GENERAL INFORMATION


Contents


Arrival and travel in Hungary

If you come by plane:

If you click onto the picture, it will open in bigger size.
Budapest - Ferihegy-1 Airport Terminal

International airports are only in Budapest, so you will arrive to the capital. There are two airports beside each other close to the border of Budapest. The blue public transport bus number 200 starts from Ferihegy 2A and 2B airport terminals (these are the new terminals) and it has a stop at Ferihegy 1 airport. The bus number 93 starts from Ferihegy 1 (it is the old one and only a few plane use it) and both of them have the other final stop at the terminal of the underground line number 3 (Metro line 3 or M3) at Kőbánya-Kispest railway station. You can travel further with M3 to the downtown. Three underground lines of Budapest cross each other at the Deák tér (Deák Square), this is geometric centre of the capital.

If you click onto the picture, it will open in bigger size.
Budapest - Ferihegy-2A and 2B Airport Terminals

The busses start really often, in every 10-15 minutes and the travel takes about 40-45 minutes until the downtown of Budapest. There is another possibility, you can use the Airport minibuses. One travel to the downtown is 2.300 HUF/person and the travelling time is about 30 minutes. This service has information desks on both airports, you can inform and book the travel there. Of course the fastest transfer is the taxi. The Főtaxi Company has taxi stations at every terminal. A travel to the centre of Budapest is about 3000-4000 HUF – it depends on the distance and the travelling time.

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If you come by train:

If you click onto the picture, it will open in bigger size.
Budapest - Déli Railway Station

Budapest is the centre of the Hungarian railway lines and the international trains have a stop here. There are three main railway stations almost in the centre of the capital, and the international trains use all of them. Their names are Keleti pályaudvar (Eastern Railway station), Nyugati pályaudvar (Western Railway Station) and Déli pályaudvar (Southern Railway Station). Their names don't refer to their position in Budapest and don't refer to the direction of the arriving and leaving trains. Why have got they these names? I don't know! But all the three railway stations have a good accessibility with the M2 and M3 Metro lines.

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Luggage office (Left-luggage room)

If you click onto the picture, it will open in bigger size.
Budapest - Keleti Railway station

There are left-luggage rooms on all the three railway stations. You can leave some clean (travelling) clothes there. The prices are the following:

  • A general package (its dimension doesn't exceed the 30 X 50 X 80 cm and its weight is max. 30 kg): 300 HUF/day/package
  • Bigger package: 600 HUF/day/package

They preserve luggage during 30 days. They are open every day between 5 am and 12 pm.
There is a left-luggage room on the Ferihegy 2B airport terminal, as well.

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About the tickets of the public transport of Budapest
If you click onto the picture, it will open in bigger size.
Budapest - Tram on the Nagykörút

There are single tickets of the public transport company in Budapest, which are valid on the trams, busses, underground (Metros) and HÉV (suburban railway from Budapest to the neighbour villages) until the boundary of Budapest. You can buy them on the airports and anywhere at the newspaper or tobacco shops, or at the ticket offices of the Budapesti Közlekedési Vállalat (BKV) - in English: Public Transport Company of Budapest. Generally you can find the offices at the railway stations, at the bigger Metro stations and at the big public transport junctions.

If you click onto the picture, it will open in bigger size.
Budapest - Articulated bus on the Kossuth Lajos Street

You have to validate a new ticket at every travel! You can't change and travel further with one ticket (only with the transfer tickets)! If you travel in the town with the public transport vehicles, you will meet often with the inspectors of the public transport company!

If you would like to spend more days in Budapest to get to know the sights of the capital, I recommend you to buy some travel card. You can use them without any limitation on every bus, tram, Metro and HÉV line of the BKV until the boundary of Budapest. They are valid even on the cog railway among the hills of Buda! You can buy them only at the ticket offices of the BKV.



About the prices:

Name (English) Name (Hungarian) Description Price
Single ticket Vonaljegy It is valid at one travel 350 HUF
Single ticket bought on the spot (at the driver) Vonaljegy It is valid at one travel 450 HUF
Transfer ticket (one change) Átszállójegy It is valid at two travels 530 HUF
Short section metro ticket Metró rövid szakaszjegy It is valid to travel maximum 3 stops 300 HUF
Block of 10 tickets (10 pcs) 10 darabos gyűjtőjegy It is valid for 10 single travel 3000 HUF
24-hour travel card Napijegy It is valid for a day 1650 HUF
72-hour travel card 72 órás jegy It is valid for three days 4150 HUF
Seven-day travel card Hetijegy It is valid for seven days 4950 HUF
Budapest card (for 48 hours) Budapest kártya 48 órás It is valid for an adult and a child up to 14 years travelling together 7900 HUF
Budapest card (for 72 hours) Budapest kártya 72 órás It is valid for an adult and a child up to 14 years travelling together 9900 HUF

You can find further information about the tickets and the fees on this website: http://www.bkk.hu/en/tickets-and-passes/prices/ . I think, the single tickets are a little bit expensive, but it is worth buying some travel card, if you will spend longer time in Budapest. The public transport is very good in Budapest, you can get to everywhere with the public transport vehicles!

Here is a map about the public transport lines of the whole Budapest. It is downloadable in PDF format from the website of the Public Transport Company of Budapest:
http://www.bkk.hu/apps/docs/terkep/budapest.pdf

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About the travel on the countryside

Travel by train:

The Hungarian railway lines and the route of the National Blue Trail
THE HUNGARIAN RAILWAY LINES AND THE ROUTE OF THE NATIONAL BLUE TRAIL
If you click onto the map, it will open in bigger size.

