Monday 27thApril 2015, Bük, Hungary
We are rather astonished and more than a little delighted to be here. It was not our intention to come to Hungary on this trip and we have no guide books, camping guides or maps with us. We were driving down the autobahn yesterday to reach Vienna, when we saw a sign pointing off to Ungarn. “ Shall we?” “Go on then”. And so here we are, camped at one of the many spa towns scattered across this friendly little country where time has stood still more than in most countries of western Europe.
Okay, now you know where we are I’d best bring you up to date with the rest of our adventures, but first permit me a final rant about Italian bureaucracy.
Our first night in Austria we went on to the internet and, as I’d feared, discovered that the Italian hub for Google had deliberately messed about with our blogs! Because the links have suffixes from all over Europe (I have around 600 postings loaded up now) they had assumed I was an enemy agent bent on destroying Italian security, so they’d blocked our website! None of the links worked correctly and the more we’d tried to sort it out the more muddled it had become! Fortunately it chanced that we’d left Italy the following day, and as Austria is not so screwed up about these matters I could go in and change the damaged links back to what they should be. ITALIA!!
After a night camping beside the lake in Ossiacher See we headed towards Vienna along the autobahn. We had become anxious as the warm weather was returning and that’s not good news for sightseeing. So the sooner we reached Vienna the better. There was not a great deal of traffic on the autobahn but the lanes are fairly narrow and cars zip past very close, cutting in tightly. So it was tiring driving though we made excellent progress compared with the non-motorway alternative. Soon we’d skirted Klargenfurt which we’ve already visited a couple of times, and we reluctantly decided we couldn’t really afford the time to visit Graz which we last visited with friends Mike and Vickie Maguire. (Sorry Mike, I know you will be cross with us.) As Modestine scampered across Austria, generally overground but frequently beneath it, through long tunnels with heavy lorries sniffing her bottom, we found ourselves close to the border with Hungary. We stopped for the night at Bad Waltersdorf where we discover Ian had misread the camping guide and instead of it costing us 16 euros it was 28. It wasn’t a particularly nice site and the internet wasn’t working. Next morning however we discovered that nearby was an exceptional hotel established in 1998 designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928 -2000) was to Austria what Gaudi was to Spain. He had a completely different approach to architecture, influenced by time spent in Morocco, Tunis, Paris and Italy. The hotel when we found it was fun beyond our wildest expectations!
The entrepreneur Robert Rogner approached Hunderwasser and commissioned him to develop a huge hotel and spa complex at Bad Blumau where hot springs were discovered in 1979. He was given the freedom to design the complex exactly as he wished and the result is amazing. Despite not having the regulation white bath robes, slippers and expensive manicure we parked Modestine outside and walked in, trying to look as if we belonged. It wasn’t long before we were challenged so we confessed we’d come to look at the architecture. That was fine, the charming lady told us, but we were not allowed to join the guests for Sunday morning breakfast. We could however have a coffee on the sunny terrace if we wished. What could be nicer than that?
Guest accommodation is in a number of different buildings around the complex, and prices start from around 120 euros per person per night for half board. All the roofs are covered with earth, trees and grass. Nothing is regular. All the lines of the buildings are wonky and windows are outlined in a brightly coloured mosaic of broken tiles while corridors within the hotel are undulating and again deliberately tiled with mismatched and broken tiles. There is a large golden dome over the main building and balconies and crazy-paved verandas are found all around the complex. It’s easier to show you than explain so here are some photos we took, simply in the order we took them.
As you see, a remarkable chance discovery that is not included in any of our guidebooks. We have already seen examples of his architectural work in Vienna when we first visited the city but there is much more to be discovered!
Vienna, Graz, Klagenfurt