16 September 2019
Text & Photography Marie Barge
Here is Marie Barge’s final report from the 2019 World Rowing Masters Regatta in Velence, Hungary. This time she is concentrating on local food and what Velence has to offer the rowing tourists.
Located in the Great Hungarian Plain – Puszta – Velence is one of the warmest lakes in Europe with temperatures up to 28 degrees. With its average depth of 1,5 metres, capsizing rowers will be fine.
One third of the lake is covered by reeds and it’s an important part of the local avifauna.
Lake Velence is one of the most popular destinations in Hungary thanks to the natural and geographical advantages of the lake. It´s a 40-minute train ride from Budapest and a lot of the rowers stay there during the World Rowing Masters Regatta. In beautiful Budapest you can, for example, have a spa day in one of the many public baths, of which Gellert is the most famous, not only in Hungary, but in all of Europe.
There is a shuttle bus service around Lake Velence, and if you stay in Budapest, you get a 50% discount on the train. At the rowing arena, there is a nice, big, shady tent, an excellent coffee stand, several food stalls, offering interesting Hungarian dishes like laska and dödölle – yet to be tested.
There is a long path for viewing the races, a spectator stand just at the finish line and just enough rest rooms so you never have to wait in line. The merchandise is plentiful, and I might just purchase a t-shirt to bring with me back home. The alfresco exhibition of Hungarian rowing history was interesting and conveniently located near the finish.
It´s a tight schedule with races three minutes apart but everything seems to be working smoothly. All in all, I think the organisers have done a great job!
Outside the arena then? As it’s now a little bit off-season, it’s quiet and many of the types of watersport activities Velence has to offer are closed. I took a nice bike ride around the lake, a good three-hour ride, including lunch. You pass Lake Dinnyesi with some observation towers for bird watching.
My fellow accompanying partner, Kerstin Ekström, and I stayed at a restaurant for some lunch – we fancied a soup and a salad and ended up with a delicious berry/fruit soup with cream as a starter and a jar of pickled beets for entrée. Not your mainstream food combo! Stuffed peppers, Lángos and Goulash are perhaps better-known dishes of the Hungarian kitchen.
The area surrounding the lake is a mix of rundown houses and hotels and building sights everywhere. It´s almost like you can see how the area has been – and how it will become – at the same time.
The Bence Hill Lookout offers a great view. The lake and its surroundings are flat and has a special kind of beauty. Although I wouldn’t revisit Velence as a tourist, I´m happy to have been here, and I will definitely go back for a regatta.