Hungarians are very proud of their various alcoholic drinks, burning chili paprika, greasy salami and little cheese cakes (pogacio?), but they are absolutely worshipping Lake Balaton. So no wonder that the beautiful blue-muddy-water lake is so packed with tourists that it is almost impossible to find a beach free of charge or a private spot on the coast for camping. But after comical clambering in marshy Hungarian reed and not less comical climbing over a few fences, impossible is nothing, and soon we were swimming free and camping with the breathtaking view on the whole Balaton from the famous Badacsony Mountain (on the photo). Visiting local wine cellars in small villages, the Tihany Peninsula, observing precious mosquitoes with nice Hungarians, loads of sunbathing and rubber-mattress-sailing — it really was a perfect vacation.
After making a tour around Balaton, we returned to Budapest and soon started cruising back to Estonia through Slovakia (Slovakian Paradise hiking!), Poland (Auschwitz and Birkenau), Lithuania (excitingly stormy Palanga camping) and Latvia (mmmmm…Karums). Long way home…
Oh well, honestly, we planned to drive straight home after Berlin. But somehow, once in Prague, and after the wicked nostalgic reunion with my old Voronezh school mate David (yes, he is still the same after 4 years!) and partying with Tomas, Helga, Klairi-Liis, Marka etc, we got so carried away that took the direction to Bratislava and ended up in Budapest. And of course, not just like that, but in a mysterious Kafka-apartment with Tamas, his family, two turtles and so much Hungarian hospitality that I still feel the purple taste of plum palinka in my mouth.
Tamas wanted to show us around and prove that almost every Hungarian has a private wine cellar or at least a personal peach tree and took us to the Eger wine festival with other crazy Hungarians Andrew, Rita, Djuri and Attila. Wine festivals are great, no doubt, but we all know what tasting 10 different wines in a row can do to us on a hot summer day, so we weren’t too surprised when Tamas kept on enigmatically babbling about “peach blossoms, Montenegro and another round of welcome shots”. The rumour has it that the poor fellow ended up sleeping in the bushes and being violated by a local wine merchant. Next day, after sobering in the hot thermal pools of Eger, he naturally denied everything.