Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pass the Balaton

The penultimate destination on our journey would be our longest single stop:  a week on the shores of Hungary’s Lake Balaton. 
The initial impetus for our entire trip was to introduce Miles and Leo to their Hungarian cousins, six of whom were under the age of 7.   (Miles had actually met two of them on his last trip to Hungary, for the Christmas holiday in 2007, shortly after observing his first birthday in Germany.)


Most of our Hungarian relatives live in the capital, Budapest--a lovely city but typically quite hot in August.   Lacking a seacoast of its own (having lost its slice of the Croatian Riviera to Yugoslavia after defeat in WWI), Hungary particularly treasures its 77km-long Balaton.   Much of the country decamps to its shores in the heat of summer.
We decided to emulate them, inviting the entire clan to join us for a week in a rental house on the south side of the lake.


Balaton is a huge lake, but notably shallow.  This is especially true on the south shore, where one can wade for half a kilometer before needing to even think about swimming. 

This made it an ideal spot to train would-be swimmers, including Miles, whose progress in swimming this summer was exceeded only by his own estimation of his abilities.
An armada of floatation devices also helped keep everyone afloat.

Smaller bodies of water were also available to the smaller bodies among us.

Miles tested his newfound enthusiasm for chess against some Hungarian masters, like his cousin Edina.

Motorcraft are strictly limited on the lake, making it ideal for exploration by shallow-draft sailing vessels.



For the most part, we had sunny weather and calm waters.   But Balaton is big enough to generate its own weather.   When the wind kicks up (often at the end of the day), it can be a sight to behold.

A system of warning lights starts flashing with increasing insistence, urging mariners to find a safe port to ride out the storm, while those on shore are urged to secure anything that could fly away (which turns out to be most things).


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