Thermal Camping and the Hungaroring

If anybody has ever seen that episode of the Simpsons where Homers gets Marge a bowling ball for her birthday with his name engraved on it… that pretty much sums up the morning of my Birthday.

After four days, we departed our cozy Budapest apartment. 20 minutes of smooth, fast moving  tarmac later and the world renowned Hungaroring, home of the Hungarian F1 Grandprix loomed into view.Rich at Hungaroring

The entry barriers were lifted at twelve (we were fashionable early) and having spotted the rapidly arriving mini-bus tour groups, we made a bee line for the central go-kart track. By ten past, we were just two of 30+ people all eager to get racing. We paid 16EUR each for 3 x 8 minute sessions including printed lap times which was surprisingly reasonable. The capability of the karts was also surprising and I did manage a couple of spinouts in the first session while I got the hang of the tight and technical track. It was a great atmosphere and when we were not racing we were able to sit back and watch the real F1 cars scream by during their on track test runs just meters from our seats.

Our (incorrect) route out of the complex took us via the service road which was also the site of some retro graffiti “Damon Hill is the best 1996” and “Schumi Winner 1994” which bought back memories of watching F1 on Sundays with my dad, eating bread, cheese and pickled onions. I’m not sure I was that into the Grandprix then either…

schemi winner 1994

At some point, I became aware that we were riding across what’s known as ‘the great plain’. To be honest, It didn’t look all that different from the last 300 miles we had ridden only it was much windier! The dual carriage-way was hard going as the gusts were side on and strong. Little did we know, our reward was waiting for us at our campsite in Berekfürdő; a small town, popular with Hungarians on their family holidays. We were given wrist bands for the pool (which we did not know existed) so made our way over to check it out. It was immense!

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As well as a kid’s pool with large water slides there was a huge outdoor adult pool for lane swimming and water polo. I was pleased to see it was a balmy 32 degrees and even though it was sunset, we had a quick dip. IMG_3597

IMG_3599Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a large congregation of old people with walking sticks in the distance which I knew could only mean one thing… Thermal mineral pool! It just kept getting better. There were two mineral-rich medicinal pools, each with water jets for an aqua massage. The naturally black tea-coloured water was kept at 35 and 37 degrees and must have been rich in silica as it was almost slippery.

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thermal baths berekfurdoWe wandered into the one street in town in search of dinner. We followed the sound of karaoke to a very dark outdoor restaurant. The Karaoke turned out to be live entertainment with a women singing Hungarian favourites along with a CD backing track and bowtie. It was a bit weird but the locals loved it. There were plenty of couples waltzing, groups of middle-aged women doing the middle-aged woman dance  and even some kids getting in on the action. 14EUR and lots of carbs later, we wandered back to our tent-by-the-river under the clearest sky. The milky-way was just about visible and I thought that all in all, I’d had a pretty solid first day of being 26.

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