Budapest is the centre of the Hungarian railway lines and they start from the earlier mentioned three main railway stations. The following places of the National Blue Trail have access by train from Budapest:

  • Kőszeg town - from Déli pályaudvar, with change in Szombathely town
  • Sárvár town - directly from Déli pályaudvar
  • Sümeg town - from Déli pályaudvar, with change in Boba village or Tapolca town
  • Keszhely town - directly from Déli pályaudvar
  • Tapolca town - directly from Déli pályaudvar
  • Badacsonytördemic village - directly from Déli pályaudvar
  • Városlőd-Kislőd village - directly from Déli pályaudvar
  • Bodajk village - from Déli pályaudvar, with change in Székesfehérvár town
  • Szárliget village - directly from Déli pályaudvar
  • Dorog town - directly from Nyugati pályaudvar
  • Piliscsaba village - directly from Nyugati pályaudvar
  • Nagymaros village - directly from Nyugati pályaudvar
  • Becske village - from Keleti pályaudvar with change in Aszód village
  • Mátraverebély village - from Keleti pályaudvar, with change in Hatvan town
  • Szarvaskő village - from Keleti pályaudvar with change in Füzeabony village and/or Eger town
  • Putnok village - from Keleti pályaudvar with change in Miskolc town
  • Bódvaszilas village - from Keleti pályaudvar with change in Miskolc town
  • Encs town - from Keleti pályaudvar with change in Miskolc or in Füzesabony
  • Sátoraljaújhely town - directly from Keleti pályaudvar, or with change in Miskolc or in Szerencs

There is a very good timetable of the MÁV (Hungarian State Railways), its address is the following: http://elvira.mav-start.hu . This website has German and English version, as well.

Travel by long distance coaches:

You can reach many places of the Blue Trail by long distance coaches, as well. They start from Budapest and they have two main terminals. The name of the first is Budapest Népliget buszpályaudvar (Budapest, Népliget Bus Station), it is accessible by the Metro3 line, and the name of the second one is Budapest Stadionok buszpályaudvar (Budapest Stadionok Bus Station), you can reach it with the Metro 2. The coaches start towards the western part of Hungary (towards the Transdanubian region) from the Népliget Station and towards the eastern half of the country from the Stadionok Station.

You can reach the timetable of the long distance coaches here:
http://ujmenetrend.cdata.hu/uj_menetrend/en/index.php This is the English version, but you can change to French and Romanian in the window at the right upper corner.

Travel by inter-settlement busses:

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Budapest - Népliget Bus Station

These busses start from bigger Hungarian towns, which are in good connection with Budapest by train or long distance coaches, and they carry the people from the towns to the smaller settlements in their environs. Generally the bus stations are close to the railway stations. Usually the long distance coaches and the inter-settlement busses use the same terminals. Of course Budapest is an exception: there are many terminals only for the inter-settlement busses in the capital. You can find their timetable here:
http://ujmenetrend.cdata.hu/uj_menetrend/en/index.php (yes, you can find every long distance and inter-settlement busses in common timetable).

The prices of the coaches and trains are the same in same distances. I tell you only some prices as examples (March 2016):

  • 50 km distance 930 HUF
  • 100 km distance 1860 HUF
  • 200 km distance 3410 HUF

You can find the whole chart of prices here: http://www.volan.hu/dijszab/jegyar.pdf . These prices are valid from January 2016 on the second class of the railway, on the long distance coaches and inter-settlement busses. These prices don't contain the additional price of the seat reservation and the first class of the trains.

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About the accommodation

Wild camping in Hungary? YES! - only with a few limiting conditions
Wild camping in the forest
Wild camping in the forest

Details from the “Erdőtörvény” (Law of forest):
91. § (1) Az erdőben - annak rendeltetésétől függetlenül - üdülés, sportolás és kirándulás céljából gyalogosan, emberi erővel hajtott kerékpárral, lóval, valamint az erdészeti feltáró hálózat részein sport vagy turisztikai célú, lóval vontatott járművel bárki saját felelősségére ott tartózkodhat, amit az erdőgazdálkodó tűrni köteles, kivéve, ha
a) más jogszabály azt korlátozza, vagy
b) az arra jogosult a látogatás korlátozását az e törvényben foglaltak alapján elrendelte.
93. § (1) Az erdőgazdálkodó hozzájárulásával szabad az erdőben:
a) huszonnégy órát meghaladóan üdülési, illetőleg sportolási célból tartózkodni, táborozni, továbbá sátrat felverni;

I try to translate it with my own words:
91. § (1) Anybody can stay in the forest independently from its function on grounds of recreation, sport and trip by walking, cycling, horse riding, or on grounds of sport and tourism by horse towed vehicles on his/her own risk on the forest cultivating roads, and the forest management must tolerated this thing. Exceptions:
a) if this is limited by other laws
b) authorized person has ordered the limiting of visits in the forest on grounds of the above mentioned laws
93. § (1) It is allowed in the forest with the approval of the forest management:
a) to stay on ground of recreation and sport, to pitch tent and camping more than 24 hours

Literally it means, that we, hikers have right to pitch camp everywhere in the forest, if the duration of the camping doesn’t exceed the 24 hours! The wild camping is allowed! Unfortunately the situation isn’t as simple as we hope. The stay and the camping is strongly limited on the protected areas, for example in national parks or in nature reserves.

Wild camping in the forest
Wild camping in the forest

I can write only my opinion here:
I spent altogether 86 nights in my tent during the past dozen years (I have a little statistics about my hikes), a big part of them in nature reserves. I met many times with foresters, but I didn’t have any problem with my wild camping in the mentioned areas. Why? The answer is simple: foresters know, that hikers love the nature, they won’t harm it! If I break camp, I leave nothing there, only the trace of my tent in the grass. Generally foresters and hikers are in a good relationship, but it is only at the walking hikers. If somebody tries to pitch camp beside his car/motorbike, foresters will send him to an official camping. But the above written facts are right for a few people. 4-6 people still can “lost” in the forest, bigger teams are already more conspicuous. In this case foresters generally prohibit the camping in the protected areas.

Of course, the wild camping is allowed by the mentioned law only in the forest, and on its meadows, clearings, clear-cuts. The Law of Forest doesn’t say about the wild camping in the fields, arable areas. But I know from my experience, there is no problem in this case. Only one thing is important: don’t harm the forest and the plants of the cultivated areas!

