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Lake Balaton

The Hungarian Sea

Lake Balaton, vast, huge and incredibly precious to Hungarians is the second largest lake in Europe.

This is the Hungarians’ sea, their ocean, their place of summer pilgrimage, many have summer houses around its banks. I immediately notice the joy in the atmosphere as two young boys laugh as they cast their fishing lines from the rickety old pier. I walk on to find my piece of solitude at some small steps amongst the trees.

Bathed in minty, milky tones, this feels incredibly unique, there is an air of swimming in the sea without the salt water. As I watch my hands cut through the water I think about sparkling light through crystals. I can see everything and yet nothing, refreshed and yet warm. This is unfamiliar and yet strangely familiar, I have found somewhere that reminds me of my childhood. I lie back and watch the clouds overhead and feel tiny, floating on the surface the largest lake in Central Europe.

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City Social Hubs

City life of Budapest offers a rich tapestry of culture, food, relaxation and beauty.

There is a historical warmth to the sights, sounds and smells of the city social scene. City life of Budapest offers a rich tapestry of culture, food, relaxation and beauty.

It’s incredible that in the hustle and bustle of big city life there are magnificent classical spas in which to lose oneself in the refreshing thermal waters. A true indulgence and a delightful hideaway if you need time for yourself.

Then ready to soak up the sites, I visit the New York Café. It was easy to close my eyes and transport myself back to another time. imagining myself back in time to a world of high society socialites, artists and poets, which had once breathed life into its opulent gilded furnishings.

Then for a change of scenery, I discover a modern funky ruin bar in a trendy part of Budapest . I picture the residents who had once occupied the apartments either side of it, calling to one another, what did they make of it now? With its cool jazz, indoor garden and sublime food. Truly a place where history meets the future.

Evening was a great time for exploring outside space in the city, the river bank bars became alive while the air was warm and the sun was glowing. There was something soothing about watching water you have dipped your toes in flow past in a different context. A great time for reflection where I could reach out and touch the enormity of my journey.

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Tapolca Cave

Tapolca Caves are a magnificent protected cave system hidden under the little town of Tapolca. A precious gem secretly flowing below the many streets waiting to be explored.

After being hit by the warm smell of humidity I catch a glimpse of the azure water and forget everything else around me. I rush forward and I’m struck by its incredible clarity, I am told it is so pure that you can drink it and am sure if I were swimming I would be tempted to try. It feels fresh when I trail my hands alongside the boat, spotting several tiny minnows I can’t help but wonder how they got here and how they survive in the darkness.

As I pass through the cavernous chambers, guiding my way through with first the oar and then with my hands, my thoughts turn to the geology of the rock, my guide shows me the beginnings of the crystallisation process in a small section of rock, the passion he has for the caves has me asking question after question and I look up above me to see the roof is actually gleaming in emerald coloured tiny crystals. I am curious as to how something so magical remained a secret under the town for so long.

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Secluded Waters: Megyer-Hegy

One of the seven natural wonders of Hungary, often voted as the most beautiful. A former quarry, this popular hiking destination encourages geological and natural exploration.

Passing through plantations of elder, sunflowers and vineyards, where some of Hungary’s finest wine is grown, this is a beautiful rural landscape, rich in wildflowers. The mountain ahead of me is where I will find Megyer Hegy, a now flooded millstone quarry.

It is a steep, dusty ascent and is surrounded by a thick canopy of leaves making viewing the pool difficult but once you see the water through tall gorge it is both atmospheric and spectacular as the light falling onto its walls.

I lie on my back. The sun makes the surface feel warm, and I watch a diffused play of light on my hands.

Looking up at the sky, I close my eyes. I am in the middle of nowhere, yet the centre of everywhere, deeply conscious of the vastness above me. I think about the people who have worked here in the past and those who might visit in the future. I can smell those wildflowers once again.

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Historic Gems

Fisherman's Bastion, a fairytale experience overlooking breathtaking Budapest

Walking up the steps to the Fisherman's Bastion was like entering into a childhood fairy tale. The seven towered immaculate white terrace was everything I hadn’t yet seen and until I was near to the close of my journey that I discovered it. Sitting amongst the arches looking along the stretch of the Danube gave me a perspective of the scale of the city, able to witness both Buda and Pest at the same time.

Budapest is a sophisticated city full of beautiful architecture that spans centuries. Around every corner was another elegant facade or ornate balcony from which to imagine myself leaning over watching the streets below. I couldn’t help but be in complete awe when I caught my first glimpse of the Parliament of Budapest, majestic in both design and situation. Seeing the reflection of the building in the Danube felt a little like the water had reached the very heart of the city.

What stands out for me above all else, is the spirit of the Hungarian people. Warm, inviting and hospitable, locals truly have gone out of their way to make me feel at home.

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Gellert Spa

Gellert Spa is a famous thermal spa bath in Budapest, and one of the leading natural hot spring spa baths of Europe.

Architecturally chic and oozing history, I feel every bit a part of Hungarian history as enter my period changing room. Emerging complete with suitably authentic swim cap, I am transferred back to another time and place, an oasis of calm and apparent healing. The swimming pool is a converted winter garden and today the roof is open to the elements, which is blue sky and sun shine, the rays dappling the surface of the pool. Slowly breast stroking my way around the pool with the locals, for a moment I feel part of something truly wonderful.

The thermal pool is breathtaking, the Turkish influence is clearly evident in the mosaics and styling, this feels opulent on a grand scale and I can’t stop myself exploring all the walls and roof with my eyes, it is simply beautiful. I enter the warmest of the two thermal pools and at 40oC this also takes my breath away, it’s a little like my love of cold water there is a cross over between pleasure and pain. I find sanctuary in the cold shower and realise that this is actually how to do it and find myself back in the heat again. I may have found a little spot of paradise!

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