Hungary Winter Drive – St. Nicholas Day in Keszthely

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Excuse me Santa, can I take a picture with you?

After two nights in Szekesfehervar, the next leg of our journey would see us drive a full circuit around Lake Balaton, which is the largest lake in Central Europe. With an area of 592 square kilometres, it is almost the size of Singapore!

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Our destination for the day’s drive was Keszthely, at the western corner of the lake, which is an important cultural and historical hub in the region. It was a lovely drive, and we took a few detours off the motorway because we wanted to catch a glimpse of the beautiful lake!

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Down the little alley for a first glimpse of Lake Balaton

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Looks more like an ocean rather than a lake!

Not the best vantage point of the lake, I know, but better than nothing. This was our first view of Lake Balaton and we were immediately struck by its vast expanse. Compared to the seaside, the waters were so calm and gentle. You could barely make out the silhouettes of the hills at the opposite bank of the lake, and they seemed to blend in perfectly with the skies in the horizon.

After getting our Lake Balaton fix, we quickly made our way back onto the motorway to find our accommodation for the night – Beata Apartment, a homestay at a suburb just a short drive from Keszthely town.

This was the first time we have tried booking a homestay, and I must say it was a memorable experience. It took us a bit of time to find the exact location, but we were given directions by a helpful neighbour who pointed us the way to the house.

Our hosts, Feri and Beata, were super hospitable, and their house gave us a very homely feeling.

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A homestay with that homely feeling!

After settling us in, Feri told us that the 6th of December was actually St. Nicholas Day in Hungary, and we had arrived just in time to observe the festivities at the town centre at 4pm that day. Grateful for this information, we made our way back to town to check it out!

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The lovely town square at Keszthely where the St. Nicholas Day festivities were held

We were not disappointed. At the town centre, crowds were gathered in anticipation, with a real festival atmosphere with lovely games stations set up for the kids to play for free!

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How do I fire this crossbow?

There was also the requisite nativity scene, as well as a little barnyard maze made from hay for the little kids to get themselves lost in.

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Not quite mazerunner

Finally, the highlight of the afternoon – Santa’s arrival on a horse-drawn carriage! He brought his bag of presents and distributed little sweets to all the children present. It was certainly unexpected that we would luck our way to the St. Nicholas Day celebration, and we were extremely grateful for the recommendation of our hosts.

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Hello Santa!


This is part 8 of my Hungary Winter Drive blog series,  click HERE for part 9 where I share about our visit to the wonderful Helikon Kastelymuzeum at the Festetics Palace!

My wife and I enjoy having guests over at our place for fellowship over a nice home-cooked meal. If you would like to drop by to try some of my wife’s wonderful cooking and to talk more about travel and life, do drop me a mail at lenniechua@gmail.com to arrange a dinner date! Everyone welcome!


2017 Hokkaido Winter Drive Blog Series

2016 Drive from Singapore to Thailand Blog Series

2017 Drive from Singapore to Thailand Blog Series

 

 

 

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Reflections on Love / Wedding Dinner at St. Regis,

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Welcome to St. Regis, decked out in a Shangai theme, complete with the feathered frills, vintage songbird, and zany emcee. Its been awhile since we have attended a wedding dinner with such glitz and glamour. Every table had a towering tablepiece, which added to the grandeur, but posed a lot of problems with line-of-sight. I don’t remember seeing the emcee’s face at all the entire evening, for all his attempts to leave a lasting impression. Felt a little sorry for him, having to crack jokes in mandarin which no one in the ballroom seemed to understand or to care about.

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The food was generally good with excellent presentation, but perhaps trying a little too hard to impress. You’d have to say that it was certainly unique, not the standard Chinese wedding dinner fare. Portions were individually served in French style minimalist portions with great flair and an eye for detail. Service standards of the waiting staff was rather disappointing, I must say, with our drinks being forgotten at least four times.

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Amidst all this talk about the venue, the decor and the food, lets not forget what the wedding is really about, the celebration of love between two people joined together for a lifetime of commitment and companionship. The emcee quipped, “Marriage is not a word, it is a sentence… a LIFE SENTENCE.” Well perhaps we shouldn’t put it so negatively, but there is a lot of truth in that statement. The BIG DAY is only the beginning, the BIG CHALLENGE is to navigate the twist and turns and bumps and bruises of a lifetime of togetherness. Will the union stand the test of time? We always start out with the best of intentions, but a lot of the time we place expectations on our partners and on the relationship, and in so doing we forget what love is really all about.

Love suffers long and is kind: Are we prepared to exercise patience and grace to our partners? Do we accept that nobody is perfect, that in a marriage, you will often experience both the good side and the bad side of your partner? Are we kind to each other? Do we seek to understand before being understood?

Love does not envy; love does not parade itself:Don’t look at others and compare, don’t exalt yourself above the other. You might end up winning the argument, but losing the relationship.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things: Are we a pillar of support to our partners? Or are we a lighted fuse? Are we one that inspires and brings out the best in the other? Or do we make a habit of tearing each other down? Are we willing to go through the sun, the rain, the valley, the storm, through good and bad times with each other? Action speaks a lot louder than words. Many promises have been made, and many promises not kept. How much is your word worth?

Love never fails:True selfless agape love never fails to bring about the best in any relationship. True love is an emptying of yourself, your desires, your needs, and only focussing on the object of your love. You will give your all, and even your life, for the sake of the other person. A sacrificial love. A pure love, without any evil agenda. Love isn’t a feeling, it is a decision, a choice. Long after the fuzzy emotional feelings die down, true love will remain, almost spiritual in nature, it will stand the test of time. Are we committed to dying to ourselves and dying for others?

Marriage is a lifetime commitment!.