Travel has taken on a whole new meaning in the last twelve months or so. Thoughts of boarding a plane and visiting foreign climes have been all but banished. Even travelling within the confines of our national borders has at times been impossible. The flip side of that though, is that we get more creative. Remember the childhood Sunday drives, when mam and dad would pack all the kids into the car and go somewhere. In our family, it was usually to my granny’s. But occasionally we’d go on a mystery tour. That excitement of not knowing where we were going was quite something.
A few weeks back, himself announced that a change of scene was in order. He suggested driving as far as Balatonfenyves, parking the car, taking the train as far as Fonyód, and then walking back along the southern shore of the Balaton. It was a blue-sky-and-sunshine winter’s day, perfect for walking.
The underpasses in both stations were like mini-galleries and added hugely to the notion that we were travelling and doing something different. I doubt very much that this was what the artists had in mind and I wondered briefly how many people stopped to look at them at the height of a normal summer when both places would be packed to capacity.
When travelling by train to Budapest, the section of the track that runs alongside Fonyód offers the best views of Badacsony, the table mountain (and I use the descriptive advisedly at 437.4 m (1,435 ft) that never stops reminding me of Ben Bulben in Sligo.
Add that to the marina with its row of townhouses that brings to mind the Venetian island of Burano with its more colourful terraced houses by the water. I regularly run the ‘if money were no object’ film reel in my mind and I could well imagine myself having a summer house in either place. And I can think of a cop or three who wouldn’t mind being stationed in Fonyód and having access to the assortment of police boats we passed.
Himself had assured me that there was a path to follow the whole way between the two towns and in his defence, from the train, it certainly looks that way. But it had been raining. And the ground hadn’t yet rid itself of all that water so in places it was hard going. Be it the muddy tracks that ran behind the marina or the gravel path along the railway track the stones by the lake itself that did a great job simulating walking in soft sand, or the forest-like lane in the suburbs of Fenyves, it wasn’t exactly a stroll in the park.
The views, though, were just what the doctor ordered. The dog park is quite sophisticated and the park further on has some interesting sculptures, too. When we had done the tour and started on our merry way, we hit a wall. No, not a real wall, but a bridge, with a gate in the middle. Locked. In my mind, we’d passed the point of no return. I hate doubling back. I’m all for pressing forward. But it seemed impossible. There was a fence but the gate in that was locked, too. There was no way through.
While I was slowly frothing at the mouth at this evidence of poor planning (remember, I’m menopausing – it doesn’t take much to set me off), himself asked a lady with a dog who’d been tagging us since we passed the cop station. She pointed to the fence. That gate’s locked, I thought. We’d checked. Climb it? Nah. Seriously? But then she walked over to one section and opened it slightly so we could walk through – a local secret it seems.
That said, we are pretty poor detectives. Once she’d shown us the way, it was obvious by the beaten track that others had used this egress many times before us.
Soon, though, we left the water behind us and hit the outskirts of Balatonfenyves. This was when I experienced a palpable change in time and distance. I’d barely noticed the kilometres by the lake but as soon as we hit the streets, I was transported back in time to the backseat of my dad’s Hilman Hunter bleating that annoying ‘How many more miles, Daddy?’ It’s not a long walk by any means – no more than 8 km. But that last part felt like forever. I tried to take an interest in the houses but I was flagging. Walking over those stones had knackered me. And perhaps subconsciously I didn’t want the trip to end.
We passed some interesting train stations and lesser-known beaches on the south shore that were worth noting. This is my reminder to make a day-trip to Bélatelep this summer, COVID-permitting. It looks like it could be a nice place to pass the day.
Google says it’s a 7-minute drive, a 13-minute train ride, or a 90-minute walk. We took our time and stopped a lot. I really felt like I’d gone somewhere and done something, that I’d travelled and had a adventure. The only thing missing was the ice-cream at the end. Nothing was open. But as that’s the extent of my dissatisfaction, this particular trip gets a 5-star review.