Balatonvilágos, Hungary – The purgatory of the hedonists
So far, I wrote about bigger towns of Lake Balaton like Siófok and Keszthely. But our popular summer destination is mostly surrounded by smaller settlements with a few thousand or in some cases even only a few hundred inhabitants. As third target in summer of 2016 I pointed out Balatonvilágos, a tiny town with ca. 1400 people. It was attractive because of three reasons: 1. I’ve never been there yet. 2. It is one of the closest Balaton towns to Budapest. 3. The Hungarian handcraft brewery, Hedon is operating there.
Before going there, I didn’t know too much about this town, neither about the local relations of Hedon Brewery. First, I was surprised about the actual size. I stopped there with a friend for a Sunday evening to discover Balatonvilágos. We started late afternoon. The first venue we saw was a beach buffet like many other but a bit further to the shore than usually, much more red and also with a funny name, Kerékpár Bár = Bicycle Bar.
I ran to them to ask the must urgent question on my mind: is there any sanctuary of the Hedon brewery around? I had the luck that a guy who works in the Hedon team was eating in Kerékpár Bár in that moment. He told me that unfortunately they don’t have an own pub yet. They were about to open one in the following year. He orientated us to the Levander terasz restaurant to have their beers there. To nobody’s surprise we went there.
It had a Far-East style, women stunning garden so obviously there was a couple who shared romantic moments at the table closest to the water.
The foods seemed to be hellish delicious but we only had two of the Balatonvilágosi beers from the tap, the lager beer of Hedon. I pretty much love their logo.
After this we ran to take over the hotel and asked the girl in the reception what is the coolest pub in town.
– Coolest pub? There are no! This is a silent, retired-style place – she said.
Although this didn’t sound promising at all, for some strange reason I believe in my mysterious ability to spot even better pubs than the local people know. This time it didn’t happen. Sörbár (=Beer bar) was the most common name we heard as an answer after asking random pedestrians. The map showed it in a distance of 2,7 kilometers. We will make it easily – we thought.
The streets of this small town were flawlessly tidy, with many flowers and nice pavings and an eternal Sunday afternoon mood.
We also brought swimsuits with us, just in case. You have to know about Balatonvilágos that it naturally has two levels. The town itself is on a smaller plateau. Approaching the lake isn’t so easy from every spot. In return you get a view like this below and at nights you are able to have a spectacular look at the lights of the opposite lake shore.
The life was indeed extremely calm on our way to Sörbár despite being in the middle of the holiday season. Few people were sitting in small taverns like this red checked table clothed one. It is pleasant, thought.
Only a little restaurant called Révai seemed to attract more people for a social life. Looking back it may would have been a better pick than Sörbár but who knew it before? Reaching our goal after 2,7 kilometers was a Nirvana for us. We were like Harold and Kumar from the movie heading to the White Castle but us were told that we can’t stay for more than one drink because they are closing soon.
Considering the focus on the beer in the name and also that we were in the town of a popular Hungarian Craft Brewery, we were a bit sad that we could get only large-scale beers. I always hold on to my strict rule while exploring bars and pubs that I never check the places on the Internet first as if Google would have been invented. I only follow the recommendations of the local people. This is a Russian rulett, I know. This time I’ve been shot.
Sörbár was a monopoly in the area without any rival. You could tell also from the immensely crowded terrace even at closing time. Also the regulars were in the disgraced situation of drinking their beers in the dark because the turned off lights should keep away the other tourists or the passing by locals.
We also had two Staropramens. A young girls was in the bar – A pub crawl here isn’t just difficult, it is impossible – she told us. A guest in his forties turned to us and said: real alcoholic would starve here. You have beers in your fridge and that is the pub. I don’t know if he really was serious but he confessed that he also went to the Mayor’s Office to complain about the unbearable situation of the local pub scene.
An older lady ran in for a quick cognac and some beers to go in the very last time. She told us that more pubs used to exist back then with a bigger community life in them, even during the week and on Sundays. But most of them closed unfortunately. She thinks the reason is that the local people don’t have the money anymore to waste it in pubs and the tourist go and spend their banknotes rather on the beach than in the town.
On our way back we witnessed some people chatting on their plastic chairs in their gardens looking at the stellar sky and sipping some beverages. We couldn’t know who was a local and who a tourist. The youngsters were gathering on banks on the plateau or laid in the grass starring at the moonshine or its golden reflection on Lake Balaton and were drinking from the bottle. They didn’t seem to miss a pub around them in this moment. I could understand it.
For our nice surprise we found Levander Terasz still open so we could finish the trip where we started. Now you heard the story of a restaurant saving a wannabe pub crawl. We had Charlie Firpo (Rye APA) and Madam Porter.
The staff was so gentle that they gave a Hedon beer glass as present for a Hedon fan friend of mine in Budapest.
Balatonvilágos was a tailender from the perspective of the pubs but the small taverns and the beach life we haven’t seen at all remained interesting. If Hedon Brewery opens an own place in the next years it can change things here. It can even be a place of pilgrimage for the beer fans at Lake Balaton. Let’s keep it in sight!
Sörbár and Levander Terasz on map:
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