  • There are only a few official campsites (camping) along the Blue Tail. You will find them mainly in bigger towns or in the environs of bigger sights (for example in the Danube Bend, Lake Balaton, Cave of Aggtelek, etc).
  • There is a good website, where you can look for camping in the whole area of Hungary in seven languages (of course it has English and German version, as well): http://www.camping.hu
View from my tent
View from my tent

Notice:
Generally there is a total fire ban (see later) in the forest and its 200 metres wide environs between spring and autumn, because of the dry Hungarian summers.

And finally some pieces of advices from me:

  • Look for a nice, hidden clearing or meadow in the forest far from the settlements to pitch your tent.
  • If there is/are hunters' highstands in the environs, do not pitch your tent in the shooting line. In this case the best position is to put the tent in the closest environs of the highstand, so the hunter will see you.
  • Do not pitch camp beside or onto the path, but stay in the vicinity of it.
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Fire ban

Generally there is a total FIRE BAN in the forest and its 200 metres wide environs because of the dry Hungarian weather! In this case to make fire is totally forbidden even at the built fireplaces of resting places! The current status of the fire ban is showed in this map:

Status of fire ban in Hungary
Status of FIRE BAN in Hungary
If you click onto the map, you will jump to the website of the National Disaster Recovery Department (Országos Katasztrófavédelmi Főigazgatóság), which contains this map.

Areas painted with red color in the map show those counties of Hungary, where making fire in the nature is prohibited!

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Accommodation in houses

Accommodation in pension

You can find accommodation in almost every villages, which is crossed by the path of the National Blue Trail. There are very good Hungarian websites, where you can look for guest houses/hotels along your hike:

If you don't find a settlement among the offer of the websites and you have to spend nevertheless a night on that place, you have many possibilities: either look for the “Zimmer Frei” boards on the walls of the houses - it is a German phrase and it means that they have a free room for the tourists - or ask for information in the shop or in the pub.


Tourist hostels

Only a few tourist hostels work beside the route of the National Blue Trail. They offer less services than guest houses, for example you won't get dinner or breakfast, the rooms don't have any toilet and lavatory, because they are on the corridor, or you have to share a room with other people, etc.

Their places and phone numbers are the following (in November 2007):

Name (English) Region and settlement Phone number
Káli tourist hostel Balaton-felvidék - Mindszentkálla village +36 20 311 6162
+36 70 381 0838
Kinizsi tourist hostel Balaton-felvidék - Nagyvázsony village +36 30 479 5013
Gerence pansion and tourist hostel Bakony Mountains - Bakonybél village +36 30 351 7642
Gránás tourist hotel Vértes Mountains - Gánt village +36 22 354 390
+36 20 989 3673
Gesztesvár tourist hostel Vértes Mountains - In the Castle of Várgesztes +36 34 493 881
+36 34 593 019
Sólyomfészek wodden houses Gerecse Hills - Pusztamarót +36 30 632 1296
Don Bosco ház (House of the Catholic Church) Gerecse Hills - Péliföldszentkereszt +36 33 355 800
Törökmező tourist hostel Börzsöny Mountains +36 27 350 063
Kisinóci tourist hostel Börzsöny Mountains - Kóspallag village +36 27 385 774
Nagy Hideg-hegy tourist hostel Börzsöny Mountains +36 27 999 048
Ágasvár tourist hostel Mátra Mountains +36 30 634 3435
Vörösmarty tourist hostel Mátra Mountains +36 37 374 042
Szarvaskő tourist hostel Mátra Mountains - Szarvaskő village +36 36 352 163
+36 30 928 8257
Bánkúti Síház Bükk Mountains - Bánkút village +36 46 390 182
+36 30 313 4676
Erdészeti (Forestry) tourist hostel Aggtelek Hills - Szelcepuszta +36 48 350 053
Kőbérc pansion and tourist hostel Zemplén Mountains - Bózsva village +36 47 370 141

Generally the weekends are booked in advance, if you drop into the hostel, you will get accommodation very likely only on weekdays.

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About the prices

It is a very difficult thing to write about the prices of the different camps, pensions and tourist hostels, because they depend on the region, the season, the quality of the accommodation and many other circumstances. But you can expect the following prices:

  • Campings: 500 - 1200 HUF/person/night and 500 - 1000 HUF/tent/night
  • Tourist hostels: 2.000 - 3.000 HUF/person/night
  • Accomodation in houses “Zimmer Frei”: 2.500 - 3.500 HUF/person/night
  • Guest houses: 4.000 - 8.000 HUF/person/night
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About the money and shopping

The money of Hungary

Hungary has an own money, this is the Hungarian Forint (HUF or Ft). The photos of all Hungarian coins and banknotes (valid and not valid ones) are the following:

COINS:
The small changes are the following: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 HUF - the 1 and 2 HUF coins were withdrawn from circulation in March 2008.

5 Forint coin 10 Forint coin
20 Forint coin 50 Forint coin
100 Forint coin 200 Forint coin

BANKNOTES:
The banknotes are: 500, 1000, 2000, 5.000, 10.000 and 20.000 HUF – the 200 HUF banknote was withdrawn from circulation in 2009.

IMPORTANT!
There is a replacement of banknotes in progress in Hungary! Pay attention to the banknotes, because some type have an old and a new version in the circulation! After the time limit the old banknotes are accepted only in post offices and in banks, where you can change them to the new version.

500 Forint banknote This type of banknote is still in circulation. There is no new version in circulation.
1000 Forint banknote This type of banknote is still in circulation. There is no new version in circulation.
2000 Forint banknote This type of banknote will stay in circulation until 31st July 2017. Don't accept it after this time limit! You can see the new version of this banknote in the next chart!
5000 Forint banknote This type of banknote will stay in circulation until 31st July 2017. Don't accept it after this time limit! You can see the new version of this banknote in the next chart!
10000 Forint banknote This type of banknote is still in circulation without any time limit, but is has already a new version! You can see the new version of this banknote in the next chart!
20000 Forint banknote This type of banknote will stay in circulation until 31st December 2017. Don't accept it after this time limit! You can see the new version of this banknote in the next chart!

