Published: July 6th 2007July 6th 2007
My decision to forgo the post-wine tasting karaoke event last night paid off. Apparently, the karaoke machine at the bar was broken (not that that would have mattered because I generally try to save people from the torture of listening to my tone-deaf voice) AND I got up at 7am for my morning jog. Comfortable with the route I ran a couple of days ago, I decided to keep it simple and run it once again. I stretched it out about .5 miles and went further into the residential neighborhood in town this time around. The conditions were perfect, actually on the cooler side, but by the time I got going, my body heat kept me warm throughout the jog. It’s amazing how 30 minutes can get the day off to a great start.
After the usual breakfast fare, we loaded the minibus and headed out for 2 hours to Lake Balaton (Northeast of Csurgo). Being a seasoned bus tour rider (based solely on the 14-day Tour of Italy that my college girlfriend, Joanne and I went on a couple of years back), I went straight to the back and claimed the seat with the most legroom. Court and
Diego ended up sharing the 5 seats with me, so there was a decent amount of room to kick back and catch some shuteye. The countryside of Hungary is very picturesque...probably not nearly as beautiful as the Italian or French countryside, but pretty nonetheless. Once we arrived at Lake Balaton, Court and I headed to the kiosks so that he could purchase a drink and I could take some pictures of the beautiful lake.
The boat, named “Sissy Princess” took us on a 45-minute cruise across Lake Balaton. The weather was clear and the sun was out. It was a peaceful ride, not bumpy at all. After that and a minor detour to get Court some ice cream, we loaded the minibus again and drove to a local restaurant located just on the outskirts of the lake. These non-hotel meals have offered me the opportunity to differentiate an otherwise monotonous Hungarian diet of chicken and pork. I ordered the grilled pike perch seasoned with mushrooms and dill. My appetizer was the pickled cucumber salad and the starch I selected was gnocchi. Again, I was impressed with the freshness of the fish and the flavorful taste of the sauce. It
was nice to have a meal outside of the hotel once again.
After lunch, John McCarthy (from Boston, MA studying Divinity at Harvard University), Yujin, and I walked around the little town/tourist trap area, and then decided to relax at the sidewalk cafÃ© for some espresso and tea (for me). John worked in Sweden for a couple of years with an American company a while back and traveled extensively throughout Europe during that time. He recommended day trips to Ibiza and San Trope (when I am in Spain and France respectively). I intend to definitely look into those suggestions!
Following lunch, we headed back on the bus for a 40-minute ride to Mendan Spa - one of the largest thermal spas/waterparks in Hungary. These spas are extremely popular in Hungary and many families make it a weekly outing. There are multiple water slides for both kids and adults alike, a heated thermal spa, whirlpool spas, cooler waiting pools, saunas, steam rooms, and massage rooms as well. We arrived at 3:45p and had until 7p to explore the grounds and partake in this popular Hungarian cultural activity. My roommate Suzanna and I tried to book massages but they ended
up being more expensive than we originally thought, and we didn’t have enough cash with us to do more than 15 minutes each. So we met everyone back at the main pool and hung out for a while. After a half an hour of that, I followed Peter, Jeff, Ben, Suzanna, and Chris all the way at the other end of the building to the main attraction: the heated thermal pool. It apparently is filled with all types of minerals, including the most difficult one to wash out of both my hair and bathing suit (sulfur), but it was definitely relaxing and soothing. After that, we walked over to the sauna and relaxed in there for 10 minutes at most. I enjoyed the Hungarian spa, but nothing compares to the Grand Wailea Resort and Spa in Maui (my absolute favorite and probably the closest thing to heaven on earth!)
For dinner, we got back on the bus and drove another 20 minutes to Restaurant Berenni Fogado. I had the cucumber salad (what a surprise!), pike perch sautÃ©ed with almond butter and green asparagus, and napkin dumplings (they look like huge doughy balls of bread, pasta, and potatoes - they
were actually quite nasty). I decided to ask for rice instead, which ended up being a much better choice. We took some pictures before we headed back on the bus for an hour drive back to the hotel. It was 10:45pm when we got back to Bolgogh and soon thereafter I fell asleep in my bed.
There are more photos below