If you’re staying in Hungary long enough to venture outside of Budapest, Lake Balaton might be the best destination to head to. Balaton is split into two parts, that have very different characteristics. The southern terrain is flat with shallow waters and the northern part is quite hilly with the deepest depths of the lake. In the middle of the lake is located the most eye catching area, the Tihany Peninsula. The peninsula belongs to the Balaton Uplands National Park and is known as “Lavender Haven”. Atop of it, is perched a little village called Tihany.
The trip to Tihany was a bit like chasing the sun and escaping the rain. Driving there, I had Balaton and the sun on the left coupled with hilly landscapes and gray, storm-like clouds on the right. It seemed to me that the road separated each side. I preferred to look at Balaton bathed in the sun and I hoped the weather would hold fast. The sky rumbled and threatened but luckily, not one, single drop fell when I was in Tihany.
I hoped to see the fields of lavender, for which Tihany is famous for and which I had missed in Provence, France. Unfortunately, I found no lavender fields but one tiny one and, despite the season, it was not yet flowering. The field didn’t even look close to the spectacular lavender fields featured on photos on the internet. I just passed it, searching for lavender elsewhere.
The first place I stopped at was the House of Lavender. In front of the main doors I saw a few lavender bushes. Not what I was looking for, but at least my eyes saw something lilac. And this lilac colour even buzzed. A lot of little creatures made a summer holiday in the lavender stalks. I checked a small souvenir store located in the building and also checked the birds lookout point located next to the house. However, the only birds I saw were those looking at me from information boards.
The next place was the main landmark of the peninsula. Tihany is centered on a baroque Benedictine Abbey, established in 11th century by king Andrew I. The church itself wasn’t that interesting to me,what I wanted to see was the view terrace! I walked the stairs up to the abbey and passed by the church in search of the lookout point.
Few places have the ability to take my breath away but Balaton succeeded. The view of the lake the from abbey’s ,view terrace is breathtaking. From this lookout point you get extensive views of Balaton, which presents a kaleidoscope of colours. When the weather is sunny the waters of Balaton appear as azure and turquoise as Indian Ocean flooding the shores of the Maldives. It is quite magical to see something like this in the heart of Europe. It is hard to believe that any lake can have such colour. Balaton sometimes has darker spots as clouds that pass it by make shadows at its surface. There are also a lot of white sails to be seen in contrast to turquoise water. An idyllic picture!
After marveling over the view I walked down the stairs and strolled around the village. I fell in love with all the cute, little houses because they were tiny and cute and dressed in lavender: And of course, the gardens were full of lavender. Lavender is what attracts tourists. I can confidently say that they come like bees to lavender. The whole peninsula smells like this flower.
It’s unbelievable that these purple flowers have so many fans across the world. I was not a lavender-lover but in Tihany I surrendered to its charm. I fell into its spell so badly that I even tried a lavender ice cream, which looked like lavender, smelled like lavender but tasted like vanilla. I also had a lavender lemonade. Unfortunately, it didn’t taste like lavender (I’m not sure if lavender has a taste?) and was not even lilac but typically yellowish.
After my visit to Tihany I dream about having a flowerbed full of lavender under my future home’s window. Lavender which I would smell before going sleep, to have sweet, lavender dreams.