THE NEW BANKNOTES:
The new banknotes are: 2000, 5.000, 10.000 and 20.000 HUF

2000 Forint banknote This type of banknote is in circulation from 15th November 2016.
5000 Forint banknote This type of banknote is in circulation from 15th November 2016.
10000 Forint banknote This type of banknote is in circulation from 2nd September 2014.
20000 Forint banknote This type of banknote is in circulation from 25nd September 2015.

The text “MINTA” is NOT on the original banknotes, it means that these photos are only samples about them.

The Hungarian shops, accommodations, restaurants accept only the Forint - the Euro is accepted only in the bigger hotels. So you have to change money somewhere after your arrival. There are money-changer offices at the railway stations and at the airports. You can change money at almost every bank in Budapest or in the countryside. 1 Euro is about 300-310 Forint at the different money changers (February 2017). But you can find exact data about the currency rates of the Hungarian Forint to the other currencies here: http://napiarfolyam.hu

If you will pay with Forint, you have to know, that the shop assistants don't like the big banknotes - 10.000 and 20.000 Forint - in the small shops, particularly in the villages.

Even the smallest villages have a small grocery, food and drink shops. These small shops open in relative early time, between 4-6 a.m. For this reason they close in the early afternoon, or they keep a longer lunch break. Don't expect a big selection in these groceries! Fresh bread and bakery are only in the early morning, but they have packeged durable bread, mineral water and tins continuously. Other products: a few type of sausages, cheese, a few vegetable, cheap beer, wine, cola, chocolates. You will find bigger shops, generally Tesco, Auchan, Aldi, Lidl in towns. They are open between 6 a.m. and 6-8 p.m.

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About credit cards

ATM machines are everywhere in the towns and in bigger villages, generally at the banks, in the shopping centres, super- and hypermarkets. These machines accept the VISA, Eurocard/Mastercard and American Express credit cards. Of course you can use credit cards to pay with them in different super- and hypermarkets, in the shopping centres and in other shops and restaurants in the towns. Contrarily the use of cards in the countryside is not as widespread as in the towns. Almost sure, that you can’t use them in the shops, pubs, smaller restaurants and guest houses in the villages! The situation is the same at the tourist hostels, as well.

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About the language and Hungarian people

Perhaps it is a little bit strange thing for you, but generally Hungarian people don't speak any foreign languages! Why? This is mainly the heritage of the former, socialistic system. On the one hand people could not visit other countries through the closed borders, on the other hand children learned the Russian language in the schools and never used it in the reality. So people didn't need the knowledge of any foreign languages.

Of course this situation has changed after the system change, as well. Children study generally English and/or German in the school, so you can speak a few words with the younger generation about the most important things. Nowadays about the 20% of people can speak one foreign language, they live mainly in towns. If you would like to get some information, look for and ask rather younger people.

Usually Hungarian people are helpful, they help certainly the aliens. They are very glad, if somebody greet them with Hungarian words, and they will explain the things with gesticulation.

Some useful Hungarian phrases and words:
The Hungarian is a polite nation, we use generally the “kívánok” word in the greetings.

  • Jó reggelt (kívánok)! - (I wish) Good morning!
  • Jó napot (kívánok)! - (I wish) Good day! - general greeting through the whole day
  • Jó estét (kívánok)! - (I wish) Good evening!
  • Jó éjszakát (kívánok)! - (I wish) Good night!
  • Viszontlátásra - See you later, goodbye
  • Hello! - general greeting at the younger generation
  • Hol van... - Where is...
  • Hol találok... - Where can I find...
  • mennyi... - how many, how much...
  • kérem - please
  • köszönöm - thank you
  • szállás - accommodation
  • bolt - shop

There is a very good website in English, where you can find the explanation of the Hungarian pronunciation with sound examples. On the one hand this is a very easy thing, because every Hungarian vowel and consonant has only one good pronunciation, on the other hand there are 44 characters in the Hungarian language with the short and long vowels, with the simple, double and triple consonants!

So if you are interested in the Hungarian language and pronunciation, visit this webpage, please! Its address: http://www.hungarotips.com/hungarian

But the chapter about the Hungarian language is only a part of this site, you can find here a lot of other information about the Hungarian culture, tradition, foods, famous people, etc.

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A Hungarian speciality: the dogs

If you walk through a Hungarian settlement, you will see the main difference between a West-European (or American) and Hungarian village. There are high wooden or metal fences around every yards! What is its reason? There is a Hungarian saying: My house is my castle. And people keep this saying! But there are guards in the yards similar to the castles and fortresses, as well!

Generally people keep dog at home in the countryside of Hungary, especially in the villages. But these dogs aren't the pets of the family, they have an own job: to guard the house and the yard. These animals mustn't enter the house - usually they live their life in the gardens, yards of houses!

These dogs are trained to signal with barking, when anybody approach to the house. They bark onto everybody: onto the postman, the policeman, the neighbours, generally every people! You have to accept that thing, if you go through a Hungarian village, you will escorted by the barking of dogs!

Fortunately people are consistent: beside the guards they keep closed the gate of the castle - in other words the gate of the yard. If you want something from a family, you have to ring. The button is always on the post of the gate! You have to know, even the best friend of the family comes, he/she have to wait at the closed gate until the master of the dog comes, shows to the dog that the visitor is a friend and open the gate!

There are such smaller factories, plants or premises in the countryside, where the gate isn't permanently closed. In this case dogs are on chain generally - my opinion, that this is cruelty of animals - or they are trained not to leave the area of the yards.

So dogs never leave the yard to follow anybody, they know that the border of their „empire” is the fence. If a dog escape from the yard and go to loaf around, or you meet with an ownerless, stray dog, it will get out from your way, without any barking. But this situation happens really very rarely.

But if after all you afraid of dog, buy an ultrasonic dog alarm - it will protect you hundred percently! But don't use it unnecessarily, when you and the dog are on different sides of the fences!

