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Hungary: Budapest, Tihany
Tihany, Hungary: An expensive lake-side retreat
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
Sitting on the edge of Lake Balaton, Tihany is a pretty little town that attracts local tourists as well as those from Germany and Austria. This tiny town has inhabitants that enjoy the highest per capita income in Hungary. The homes out there are the most expensive too. But if you are a tourist it should not deter you to visit this beautiful little village.
We were touring Central Europe. In Hungary our base was Budapest. My friend Varga Tamas had organized a car for me. It was VW Golf. Compact, but good enough for the four of us for a day journey. The round trip to Tihany from Budapest was about 300 kms.
We were on the road at 10AM. The hearty breakfast would surely see us through for the journey. Since I did not have a GPS, it took me a while to touch the motorway M7. I was told that a toll for the use of the motorway was due. Well, I am not too sure about this fact as the car was from a rental company and they do have some kind of a yearly fee that includes travel on the motorways. Since the language was a barrier, I did not want to take a chance. I paid the toll at a petrol pump. The cost was HUF 1650. At the time of writing the official exchange rate was HUF 28 to a Euro. If you are hiring a car, you may want to double check the facts on road tolls.
Lake Balaton is a freshwater lake. It is the largest lake in Central Europe. As Hungary is landlocked, it is often affectionately called the "Hungarian Sea". The Zala River provides the largest inflow of water to the lake, and the canalized Sio is the only outflow.
In just about 2 hours we were nearing Lake Balaton. There are 2 approaches to reach the village of Tihany. One, by ferry crossing, and two, by circling the large lake. We decided to try both of them. The ferry crossing happens from a town named Zamardi.
It was summer time. Tourists were at their peak. After waiting in line for about 30 minutes, our car was put on the ferry. The cost to use the ferry was HUF1450 for the car and HUF500 for each passenger. In 20 minutes were on the other side of the lake. A little uphill drive brought us to Tihany.
We parked our car in one of the many private parking lots. The fee was HUF300 per hour. Thereafter it was walking for 3 hours to explore the village. We first walked uphill to visit the famous Abbey Church.
This twin-spire, ochre-coloured Abbey Church was built in 1754 on the site of King Andrew's church and contains fantastic altars, pulpits and screens carved between 1753 and 1779 by an Austrian named Sebastian Stuhlhof. They are baroque-rococo masterpieces and all are richly symbolic. The location offers an excellent view of Lake Balaton.
From Abbey Church we walked to the street that has pottery and ceramic shops on both sides of the road. Beautiful little works of art encouraged us to shop for a few souvenirs.
Tihany is also famous for the echo, existing since the 18th century. The echo has since abated, due to changes in the landscape. A part of the legend concerns with the "goats' nails", washed ashore from Balaton, which are in fact corners of prehistoric clams. According to the story, there was a princess with golden-haired goats, but she was too proud and hard of heart and was punished (cursed by the king of the lake): her goats were lost in Balaton, only their nails remained, and she was obliged to answer to every passers-by. Try your luck with the echo.
It was about 3PM. Time for a bite. And what could be better than trying the Hungarian Goulash? A large bowl of the thick broth, in one of the many restaurants, did the trick that kept us going for the remainder of the day. The rest of the afternoon, we just walked along the main street, appreciating the displays of many boutique shops and pretty facades of homes.
If given a choice, I would definitely like to spend at least a night in Tihany. Sadly, that not being the case, we turned back at around 4:30PM. For our return journey, we circled the lake and touched the motorway.
By 7PM we were in Budapest, ready to walk the Danube promenade.
Tihany Image Gallery Photo viewer
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