I have no sense of direction and had it been left to me to find our way to the lakes in Szombathely, I’d have called a taxi and saved myself the angst. But with the inimitable KG in charge of navigation we set off on what was to be a hot and somewhat torturous journey for me but with its reward looming at the end.
It was so hot that even the minnows took shelter under the willow trees. Szombathely lies by the Perint and Gyöngyös streams, where the Lower Alps meet the Little Hungarian Plain.
It is the only place in Hungary that has been continuously inhabited for 2000 years. Legend has it that residents of Szombathely, fleeing from the Huns, went to Italy and founded Venice. I wonder what the Venetians think of that!
The lakes ( there are two) are a haven for boaters, fishermen, swans and ducks. There are plenty of seats and places to stop along the way and despite the ice-cream stand closing when the sun was as its peak, the place seemed normal enough, although again, I was struck by the lack of people and again I wondered where everyone was.
There’s a beautifully sited restaurant right on the shore that makes the best hazi limonade I have ever had.I was tempted to just stop there and not move until the sun went down and I’m sure that with my book and a some lemons, I’d have been quite happy. But the noise of people woke me up and tempted me forward. Life! Inhabitants!
Dragon boat races on the lake! What looked suspiciously like a team-building event with people in same colour t-shirts and dopey hats, was well underway . I’d never seen one of these dragon boats before and slightly in awe of the energy they could muster to row to win. Did I mention I how hot it was? But we were almost at the end of our walk – and the baths.
Day passes without access to the slides were a meagre 1200 huf – considerably less that what I’d pay in Budapest to spend the day at Palatinus. The pools had plenty of room and there was ample space to sling a towel in the sun or in the shade of some old pine trees. There were plenty of people but nothing near what I’d have expected. I reckon that this will be one of Hungary’s unsolved mysteries: Where do the people of Szombathely go?
Given how crowded Budapest’s baths are these days, it’s almost worth the three-hour train journey to Szombathely to have the space to swim and move around. Almost!