The Hungarian Sea


It’s landlocked. It’s a fact, but Hungarians seem to enjoy calling Lake Balaton the Hungarian Sea. Whatever the case, I like it. It reminds me of Lake Somerville in Texas, that being that it’s shallow and a bit tepid (but not in late August when we got there to enjoy the end of the season).

Late August found the lake to be a bit on the cool side and not so full German tourists. My in-laws have a lake house in Balatonszemes. Many of the little villages/towns around Balaton are called Balaton something. Logical and easy for geographic placement if lacking in creativity and originality.

Balatonszemes is on the south side of the lake. This side is allegedly looked down upon by the “grander” north side. This is apparently due to the fact that the north side’s water is deeper and cooler. Well, the south side is the children and family side, so the tepid and shallow water is a win-win all around. Those geeks on the north side got nothing on us south side players.

According to my wife, Balaton is also slightly clothing optional. This comes in a few different forms. Overweight German tourists changing out of their swimming trunks behind a tree to naked children splashing in the water to young ladies going sans top. Of these three images, I can sadly only verify the first two. My son goes swimming like the naked little cherub that he is. Overweight German tourists do indeed change at odd times of day behind trees that don’t offer as much privacy as one might think (or care about). Now, where are these young nymphs that seem so disinterested in wearing bikini tops? Hell, I don’t know, and ain’t that just my luck! I’ll just have to wait for all the (supposedly) topless girls that litter Margit Sziget (island) in the hot days of the Budapest summer.

The odd thing for a boy from Texas, but also quite pleasant, is the general lack of motorboats on Lake Balaton. Instead, you see sailboats. There are also paddle boats, all lending to a quiet atmosphere. There are some tourists boats that are not powered by legs or wind, but they are few and far between and tend to keep the noise down as well.

I can’t recommend Lake Balaton enough, whether it’s Balatonszemes or some other place called Balaton-something. The people are generally friendly, the beer and lángos are cheap (now lángos needs a blog all its own), the summer weather and water are inviting and your evenings can be filled with friends and roasting bacon over fires. Add to this mix a plethora of fresh fruit trees filling up everyone’s gardens and you’ve got a pretty good picture of what you’ll find at Lake Balaton. As well, if you are staying in Budapest, the drive out to Lake Balaton is a rather beautiful one. It is all recommended and certainly enjoyable!

Just for some photo evidence, here’s my son and I splashing about on the south side of Lake Balaton….

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