budapest), we had the standard walk around and a bit of trinket shopping before getting back to Miss Stella before our hour was up and we were clamped.
About an hour on we came across a grassed carpark on the side of the road next to a “daypark” of the lake, swimming, ice creams , resturants, speedos and bikinis all behind a fence and having paid entry.
A pleasant afternoon spent here under the awning people watching, “the togs togs togs UNDIES advertisement should have been shot here” elderly gentlemen have no worries what so ever wandering around far from any water in their speedo’s.
This wasn’t a good place to set up for the night as very noisy due to train tracks so “park4night” led us to another more secluded carpark on he peninsular of Szigligeti. A great spot in a big carpark, very quiet and safe. Except for the cuckoo who started up at about 5.30am. Now having been in a few cuckoo clock shops through Austria, my god they have the sound down pat. Bloody persistent wee bugger as well.
Monday 11th June.
Having now been woken up by natures own version of the Cuckoo Clock, and the local fishermen who start at some hour still dark, we have decided that that is probably Hungary done for us and are keen to head into Croatia, today’s objective being the capital Zegrad about 170km away.
Motorways it is for this trip as well as a fuel fill to use up the last of the Hungarian currency, arriving at the Croatian Border at the village of Gorican we changed some Euro’s over in the local currency of Kune, (1euro : 7 Kune’s) as we are going to use toll roads into Zegrad.
Now this is the first border crossing that we have encountered with an actual stop and check. We were stopped and paperwork all gone through, I think it was a bit of a surprise that we actually owned Miss Stella, with NZ passports, UK registered van and insurance from Australia. No hassles but there is always that uncertainty when officials disappear with your passports.
Stamped all good, and made use of the motorway to Zegrad an easy trip. Had identified a large carpark nice and central to freecamp here, however it was chocka so instead have ended up in a carpark at Lake Junin, 10euro entry , stay for up to 5 days, (no services). Seems a very pleasant spot with sports activities all around and bars etc all lakeside.
However this city drive wasn’t without a very near mishap, our very first one and not of our making, we now have just about total confidence in Jacinda and her ability to get us through the cities and find as long as we don’t argue we are good.
So anyway back to the near mishap, driving along a 4 lane street minding our own business and in our correct lane, a frigging Black Range Rover suddenly cut across from the left lane into ours and then immediately goes to turn right into a carpark. As if that wasn’t bad enough, inconsiderate tosser, there was somebody coming out of the park, so the twat in the Rangey just stops. Fortunately my lightning quick reflex’s complimented by the swearing from Susie Navigator and Miss Stella’s braking power, ( only now have we confirmed we didn’t bugger the brakes back in Austria) we managed to stop millimetres from his back bumper. Normally when you say oh we were so close there is a bit of an exaggeration, this time however because we were looking down there literally was a cigarette paper gap. Once stopped and the noise of the cupboards rearranging themselves there was that nervous wait for the thump/crash from behind. Thank goodness this did not happen. However we did (that is Susie did) take considerable satisfaction at tooting him. F#$@ it was close.
Will spend tomorrow in Zegrad and then head towards Plitvice Lakes National Park before the Dalmatian Coast and Croatian Islands.