Instead, they made mysterious preparations, then headed for the van with shaded windows, discreetly parked around the corner.
After boarding, they instantly forgot the pouring rain. The seating arrangement brought to mind the fights for the best seats on class trips. The blue neon lights on the ceiling of the bus went on. Plastic shot glasses, various spirits and sandwiches were brought out, while an improvised guided tour was given – passing through the city of Kiskőrös was much more interesting like this in the yellow twilight reminiscent of The Lion King.
Thus, the team building weekend from 2 to 4 September was started, the destination being Hévíz.
The first stop was in Soltvadkert, at the Szent Korona pastry shop, where we had to make responsible decisions – selecting from the amazingly rich palette of delicious, cooked ice creams. Perhaps we could have sought the opinion of supernatural beings using the old-school “Voice of Truth” fortune telling machine, which communicates via a jumble of characters printed on block paper. This sight helped everyone finally forget about their work – even the eagle-eyed QA managers who were distracted by the “airplain” tickets advertised in the nearby travel agency – a funny typo made the offer even more compelling.
Hévíz lies northwest of Lake Balaton, in the Keszthely Hills. Its peat-bottomed thermal lake was frequented by even the ancient Romans – as testified by the coins found in the water. It was turned into a modern spa in 1772 by the Count György Festetics, who had a bathhouse built there – on rafts. Of course, this was not the main conversation topic after our late arrival (with two colleagues joining us on the spot); however, tired as the group was, conversations continued in the lounge of Villa Mediterran until late night.
After a buffet breakfast the next morning, we were relatively well-prepared for our next adventure. Fortunately, the end of the summer season at the Gyenesdiás beach was indicated only by the lack of crowds. The sun was not covered by clouds, and the silky water of Lake Balaton (which seemed cold only at first) melted together with the sky. Those who still were cold could quickly warm up by playing badminton or volleyball. When it was finally lunchtime, no one had to be called twice to eat some lángos (a traditional Hungarian salty pancake/flatbread).
It was not easy to observe any moderation with the justly famous, cheese, cream and garlic-seasoned lángos of the Balaton, so we had some doubts about the evening programme – namely dinner at the picturesque Kis Helikon villa. Despite the heavy lunch, neither the beef stew with boiled potatoes nor the courgette dish for vegetarians left any room for holding back, let alone the excellent red wine of the house and the cheesecake served with figs and strawberry jam, which was the highlight of the dinner.
The atmosphere of the villa, the friendly service and the conversation that involved even the chef, all contributed to our surprise when we realized how time had flown by and that it was time to leave.
However, the comfortable walk to the hotel was not enough for some great wanderers among us. The evening souvenir hunt began. Meanwhile, a larger-than-life conversation took place in the hotel lounge once again (presumably to the not-so-sincere delight of German tourists in the hotel). Nevertheless, we still managed to go to sleep just in time to stay fresh for the next day’s programme.
Of course, the main dilemma was still there: bathing or hiking? Those who chose the former could soak in the 36-38°C thermal waters that rise from the 39-metre deep Hévíz spring cave. The water, rich in calcium, magnesium and sulphur, is known to be beneficial for the musculoskeletal and the nervous systems. And because the water of the lake flows into the Zala river through the Hévíz canal, and then into Lake Balaton, this healthy experience was in fact not missed by anyone who had taken a dip in the “Hungarian sea” the day before.
Meanwhile, those who decided to hike could only bathe in sweat instead, on their way to the castle of Rezi. The path, winding through the woods and open plains, was not too steep most of the time – but suddenly, the weekend hikers, who had been chatting and taking photos lightly, had to face a short but steep climb as they approached the ruins. The view from the fortress ruin on the 427-metre-high rocky hill of the Keszthely plateau made up for all the effort: while eating special “isler” cakes, we enjoyed a view adorned with fishing ponds and white church steeples peeking out of the hills.
At lunchtime, the company reunited at the Magyar Csárda restaurant – already packed for the trip home. The meals (pre-ordered from the menu) were all exquisite. Very soon, we were already missing the comfort of the covered garden: the bus felt smaller than ever. Perhaps we had started to outgrow it? Even so, no one was deterred from trying some more flavours of ice-cream or delicious cakes when stopping by in Soltvadkert once again on the way home.
As a result, we gathered enough energy to last until the evening, when we all arrived at the office feeling exhausted but uplifted after the busy weekend. We would like to thank Sándor Sojnóczky in particular for this trip, which we hope will become a tradition – and also Anna Szabó, the originator if the idea. We said goodbye to her on the way home, but, as she says, the next step in her career is no further than right across the square.
In conclusion, we may rightfully raise the question: could there be a better example of the true meaning of team building?