Friday 26th of August Keszthely to Tapolca

Got a phone call from a charming Hungarian woman this morning with words of encouragement and advice. Lovely surprise and she also spoke excellent English (better than me although as others have pointed out I've lacked practice recently). Amongst other things she told me that the weather at the moment is exceptional and breaking records.

Hang on! So I spend two months walking through the Alps enduring one of the wettest summers anyone can remember and now I'm in Hungary enduring one of the hottest summers anyone can remember. What I'd like to remember please is some average, some normal!

Anyway today's walk definitely had three parts to it (all hot). A short but roadside escape from Keszthely; a long middle section mainly through forest but some open countryside at its end; then a really long roadside walk into Tapolca.

I suspect that the amount of roadside walking you do tends to be a product of how densely populated the countryside is and this, to an extent, is a product of how high you are. I remember when I was walking through Andalucia complaining about the road side walking (one infamous day involved 36 kilometres) and being warned that this common "in Europe" and to expect lots. As it turned out I hardly got any as most the E4 is through mountains. I'm getting a bit more now because it's lower and I think this is a busy part of Hungary. It's more of a pain than it would normally be because of the heat but the bus service looks excellent so I could always chop bits off if I was suffering.

The first 3 kilometres involved a walk out to the out to town shops - huge Tesco. Got my lunch there - slice of pizza and fruit, no chocolate, too hot - and bought a map, as advised by a Hungarian commentator, at the petrol station. Felt odd going into a petrol station as a walker. Then had to walk down a few hundred metres of seriously busy road where the gust of a lorry whipped my hat off - managed to retrieve it but not very dignified.

Busy road on the way out of Keszthely

At least I had nearly escaped Keszthely and after a walk through a suburb I was in forest. Final non forest bit actually was a trip alongside a rifle range where live firing was taking place. The side of the route was marked with red flags and if I had had a white flag I would have been waving it.

This stretch of walk is through what is described on the map as the Keszthelyi Mountains and which are about 300 metres high, just high enough to create a welcome breeze at the top. No real long views at this stage - all forest, initially oak, some old pine and then beech.

Huge pine trees

Breaking out from the trees was confronted with an enormous field of sunflowers all with heads bowed in the sun.

Sun flowers bowing their heads in the sun
The first village was Vallus. There seems to be pump near every village church, not sure if you can drink the water but it's a great way to cool off. In Vallus I was tempted to take my shoes of and soak my feet but in the middle of a village I thought it might be seen as a bit rude. Was disappointed in the dogs who were very half hearted in their barking, wanted to add to my "barking dogs of Europe" series of pictures, but as soon as I lifted my camera they turned shy.

Just past Vallus I got my first view of yesterday's Buddist Pagoda at Zalaszanto, must have walked 25 kilometres since then but such is the meandering nature of the route that it was now only about six kilometres to the north-west. The village of Rezi, past yesterday afternoon was probably 3 kilometres to the west. Got three kilometres closer to Budapest in 24 hours!

The route did start to head east after that and above Varvolgy I was able to get some of the longest views I've had so far in Hungary. In particular I saw Lake Balaton for the first time to the south and little mountains to the east which I think are ancient extinct volcanoes (the castle at Sumeg, yesterday's start point sits on one of these). With all the humidity in the air however the views were very misty.

Lake Balaton hazy in the distance

After ice-cream and cold drink at Lesenceistvand the final test was a walk along a hot and fairly busy road to Topolca. Not pleasant, the only good thing about it was that the ground was covered quickly.

Trusty Friend

Staying at a central hotel, the Hotel Gabriella, which has air conditioning. Brilliant. Got there at about 4.

It is great to be getting interest from readers in Hungary. The hits on the site have not been as high since I first started. Can I thank everyone who responded to my plea for advice on accommodation. Incredibly comprehensive. Have also had some direct help on arranging bookings. The most important thing is that I now know where I need to worry and where I don't.


  1. Dear Johnny Walker! ;) I was the woman who called you to lift your spirit a bit for today's battle with the heat and the concrete road.

    I do not know if you will read this comment today or next time you have WIFI access but anyway I do hope you will visit Szigliget Castle tomorrow on the road from Tapolca to Badacsonytördemic.

    The other thing I wanted to tell you after having read your posting above is that the pipe water in Hungary is not poisonous, you can drink from any of the wells you come across in the villages. To be very honest even some of the springs you will see on your trip have drinkable water - but probably this is not the right time for you to learn about it by try and err now ;)

    The last thing is that you can expose your naked foot in public if you wish. Hungary is not Turkey where it is an offense to show your sole. So if you feel like airing your hooves ;) feel free to do it!

    Keep on walking! The most beautiful part of your trip in Hungary is just coming! And from Monday it will be cloudy ... ;) Go Johnny Go! ;)
    BR - Tímea

    1. Hi Timea

      Hope you don't mind me contacting you again after all this time but an American couple have been in touch with me and are going to walk the Blue Route next month. I was wandering if they could contact you for some advice. I have talked about them on a recent blog Nick's email address is

      By the way thanks for all the encouragement you gave me

      Best wishes

      John Hayes (E4walker)

  2. Dear Timea

    For total spirit lifting shouldn't it be Johnnie. That's the Scotch for you.


  3. Hi John!

    They planned the Blue Tour so meandering because they wanted the route to visit the best places in Hungary. I know you know that, but you miss a lot of value by pressing on so hard, because the interesting things are usually not right on the road. I'm not sure so I have to ask: have you realised that in Keszthely you were within a stone's throw from Lake Balaton and that Hévíz has the largest termal lake of Europe with very good curative effects? Lots of englishmen would kill to visit it but you just went by it. :)
    On the Blue Tour I usually make daily roundtrips. I park my car somewhere near the stage, I walk to the start of the stage, follow the blue signs, and walk back to my car. Even so I miss a lot, so I already plan the alternative routes for when I finish the Blue.
    You also need an update on your Hungarian spelling. Just joking, you have enough of Hungarian spelling, so I leave this to the people you meet (the difference between Szeleste and szelestei come to mind). I hope you talk to people a lot. If you get across our shell, we are kind people, you can get a lot of insight.
    One more thing: be aware that the ticks are dangerous. If you are not doing it yet, check your body every day. They are so tiny, I got my second lyme-disease in a year, so I'm on antibiotics again.


  4. Hi Zsolt

    You make lots of great points. One of the many lessons of my E4 walk is the need to vary the pace a lot more. Much of the walking, through the Alps etc, is all about the views and the pleasure I got was from travelling from one view to the next (when it wasn't raining). Here it is different, the views are not quite as dramatic but there is often a lot more human interest. When I get home, and have more time, I add some notes to the web site and be clear what I missed as well as what I saw. It will always be partial however, as a traveller that's inevitable.

    Timely tick point as well. Got some in France and will be getting tested as soon as I get home.

    Many thanks for your interest and I'm sorry if my rush to Budapest means I'm missing the delights of your fabulous country, will definitely come back