Chattanooga, TN, April 2007 — Culture, history, great food and wine, stunning scenery, and interaction with local residents are all highlights of the new "Wine and Bike in Balaton Uplands" tour, where cyclists set off on an eight-day exploration of one of Europe's oldest wine regions, the most picturesque areas of Balaton Uplands National Park and many of the historic towns and villages that make up Western Hungary. Operated by Hungary-based Vinociped and offered in North America through BikeToursDirect, the tour prides itself on its immersion into the local scene — whether it is wine tasting in small family wine cellars, sitting in local restaurants and enjoying goulash, grilled meats and Hungarian fish-soup, folk dancing, or simple conversations about the local highlights.

The leisurely paced eight-day tour averages 25 miles of cycling per day along relatively flat terrain. Daily self-guided departures run from April through September and are priced at €480 ($655 at April conversion rates) per person, double; guided departures are June 2 and August 22 with prices of €760 ($1,037 at April conversion rates).

The cycling focus of the tour — along the shores of Lake Balaton, Central Europe's largest lake, and through Balaton Uplands National Park to its north — offers spectacular views of extinct volcanic mountains, thousands of acres of grape fields, many planted during the Roman period, lush forests and sunny hills, and visits to historic and culturally rich towns and villages. The wine focus in this fast-rising star of excellent vintages means stopping along the daily route at small wine cellars to try a locally produced Riesling or Merlot or more unique grapes such as Juhfark or Olasrizling.

Sights along the cycling route include the old market and historic castle in Veszprém, one of Hungary's oldest towns and the cultural center of the region; the 11th-century Baroque Benedictine Abbey in Tihany; the romantic peninsula town of Szigliget and its Eszterházy Cellar and Museum; and the 15-century Castle of Nagyvázsony with its unique five-story tower.

The tour includes lodging at three- and four-star hotels and country inns; daily breakfasts and three-course dinners with unlimited wine; high-quality hybrid bikes with helmet and other gear; luggage transfers; detailed route information with recommended vineyard stops; and a service hotline. The guided tour adds daily picnic lunches, six wine tastings, an English-speaking professional guide, two assistants, entrance fees, and airport transfers.

BikeToursDirect is the one-stop resource for bicycle tours in Europe with more than 200 guided and self-guided cycling programs in 30 countries. Additional information and reservations are available at; tel.
(877) 462-2423 or (423) 756-8907; email: .

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