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About the Gypsies (Roma people)

Every foreign visitor is interested in this topic, because we have a very bad reputation in connection of Gypsies all over the world. I try to tell you the story of the Hungarian Roma people with my own words, because you can hardly find written documents in this topic. Why? I would like to explain it. Notice: The Roma and the Gipsy/Gypsy words have the same meaning in Hungarian, I will use them alternately.

History

If you click onto the picture, it will open in bigger size.
Wandering Gypsies somewhere on the countryside in the 19th century

The Gypsies appeared in Hungary in the area of the recent Slovakia first in the 14th century. According to the historical sources they came from the Middle East, from India. Later Gypsies spread in the whole country and they got protection from King Luxemburgi Zsigmond (Sigismund of Luxembourg), so they could wander and live without any restriction in the area of the former Hungarian Kingdom. A part of them moved on towards Western Europe, but the free wandering was forbidden for the Roma people in those countries, so they came back after a while and stayed in Hungary. This is the explanation of the big number of the Gypsies in the area of the former Hungary (recent Hungary, Slovakia, eastern part of Ukraine, Romania, northern part of Serbia). Although the Habsburgs - Queen Mária Terézia (Maria Theresa) and II. József (Joseph II.) tried to settle the Gypsies in the 18th century, they kept their freedom partly until the 20th century. But slowly Gypsy plants were built up at the borders of the settlements. After the World War 1 the government prohibited the free wandering of Roma people, but my mother still saw Gypsy caravans to travel through her village in the vicinity of Budapest in the 1930s. Unfortunately they didn’t have any organised job, they tried to live from different works: they bought and sold horses on the market, they made baskets and wooden tubs, they were the blacksmiths, etc.

If you click onto the picture, it will open in bigger size.
Gipsy camp in the forest in the 19th century.

But there was a big change after the World War 2. The work was a compulsory thing in the socialistic system; the law punished unemployed people. The Roma people went in the factories and did the simplest jobs, which didn’t need much knowledge, or they stayed in villages and worked in farmers’ co-operatives. The ugly Roma quarters began to disappear, the education was almost complete in the elementary schools. Gypsies had permanent earning from their work and they got support to upbringing their children: family allowance – as every other Hungarian family. It seemed, the situation of Gypsies got better, but the system change came at the end of the 1980s.

If you click onto the picture, it will open in bigger size.
Gipsy coach in the 1920's

The uneconomic factories were closed, the farmers’ co-operatives disappeared because of the division of arable lands. The big towns in the vicinity of Cserehát Hills: Miskolc, Diósgyőr and Ózd had big steel and iron factories, all of their workers became unemployed in the 1990s. The better educated „Hungarian” people moved to another places to find a new job, but Gypsies stayed there. The change of the population began in that time: the cheap houses were bought by Roma people, the rest of „Hungarian” people escaped from the settlements. Only the old pensioners left in those villages.

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Present condition:

The Gipsies in the percentage of the population in 1987
THE GIPSIES IN THE PERCENTAGE OF THE WHOLE POPULATION IN 1987
If you click onto the map, it will open in bigger size.

I have found a map in the secondary school's geographical map collection of my daughter about the population of the Roma people in the percentage of the whole population of Hungary before the regime change. The survey happened between 1984 and 1987, as you can see on the left-bottom side of the map. Although she studied after the regime change, this map was forgotten in the collection (explanation later)! The percentage of the Roma population was the biggest in the Cserehát (north-eastern region) and in the Baranya region (south-western region). The situation have gotten worse since that time because of the change of population. The Blue Trail go across the Cserehát region, but avoid Baranya county, as you can see on the other map .

The mentioned movement of the Roma people became a real deadlock: now they don’t have any earning in the small settlements, so they cannot escape from this situation! Nevertheless they could find a half-solution: this is the family allowance, which is about 13.000 HUF (about 40 Euro) for every child! The solution is to reproduce yourself! Girls begin to bear in very young age: usually a 15-16 years old “woman” already has children, and the number of the children is very high (5-10) in the families.

But this is the biggest dead-end for the Gypsies and the Hungarian state, as well! Roma people cannot understand that on the one hand the support is bigger if women bear more children, but on the other hand the earning is the same few Forints at every child! The amount of the monetary support with the dole (aid for unemployed people) is always bigger and bigger, and it will reach that limit soon, what the government – or the whole Hungarian nation – do not able to pay! Unfortunately the crisis of the world economic made more serious situation! Many thousands of working people have lost their job and need dole, as well! It is fact, Hungary has the lowest percentage of working people among the whole population in the European Union: it is hardly 30%!

At present the most part of Roma people live in the deepest destitution, and I see, there is hardly any possibility to escape from this situation! The Gypsies have to eat up everything in their environs because of the lack of appropriate earnings, they cut and fire the trees of the forests, destroy the empty houses of the settlements - these are the former houses of the escaped “Hungarian” people -, and try to sell every valuable thing of them. The wealthy Roma people borrow money with very high interest for the poor ones, they have to pay it back from the few family support, and unfortunately the delinquency spreads more and more among the Gypsies.

A new idea was born at the 1990’s: the “subsistence criminality”! This concept is linked to Mr. Gábor Kuncze, to the former liberal minister of interior affairs. It is exactly the opposite of the “zero tolerance”, because the subsistence criminality means, we have to be indulgent with the Roma people, if they steal cheap things, because it is necessary for their everyday life!

These things are very well-known in Hungary, but we take the “democracy” in the wrong sense and a lot of people believe that we would harm the human rights, if we took difference between people and we say: there are Roma and not Roma people. Doesn’t exist any statistic about the exact number of Roma people, about the Roma delinquency, because we must not take any difference among people! But we can see, there are whole counties in Hungary, where only they live (manly in Cserehát Hills and Baranya Region) and we can see, this situation is a really Catch-22! The situation is similar in other regions of Hungary, as well, but they aren’t in majority on those places, only in the mentioned parts of the country.

