We have memories from all across Lake Balaton, but most of the time a picture can say the most: photographs of the violin maker from Veszprém, the winemaker with the most beautiful view of the south shore, or the hidden lavender field are all like that. We rounded up our best photographs from 2017.
We went to see violin maker Elemér Sümegi, the maestro in breeches and with a very Beethoven-like hair, last summer. According to our photographer, talking to him makes you want to create instruments. We could (and did) listen to the master who works at Veszprém’s Salesianum for hours, and the details of his workshop are so captivating that we could barely stop taking photographs.
We just managed to get away from the impending storm when we saw Mennyország ("Heaven"), the house of chiropractor Péter Szemeti, as we were hiking around Szent György-hegy (Szent György Hill): the dark clouds first gathered above Szigliget, then stretched over to Badacsony, Gulács, and then Tóti-hegy (Tóti Hill) right in front of our eyes. Fortunately, we managed to steer clear of the thunderstorm, but we still captured its gathering.
Last August we went to see Zoltán Tóth, who studied liberal arts and then turned to honey, at his apiary in Bábonymegyer. The story of Zoltán, who sells honey at Zamárdi and Siófok, is this: after taking a detour at one of Hungary’s prominent liberal arts training, he went back to the house that his father built. “This occupation gives me independence, and what’s more important: it gives free time,” he told us between an ironic comment and a literary reference to Thomas Mann.
The 2017 World Aquatics Championships were held in, among other locations, Balatonfüred from July 14 to 30 – the town hosted the open water races. The tracks were in the bay in front of Tagore Promenade where we managed to capture the start of the men’s 5 kilometers competition, in which Marc-Antoine Olivier won the first place.
The whole of Szent György-hegy is a wonder, so no surprise that we paid a lot of attention to it in 2017. We can’t decide if there’s some inexplicable energy at work here or we just believe it because we heard it so many times, but one thing is for sure: there’s no place more peculiar and haunted than Ify Chapel. We’ve been there multiple times and our photographer said that “we have to move there, that’s it.”
We discovered many new spots in 2017 and we can see that slowly but surely the region keeps renewing itself. The long-abandoned small pub of Balatonszőlős is almost a metaphor for this process: Attila Tálos with his local wines and Katika, with the stuffed paprika she makes in the kitchen, is a pair who resurrected Szőlősi Kocsma, a place that is now popular among the bankers of Budapest and the local handymen alike.
We visited the family winery of József Pócz when we were at Balatonlelle’s Kishegy. According to József, the south shore’s most beautiful view is from the terrace of his self-designed headquarters. We could list a few other places that would claim the same title, but we have to admit that seeing the fog-covered landscape, the terrace would really have great odds in such a competition.
The lavender field of Szent Balázs-hegy in Balatoncsicsó was created by IT expert Tamás Laszip: he wanted to save the strip of land in his backyard from getting built in or left unused. He learned how the French grow and look after lavender, he got the most beautiful plants, he built an irrigation system, and he ended up with a gorgeous plantations where guest were also able to pick their own lavender for the first time last year.
We found great restaurants in 2017, but since our best photos of meals and our favorite courses would fill an entire article, we decided to pick one of our favorites – which was taken at Csopak’s Márga Bistro, a place that was included on Magyar Konyha’s (a Hungarian culinary magazine) top 10 restaurants of Lake Balaton. As we see it, the traditional Balaton-selection keeps expanding with more and more restaurants that use local ingredients and modern technologies – and there’s also an ever-growing demand for these kinds of places.
We conquered the 364 meters high hill called Tóti-hegy this past spring: the seemingly invitingly sloping hillside made us realize that only the part before the top is easy to climb. Even though the hill has no resting spots, the silhouette of the former quarry and the abandoned cellars along the hike will make up for the hardships – just like the 360-degree view from the top.
Translated by Emma Póli