Never did a place better live up to its name!
(work in progress)
One of the teachers at the convent where I went to school taught me that, "if you have nothing good to say about something, then you shouldn't say anything at all" ... in which case, I wouldn't be writing this review. Unfortunately, in this - as in other areas of my life - I have been selective in my application of the wisdom that my teachers imparted ...
We had the 'pleasure' of visiting Siofok on a day trip from Budapest during an otherwise magical visit to Hungary in the spring of 2003. Since then, my husband and I have referred to Siofok as "See - oh f**k" (which works particularly well with a heavy Afrikaans accent) ... which gives you a clue as to our reaction to this place!
Reading the glowing reviews of this town on some of the other travel pages, I wonder whether we visited the same place - and if we did, please remind me to never go on holiday with those people!
Siofok is the main transport hub of Lake Balaton, and also the major tourist resort. The one thing that Siofok does not lack is accommodation: there are rather a lot of grim communist era concrete blocks and some rather more tasteful pensions and guest houses, and the place must be seething with people in season. Siofok is billed as the 'bathing capital of Hungary', and given that the lake is so shallow, it seems likely that it does heat up quite quickly once summer has started.
Out of season it seems that they all but roll up the pavements - we were there in April, and the town was deserted. Even the transport links were down to a skeleton service, which made it hard for us to explore the lake in the way that we had hoped - and maybe our disappointment at having limited mobility and frustration at the lack of information on this has coloured our perception.
Ultimately I think that the problem with Lake Balaton in general - and Siofok in particular - is one of unrealised expectation. Balaton is, after all, the largest lake in Europe, and when I saw such a massive body of water on a map, I had envisaged something along the lines of Bodensee (Lake Constance) or one of the other alpine lakes, where the lake is surrounded by splendid scenery. In truth, Balaton is a shallow water-filled depression in a fairly flat landscape, and is scenically unspectacular. The fringing wetlands in particular do offer some interesting habitats, and I imagine that it would be a good place to go bird spotting - but then my taste would rather run to the feathered variety than the bathing beauties on the beaches!