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The upper Amazon River in the middle of the Great Hungarian Plain

  • Jászberényi Attila
An artificial creation that has become the second most important water tourism destination in Hungary. It's a strange world, it has everything, live water, lagoons, islands, reed bed, water meadows, huge pools, incredible wildlife and modern-day attractions. This is Lake Tisza, which doesn't exist; but fortunately, it does, and if it didn't, it would have to be invented.
An artificial creation that has become the second most important water tourism destination in Hungary. It's a strange world, it has everything, live water, lagoons, islands, reed bed, water meadows, huge pools, incredible wildlife and modern-day attractions. This is Lake Tisza, which doesn't exist; but fortunately, it does, and if it didn't, it would have to be invented.

It doesn’t exist, because the Lake Tisza designation is mostly a marketing name, the pools are lake-shaped artificial branches of the Tisza River. Although it is easily accessible from a lot of big cities (Budapest, Eger, Miskolc, Debrecen, Szolnok), no matter how you get there, you should use bicycles and boats as your local means of transport. A bike ride around the pools on the top-quality tarmacked dam is indispensable, and the seventy kilometres – without elevation gain – can easily be carried out in a day, with fantastic views, beaches at every turn, harbours, pubs, a complete power station, friendly villagers and churches with painted coffered ceilings – must-read literature for visitors.

Füred of Lake Tisza

Abádszalók is the popular local Siófok in the south, but it is the north coast and really: Tiszafüred at Lake Tisza is the same as Balatonfüred at Lake Balaton. It has seen the most innovation, the most attractions built, and the most events and festivals in the season in recent years. The beach takes it all, with a huge, well-kept park on the shores of an oxbow, and in the evening we can walk over to the terrace of the four-star Balneum Hotel for a great dinner.

 

Tiszafüred-Örvény is another world. It is home to the two largest marinas in the area, Szabics and Kormorán, but most of all to the largest colony of floating houses in the country – and probably in Eastern Europe - with nearly a hundred wobbly properties. We can't have more waterfront accommodation than this, thank goodness there are rentals available too.

Wobbly properties, fish sausage and perch muzzle

The floating house is an old invention, its origin dates back to the seventies - you can still see a prototype - where if you weld some oil drums on a frame, put the caravan on top, assemble a roof on it, a barrel for hot water, there is a battery and an antenna for Junosty Tv in it, you can live right on the water. Today's version has full comfort, city electricity, water, sewerage, air conditioning and proper heating, more like a villa than a cottage house. Compared to the coast, the only difference is that our boat, not the car, is parked in the garage, and the slide does not arrive in the sandbox, but the Tisza. It is a special lifestyle with a huge garden, but no need to mow the lawn, just watching the river flow around us and listening to the swallows. There are two fish fryers, one is better than the other. The Hello Hal is an old-school place, simple, but very gastro, on the other side of the dam at the Szabics harbour. The Stég beyond the Kormorán, towards the oxbow, is very cool, can be accessed by boat, it is made from top design containers, with a spritzer terrace upstairs and a mosquito-free space below, with an outdoor shower and cell-phone chargers. Two owners, who are practically neighbours and also competitors in the harbour. Szabolcs Horváth, a passionate fisherman, built his lifelong dream of a caravan, while Attila Jónás (with his partner Gabriella Pagács), a multiple Hungarian wakeboard champion, is building his brand-new floating house with an inestimable area. Don't miss Szabolcs' fish sausage and Attila and Gabi's perch muzzle with wok vegetables.

Strudel, sturgeon, Indian

Nearby in Poroszló, you can find the greatest breakthrough in the region, the Lake Tisza Ecocenter (and next to it the best picnic restaurant in the Great Hungarian Plain, called Rétesház). Europe's largest freshwater aquarium provides a complete insight into the flora and fauna of the Tisza Valley, particularly the huge sturgeon fish, now closed by the Iron Gate but once indigenous species of the area. You can see them in all their grandeur from an underwater, glass-walled tunnel. On summer days, be prepared for long queues at the ticket office, so it's worth taking a boat trip after the visit with the combined ticket. But whether from here or from Füred, it is obligatory to rent a canoe and paddle along the free-flowing river Kis-Tisza between the two settlements. This is the wildest part of Lake Tisza, and in nature documentaries, you can see similar scenes in the upper Amazon. Rampant floodplain vegetation, huge roots of fallen trees on the bank, nesting sand martins, beaver-barked trunks, winding, ever-narrowing banks in a canopy-tunnel that restructures after every storm. We will feel like that we are on another continent in another world. We'll be out of civilization, an Indian tribe in the Amazon, and we'll be tired by the time we get back.

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