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Photolocation: [47.498978, 18.283446]
What: Houseboats sitting on a thermal outlet lake in Hungary. The lake is an outlet for the nearby thermal power plant, and never freezes, even when the mighty Danube that runs only a few miles from this location, freezes over during the harsh Hungarian winter.
Why: We chanced upon this place in the quirky and interesting Atlas Obscura while researching odd and grand Communist monuments and structures to visit on our trip to Hungary. Once seen, you couldn’t unsee this site – we found it everywhere, quietly lurking in a few Instagram photos and in Google Chromecast screensavers. The houseboats themselves are pretty unique, and quite photogenic. Given the right winter conditions, this makes for a great sunrise (impossible) or sunset photograph, as the dense cold air hits the warm waters, creating fabulous mist.
Though temperatures were a cool 34F when we visited, the humidity was pretty low and unfortunately we didn’t hit the misty wonderland we were expecting. But it was a fabulous treat to the senses – beautiful and serene. We ended up spending 2 hours at the spot, watching the sun go down against the houseboats, when we had initially planned only a quick detour on our way to Budapest.
How: Driving in from Vienna towards Budapest, Bokod is an easy hour detour. Driving till the town of Oroszlany is quite straightforward, though the roads are not as smooth as the main arteries of Hungary. Its when you come closer to the geo-location mentioned above that things get a little confusing. You hit a gravel road, which in winter, was wet and muddy. And there are tall trees all around, completely hiding the houseboats and the lake from sight – so you drive forward on faith, that you have reached the right place. Park anywhere on the gravel road highlighted in yellow below, and walk in towards the lake. Trust us, it will be spectacular.
We had landed there late December, and the whole area was deserted. Luckily for us, there was one more photographer who had parked and was scurrying towards the lake through the trees against the dropping sun.
Time: About an hour west of Budapest. Easy if you have a car, difficult with public transportation. Any time of the year, though winter makes it more interesting.