church window in Koszeg

One of our last stops is Koszeg, a picturesque town right against the Austrian border.

We are heading home again, driving west. On our way to Sopron, we finally reach Hungary’s prime tourist attraction, the Balaton Lake, a warm water lake where it is pleasant swimming. No doubt, but not in October anymore. We skip the lake. We cannot even be bothered to walk up to its shore – we are winding down, more interested in eating fresh lake fish and drinking the local Olasrizling white wine, produced in the neighbourhood of Keszthely, where we spent the night.

the main square in Koszeg, pastel-coloured houses turned restaurants

where is was indeed pleasant staying… but, what is that, water????

But we do get to Koszeg, billed as one of the loveliest Hungarian medieval towns. Pretty square, with pastel-coloured houses, many of which are home to restaurants to cater for the tourists. A castle reconstructed several times over, in the name of Miklos Jurisics, the local hero who held out against the Ottomans – in 1532, according to legend with fewer than 500 men against 100,000 Turks. And pseudo-medieval Hero’s Gate, which not even pretends to be old, having been constructed in 1932. Makes you wonder how much of this loveliest of Hungarian towns is actually original at all.

street leading to the restored castle

entrance to the castle

the castle’s court yard

with the inevitable statue of hero Miklos Jurisics

the Heroes’ Tower, hsitorical building from 1932

Lunch was good, though, sitting at one of those terraces, in a single shirt in the afternoon sun. And that at the end of October. Did I mention winding down, somewhere?

Funnily, the quickest way from Koszeg to Sopron, our last destination, is through Austria. That is, if you exclude the time it takes to buy a vignette for Austrian roads, of course. Where the dumb hostility of the service station shop attendant is in stark contrast to the friendliness of the Hungarians, just across the border. Amazing!

Next: our last stop, Sopron.

and then we encounter this, a black smith sign

dormer, avant la lettre

another nice house, decorated with sgraffito

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