On the southern shore of Lake Balaton is the town of Siófok. Some call it the “capital” of Lake Balaton, as it attracts the lakes largest crowds during the summer season. It’s an old place, going back to the neolithic era, but popularized by the Romans. During the soviet era, the town was a popular meeting point for German families divided by the wall. Interestingly, it was Hungary’s defiance to the soviet system in the welcoming of these travelers that was yet another nail in the coffin of eastern bloc.
Saturday late morning was cool and sunny and extremely peaceful. Other than a few sunbathers and boaters, the area was very quiet. The main beaches were closed down weeks ago, so while we were there, the town and lake shore seemed almost sleepy.
We decided to take a walk down the promenade that was very much like an Atlantic boardwalk. There were hundreds of closed down clubs, food stands, shops, tattoo parlors, game rooms. Instead of the signature Thrashes Boardwalk Fries there was Langos Land and places for “cooling” shots of palinka. I can imagine that during the summer the place was absolutely mobbed with the boardwalk crowd. I started calling the place Ocean City– or rather a ghost town Ocean City– and for those of you familiar with the Maryland coast, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Luckily the town’s signature sculptures were still available for Gyorgyi to pose with each of them (and without even having to wait in line for her picture with the public art!)
We decided to have a gyro at the only open stand and sit on an empty bench right next to the water. It was a lovely decision because the sun was just warm enough to either wear or not wear a little jacket and the water was so blue/green it seemed still like summer, though without any of the noise. Then this guy:
Yeah that guy was rockin’ that speedo hard core. I can’t believe he wasn’t freezing, but he wanted to take a dip I guess. More importantly, you can see how shallow the water is at Lake Balaton. You can walk out for maybe a hundred yards or so and the water still won’t be over your head. It’s good to accommodate the massive crowd that goes to the Hungarian Sea every summer.
And because Gyorgyi has recently turned into that crazy pigeon lady of Central Park (only with dogs) these two little fellas came up to her while we were sitting.
And they stayed to beg for food for a long while before running back to their unseen masters.
We stayed a bit longer and let our eyelids dim in the early afternoon sun. After eating we walked a bit more among the trees and their falling leaves and Gyorgyi took a few more pictures with friends.
I suppose this entry can’t really serve as some kind of review for Siófok because it in no way represents what it would be like in July. If you want to go in September, then I would highly recommend it. It’s peaceful and simple. In the town there are many other open restaurants and shops (just not right next to the lake) and without the crowds, it’s easy to walk and see and eat and just relax. I’m not so sure I would be a Siófok supporter in mid-summer, only because me and the ocean-city type are like oil and water. But if you are in Hungary in the summer and are looking for the place along the lake with big beaches and big parties, Siófok is definitely your lake town.