Hungarian people feel that we are not able to keep almost one million unemployed Roma and see, that the delinquency gets bigger and bigger among them. Their sin is small: they steal the food and the money which is necessary to their life, but the society cannot accept the behaviour of Roma people, and the tolerance is always smaller. Gypsies steal from their “Hungarian” neighbours in the mixed villages, and the Police is powerless against the million tiny stealing and against the growing number of serious crimes, too. But one thing is sure: Gypsies do not condemn those members of the Roma society, who steal for his own subsistence from the “Hungarians”. The Magyar Gárda – Hungarian Guards – was founded by right-sided people to protect the society from the “Roma Risk”, and although it is out of law already, it has a lot of follower.

Of course, Roma people feel the danger, as well, some of them tried to move abroad, to ask for political asylum in different countries, for example in Sweden or in Canada, and a few families travelled in Strasburg some years ago. Unfortunately these countries do not keep open house for Roma people, because they saw, refugees didn’t study the language, didn’t want to work, they wanted only dole and home. In some cases they restored the visa system against the Hungarian and Slovak people to stop the migration of Gypsies into the countries, or the French government sent the Roma people back in their mother countries.

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Is there any solution?

I think these are the last seconds of the 24th hour! One thing is sure: we have to do something, because the whole society will crash down! The one and only solution is to lift up again the Roma people and give them permanent work. But during the last 20 years a whole Roma generation grown up without any work, and they think it is a natural thing to get dole without any work! The working society can see, that Gipsies feel pretty well in this situation and don’t want to change anything! It will be very a very hard, expensive and long procedure!

Perhaps we should begin with the education. Unfortunately Roma children can see in the family that they are able to live from the dole. They can see that they could avoid the punishment for the subsistence criminality. The lack of motivation in the study determines their destiny: if they don’t learn, won’t have job, they will be unemployed people. They will live from the doles, and the big circle begins again!

The right-sided party named “Jobbik” has got more than 12% place in the new Hungarian Parliament on the election in 2010 and 2014. It shows that a big part of Hungarian people is waiting for strong change, and not important if that change will be hard or bloody against the Gypsies!

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Should we afraid of the Roma people?

The Roma culture is totally different from ours, many times I do not understand their attitude, although I lived here my whole life. Generally they do not keep order in the gardens around their houses, they live their society life on the streets, they are much louder, than other people, but it is only the surface of the great sea of differences. But after all a lot of Roma people are honest, I hiked many times among them, and until this time they stole nothing from me, I didn’t have any problem with them. The Hungarian hikers have different forums on the Internet, where we chat a lot with each other, the news spread very fast there, but nobody from the hikers have suffered any harm from the Roma people in their villages!

When my son and I walked on the Blue Trail in the Cserehát Hills, we had accommodation in Rakacaszend village in the kindergarten, In Felsővadász village in the gym of the school and Encs in a guest house. We did not have any problem or conflict with the Roma people. They answered gladly when we asked for information, we sat together with them in the pubs, and we walked among them through the Cserehát! I think there is not any risk to travel through the Cserehát for foreign people, and the situation is the same with the accommodations! I can give only one advice: don’t show your values (mobile phone, GPS, expensive cameras, jewels, etc.) because there is a Hungarian saying: Devil never sleeps!

Finally I have to tell you honestly again, this long article is only the opinion of mine and my hiker friends, and not the official point of view – because the official point says: There is not any Gypsy problem in Hungary. The reasons were mentioned above. If you are interested in this topic, I would like to recommend you a longer article, which was published in 2010 about the Roma problem, before the elections.

This was a little bit long chapter, but I hope, you understand better the Hungarian reality now! If you are interested in this topic read this, already mentioned stuff:
The re-evaluation of the Roma policy in Hungary
This article was on the already closed http://www.budapestanalyses.hu/ website in 2010, fortunately I downloaded it. I selected the photos about roma people in an article from the well known Hungarian photogapher, Mr. Ákos Stiller. I think these photos are the best to introduce the unimgaginable powerty and the closed world of gypsies.

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About the weather of Hungary

Official description:

Hungary has a mainly continental climate with big yearly temperature change, it has four different seasons and generally a little bit lower average temperature, than the global. The Hungarian summer is long and generally dry, the average temperature of three months (June, July and August) exceeds the 18 degrees Celsius and many times the highest temperature reach the 35 degrees Celsius. The hotter month is the July with 22 degrees Celsius average temperature. The temperature of the winter is changeable, cold and warmer times follow each other, but there is only one month (it is January) with lower average temperature, than 0 degree Celsius. Winters are usually dry, we have only rarely bigger snow, mainly in the mountains.

The yearly amount of the rainfall is changeable (600-1000 mm), it depends on the regions - among the mountains more, on the plains less, but generally the spring and the autumn are the two more wet seasons.

The amount of the sunny hours is between 1700 and 2100 - among the mountains less, on the Big Hungarian Plain is the most. Hungary do not have any seaside but it lies close to them, so our climate is influenced by three big factors: first the continental climate, but in second line the wet and mild oceanic climate and the mediterrain climate have a big effect to the Hungarian weather.

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Explanation:

But what does it means in the reality? I try to explain it with simple words. Generally the second half of April, May and June have a lot of rain. That time the big Atlantic cyclones run through Hungary and they bring always rainfall.

Later the cyclones don't touch Hungary because generally develops a high pressure area above the Carpathian Basin and it force the weaker Atlantic cyclones onto a more northern route through the German and Polish plains. This is the time of the hot and dry Hungarian summer! Only the explosive local thunder-showers can decrease the hot. These high pressure areas live only 5-10 days, because the stonger Atlantic or Mediterranean cyclones can break through them and bring 1-3 wet and cool days. The end of this long period is usually in the second half of August. The different Mediterranean and Atlantic cyclones follow each other in the whole September, we have only short pauses among them. But generally they are “dry” and don't bring a lot of rain.

Later we have a shorter or longer sunny period in Oktober - this is the time of the Hungarian “Indian Summer” - but November is a generally wet month and the December bring the cold.

