Bicycling to Badacsony

One of our last undertakings of our summer vacation at Lake Balaton was a biking trip to a town called Badacsony.  Badacsony lies at the base of an impressive hill of the same name.  The flat top of this vulcanic landmark can be seen from miles in any direction.  Here is a view of our destination, taken from our home on the morning of our journey.

Overall, the ride is somewhere between 12-15 km one way.  The ride is mainly flat, and Daniel and Panka managed the round trip ride with only minimal complaining (Matthew enjoyed the ride from a seat on the back of my bike, including a short nap on the way home).  The route follows the Balaton körüt (translation: circle), a 204 km loop around the lake.  Most of our ride was on dedicated bike paths, though the last part followed some less-travelled village roads. Here is a view of the Badacsony from one of the small villages at the base of the hill:

Once in Badacsony, we had a well-deserved lunch.  Badacsony is a fairly popular townn to visit, so it has a nice walking path populated with small food vendors, seen below. After lunch the kids all played on the playground and we enjoyed an ice cream (more on ice cream later…) before heading back home.  Here is a scene from the village:

Ready for School!?

Well we did some shopping for Daniel’s school today.  It was wayyy more complicated than I expected.  We had a list from the school of the things that he needed, and it was very specific.  It took a good 2 hours of wandering through the back-to-school section of Tesco (a WalMart-like BigBoxStore) to assemble all of the materials (though Dora just informed me that there are still 8 items that we have yet to buy).  Among the things we purchased were a bunch of small notebooks (with different pages — some graph paper, some for music, some for composition), math supplies (clocks, rulers, a pretend thermometer), a lot of writing/drawing/art supplies, and 2 pair of shoes (one for inside, one for gym).  Here’s all the stuff:


Last night, we returned from the lake to Budapest for Daniel’s Évnyitó. Évnyitó (directly translates to “year opening”) is the celebration of the beginning of the school year.  All of the students dress in black and white and gather in the courtyard of the school for a short ceremony.  From what I could gather, there are some remarks from the principals, an introduction of the new 1st grade class (there is no kindergarten), some oaths and the national anthem, and some recitations of poems and verses recited by some of the children.  Here are a few scenes from last night.

Daniel all ready for his Évnyitó:

Daniel and his classmates:









Scene from above.  All the 1st graders are seated in front:





The principal makes the opening remarks:

Balaton village churches: Balatongyörök

My father-in-law likes to drive to regions around the lake taking pictures of birds.  He has some great shots, but I could never really understand the patience it takes to get these pictures.  Lately, though, I’ve begun to understand better, as I’ve taken up biking to local villages to visit and take pictures of the village churches.  Every village I’ve visited, even if just a small collection of 20-30 homes, will have a church at its center.  These churches are usually simple, elegant structures.  I’ve been able to get to 5 or 6 different villages so far, and periodically I’ll share pictures from these trips.

The first visit is to Balatongyörök. Balatongyörök is probably the least traditional of the villages that I’ve visited, since the village hillside is situated directly above lake Balaton and is now populated by large vacation homes.  Still, the old church remains, with a great view of the lake (unfortunately, I couldn’t get any shots of the church and the lake because of the adjacent forrest).