This was the description of a usual year. But the global warming has changed a lot of things in the climate of Hungary. What does it means? In one hand the sudden changes are bigger: the cyclones are more stormy and powerful after the dry and very hot periods, in other hand the difference among the same seasons are bigger. For example the summer of 2006 was very wet, but in 2007 we didn't see any rain! 2008 and 2009 were two average years, but 2010 was the rainiest year in the history of the Hungarian meteorogy!

If you plan a two week long hike in Hungary in any times, it is almost sure, that you will get a longer-shorter rainy period!

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Some diagrams:

And finally I would like to show some diagrams about the weather of Hungary. I made these graphs from the collected data of the last 100 years in Budapest. These data are on the website of the Institute of Meteorology. Let's speak first about the temperature! The blue columns show the monthly average temperature of the coldest months in the past 100 years, the yellow ones show the hottest months and the red ones the 100 years monthly mean temperature in Budapest.

This graph shows that July, August, September and Oktober have the smallest rainfall between the rainy weather of the spring and autumn. But you have to remember, that these months are not totally dry! There is a big chance to get a rainy period even in the summer!

And this is a very interesting diagram. It shows the percentage of the sunny hours to the possible maximum. The possible maximum would be that number of the sunny hours, when on every day of the month the Sun could shine between the dawns and sunsets from the clean sky. The graph shows, that the most sunny months are the June, July, August and September in average, but the autumnal months (September and Oktober) can be either very nice, or (rarely) very bad!

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Maps and other things

More publishers have maps about the Hungarian regions, but only the Cartographia Company has a full collection of maps.

You can buy the maps on the Internet, its address is:
http://www.cartographia.hu/. You can find the maps of the Hungarian regions and the two volumes of the Tourist guide of the National Blue Trail (name on the website: Kéktúra I.-II.) here. The travelogues of the volumes are only in Hungarian, so you perhaps will not understand the text, but the maps of the books are very useful, because they show the whole route of the Trail in scale 1:40.000.

The second possibility is to buy the maps and travelogues in the shop of the Cartographia. The map shop is in the downtown of Budapest, its address is 37 Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út, Budapest. You can approach it by a five minutes long walk from the M3 underground station named “Arany János utca”.

You can buy the personal completion booklet of the Blue Trail in this shop, as well. You can collect the stamps of the National Blue Trail in this small booklet, and I think it is a very useful helpmate with its exact distance and elevation data.

I put here the photos of the tourist guides and the new version of completion booklet:

The first volume of Tourist Guide of the Travelogues of National Blue Trail The second volume of Tourist Guide of the Travelogues of National Blue Trail
The two volumes of Tourist Guide of National Blue Trail


The stamping booklet of the Blue Trail
The stamping booklet of the Blue Trail


About the signs of the paths
If you click onto the picture, it will open in bigger size.
Painted signs on the ridge of Matra Mountains. They show the route from both directions.

The Hungarian hiker's paths are signed with painted trail marks. Their size is about 12 X 10 cm at the stripe marks, the size of the others is about 10 X 10 cm. Four colours are used: blue, red, green and yellow. The paths are signed in both directions. The work of the painters is good, if you can see the next mark from the previous one. The trail marks are painted more often at forking or crossing place of different signed paths. If the route of the paths is unambiguous - for example it goes on good dirt roads or in line cuts through the forest, you will find the marks more rarely.




Let's see now the different marks:

Name: Sign: Written: Description:
Stripes K, P, Z, S These main signs cross whole mountains or regions in Hungary. They begin at those places, which are good accessible with public transport vehicles (train, coaches, etc.). Signs in the map: K (blue), P (red), Z (green) and S (yellow).
Crosses K+, P+, Z+, S+ The paths are signed with this trail marks, begin at the route of the main signs and generally they offer some other possibilities parallel with the main route to reach your target. Signs in the map: K+ (blue cross), P+ (red cross), Z+ (green cross) and S+ (yellow cross).
Squares K□, P□, Z□, S□ Their paths begin at the main trail markings and they lead to some populated places, tourist hostels or to the stop of public transport vehicles. Signs in the map: K□ (blue square), P□ (red square), Z□ (green square) and S□ (yellow square).
Triangles KΔ, PΔ, ZΔ, SΔ These paths lead to the peaks of mountains or to other good lookout points. Signs in the map: KΔ (blue triangle), PΔ (red traingle), ZΔ (green triangle) and SΔ (yellow triangle).
Circles KO, PO, ZO, SO These paths go to permanent, built springs. Signs in the map: KO (blue circle), PO (red circle), ZO (green circle) and SO (yellow circle).
Omegas KΩ, PΩ, ZΩ, SΩ These signed paths go to caves or gorges. Signs in the map: KΩ (blue omega), PΩ (red omega), ZΩ (green omega) and SΩ (yellow omega).
Round tours KC, PC, ZC, SC Their starting and finishing points are the same and they visit generally more sights from the paths of the main trail marks. Signs in the map: KC (blue round arrow), PC (red round arrow), ZC (green round arrow) and SC (yellow round arrow).
Ruins KL, PL, ZL, SL The paths, which are signed with these trail marks, go to some ruined castles, monasteries or to other built sights from the main route. Signs in the map: KL (blue ruins), PL (red ruins), ZL (green ruins) an SL (yellow ruins).

All of the paths are signed with red lines in the maps, and different characters show the colour and type of the path. This a very easy and clean thing, but many times the different signed routes use the same way! In this case you can find more signs on a tree, and more characters beside the red line of the path in the map. I show you a small map detail about the environs of Dobogókő, which is a well-known center of the different signed paths. Try to recognise the signing characters of the paths in it! Attention! The size of the map detail is 722 kByte!

Click onto the picture to see it in bigger size
Map detail about the environs of Dobogókő
If you click onto the map, it will open in bigger size.

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Orientation with GPS and mobile phone

There is a very good website in Hungary, which shows almost the whole net of the marked hikers path. A lot of hikers are the editors of this site, they upload their tracks. The routes of important, well-known trails, for Example the National Blue Trail are exact on this website. Its address is:
http://www.openstreetmap.hu/?zoom=8&lat=47.25127&lon=19.36615&tur=1 This map shows almost the whole route of the hiking path net in Hungary. On this map you can plan the whole hike along the National Blue Trail. A big part of the hikers use GPS or mobile phone in the orientation. You can download the whole net of hiking path from this site and upload it onto the GPS or mobile phone. Its size is about 157 MByte, its adress is: http://data2.openstreetmap.hu/garmin/gmapsupp.img
It is a very usable website! I made a screenshot from the map of it:


Click onto the picture to see it in bigger size
A screenshot about the environs of Dobogókő
Compare it with the picture of the paper hiking map!

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Should I stamp during the hike, or not?

Well, it is difficult question. As I wrote, a very important part in the life of a Hungarian hiker to complete the whole Blue Trail. If we collect every stamp along the Blue Trail in our small booklet, we will get small badge from the Hungarian Rambler's Association. But you will complete during your hike only a shorter or longer section of the more than 1100 km long trail. In this case you don't have to collect the stamps, only walk on the route and admire the wonderful countryside of Hungary. But to collect the stamps is a very good entertainment on the hike!

If you decide to walk along a section of the Blue Trail, you can choose among them, which have an own prize. They are written in the chapter of the badges. But if you choose other sections, the personal completion booklet with the stamps of the walked sections can be a very nice relic of your Hungarian hike. If you want to stamp during the hike, you will find some advices in the next chapter.


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Some good advice regarding to the stamping

Where can I buy the personal comletion booklet?

You can order it from the Hungarian Rambler's Association. You must write a letter to the association (its postal address is: Magyar Természetjáró Szövetség, 1244 Budapest, Pf.: 846.) and they will post the booklet to your address. You will pay at the delivery. The price of the booklet is 1260 HUF (about 4 Euro).

You can buy it in the central office of the Hungarian Rambler's Accociation in Budapest. Its address is: 11 Károly körút, Budapest. The offie buildig is located exactly in the centre of Budapest, you can reach it with five minutes walk from the underground station named „Deák tér”. The office of the association is on the seventh floor. Costumer reception is on every working day between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

You can order or buy personally a lot of publication. The list of them is here:
http://termeszetjaro.hu/kiadvanyok. They are mainly personal completion booklets of hiking movements, travelogues and maps.


The central office of the Hungarian Rambler's Association is located in this building


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Where can I find the stamps?

The National Blue Trail has 148 stamping places, where you have to prove, you were there. A lot of stamps are located in the shops or pubs of the settlement, which are on the route of the Blue Trail, but you will find stamps in their own metal boxes in the forest, generally equipped on the trees. There is a very good forum, where the hikers share their experimences regarding to the stamps of the Blue Trail: http://www.teljesitmenyturazoktarsasaga.hu/okt_forum. You will see the whole list of the stamping places on the openinp page. If you click on the name of a place, its subpage will open with the comments. The newest comments are on top. Of course, it is only in Hungarian, but there are already good translator softwares on mobile phones and tablets.

The Hungarian Rambler's Association has an official record about the stamping places, it downloadable from this place. It is a PDF document and it is in Hungarian, as well.


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How can I stamp?

It is a very simple thing: there are squares (boxes) with the name of the stamping places in your personal completion booklet. You must push the stamp into the appropriate square. Of course you need to this thing a good ink pad, because of the infrequent use the stamps are generally dry. There are some stamping places, which have two boxes in the booklet, they are on the limits of the 27 sections of the Blue Trail. The first box is for the last stamp of one section, the another one is for the first stamp of the next section. You must stamp twice on these places.

Stamping place in Szandaváralja village A closer photo from the stamp
The stamping place in Szandaváralja village. If you click on the pictures, they will open in bigger size.

What happens, if you don't find the stamp, or it is unusable? Appropriate verification could be the stamp of any other company, establishment, local government, school, drug store, agricultural cooperative, community centre, committee or contractor, on which appears the name of the stamping place. It is possible to get a dated (cancellation) stamp in the post offices, but in that case the Hungarian Post may ask you to buy one (sticking) stamp in the brochure. If you can't find any other stamp (for example it happens at a forester's lodge in the woods), you must take a photo about you and the stamping place together (a selfie with the stamping place) similar to the left photo above. One thing is relevant: you and the stamping place must be recognizable!

Az igazoló füzet 52. oldala Az igazoló füzet 52. oldala
Two pages of my booklet with the stamps

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How can I obtain the badge after the hike?

You must hand over the personal completion booklet the Hungarian Rambler's Accociation (if you comleted the whole Blue Trail) or to the local rambler's association for the region badges. If you would like to obtain the badges of the Children's Blue Trail for your child, it happens at the Hungarian Rambler's Association. You can either post the booklet to the associations, or hand it over personally in the offices. The evaluation process keeps for one-two weeks. You don't have to wait until its finish in Hungary, if you give a postal address, and pay the cost of the badge and the postal expenses, they will post the badge for you.


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Other information

I collected here that information, which I couldn't put in other chapters. You have to prepare for the ticks! There are very good sprays against them, and you have to use them regularly! The ticks can carry different diseases, for example the Lime-disease and some type of meningitis. If you protect yourself and check your body every day, the situation isn't dangerous. The long trousers are very good protection, as well.

Don’t drink from creeks and rivers! Their water can be polluted. Use only the water of the built springs. Unfortunately because of the dry summers of the last years the springs are dryed out, or don't work permanently.

Generally there are public water taps in the villages. Their colour is blue, you can find them beside the roads. They are connected to the water pipe system of the settlements, so they have always clean and cool water. Use them with confidence. Unfortunately the governments of the settlements close them often, because they don't want to pay the price of the water to the supplier company.

The time zone of Hungary is UTC+1 in winter and UTC+2 in summer.

If you would like to use the stamps along the National Blue Trail and to collect their prints, you have to buy a small (appr. 5 X 5 cm) inking pad, because the stamps are usually dry.

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