National Blue Trail



GENERAL INFORMATION

CONTENT LABELS

Arrival and travel in Hungary

What to do if you arrive by plane or train? About the tickets of the public transport in the capital, about the travel in countryside by trains or coaches.

About accommodation and wild camping

Wild camping in Hungary? YES! - only with a few limiting conditions. When and where is fire ban in the forests? Accommodations in guesthouses, tourist houses. About the prices.

About money and shopping

The money of Hungary. A replacement of banknotes is in progress in Hungary! Which banknotes are in circulation and which are already withdrawed? About credit cards. About the shopping in towns and in villages.

About the Hungarian language and people

A few useful Hungarian phrases. About the mentality of Hungarian people. Why don't speak Hungarians foreign languages?

A Hungarian speciality: the dogs

Why Hungarians keep dogs in the yards in coutryside? How can you enter in the yards? What to do, if you encounter a stray dog?

About the Gypsies (Roma people)

The history of the Roma population in Hungary. What is the recent situation? Is there any solution? Should we afraid of Gypsies?

About the weather of Hungary

The description of the Hungarian weather. Explanation and diagrams about the Hungarian seasons.

Hiker maps and the signs of the hiker paths

About hikers' maps, the guidebooks of the National Blue Trail. About the different signs of the paths. Hiker map softwares for mobile phones.

Information about the stamping

About the stamping: should you stamp during the hike, or not? Where can you buy the personal validation booklet? How can you find the stamps? How can you obtain the badge of the National Blue Trail?


Arrival and travel in Hungary

If you come by plane:
Budapest - Ferihegy-1 Airport Terminal

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 old terminal is the Liszt Ferenc Repülőtér 1, and it is used by only a few airliners, they are mainly charter flights. The new terminals are the Liszt Ferenc Repülőtér 2A and 2B. The blue public transport busses number 100E and 200E start from Ferihegy 2A and 2B airport terminals on the arrival level. The bus number 100E is a direct bus to the centre of Budapest, the travelling time is about 40 minutes. You can use it with special ticket, its price is 900 HUF, you can buy it at the driver. The bus number 200E goes to the terminal of the underground line number 3 (Metro line 3 or M3) at Kőbánya-Kispest railway station, and has a station at the old terminal. The travelling time with this bus is 20 minutes. You can travel farther with M3 to the downtown (it is a further 15 minutes long travel). Three underground lines of Budapest cross each other at the Deák tér (Deák Square), this is geometric centre of the capital.

Budapest - Ferihegy 2A and 2B Airport Terminals

Budapest - Ferihegy 2A and 2B Airport Terminals on the Google Earth

The busses start really often, in every 10-15 minutes. 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 4000-5000 HUF – it depends on the distance and the travelling time.

If you come by train:
Budapest - Déli Railway Station

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.

About the tickets of the public transport of Budapest
Budapest - Tram on the Nagykörút

Budapest - Tram on the Nagykörút. Photo: www.bkv.hu

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.

Budapest - Articulated bus in front of the Museum of Fine Arts

Budapest - Articulated bus in front of the Museum of Fine Arts. Photo: BKV-figyelő

You have to validate a new ticket at every travel! You can't change and travel farther with one ticket! You will find many ticket validating devices on the handrails of busses and trams. But there are many busses, mainly in the outskirt of Budapest, where you can use only the first door to get on. In this case you have to show the new ticket to the driver, and validate it with that device, which is mounted at the first door.
The situation is a little bit different at the underground lines! There are no ticket validating devices on the trains, you must validate the ticket when you enter the area of the underground. This ticket will be valid in the next 80 minutes, or until you leave the area of the underground! It means literally, you can change among the underground lines many times.
Important: If you travel in the town with the public transport vehicles, you will meet often with the inspectors of the public transport company! Don't pretend, you don't understand them, because they will call the police (or a policeman is with them), and they will escort you to the police station. The travel conditions are in Hungarian/English/German versions on the windows of the vehicles!

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
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 two days, its cost contains free entry in museums. MORE 9900 HUF
Budapest card (for 72 hours) Budapest kártya 72 órás It is valid for two days, its cost contains free entry in museums. MORE 12990 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 shows always the momentary state of the lines. 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

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:

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:
https://menetrendek.hu/ Unfortunately it has only Hungarian version, but on one hand it is suitable to plan your travel only by busses (click on “Csak busz járatok”), on the other hand you can start a combined search with bus and train together (Busz, vonat és hajó járatok).

Travel by inter-settlement busses:
Budapest - Népliget Bus Station

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:
https://menetrendek.hu/ (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 (January 2019):

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 more, than 100 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. But there are strongly protected areas on the route of the Blue Trail, where a wild camping is really prohibited! These areas are the Plateau of Bükk Mountains between Bélapátfalva village and Mályinka village and the shore of Lázbérci-víztároló Reservoir between Dédestapolcsány and Uppony villages.

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!

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:



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! You can check the current status of the fire ban on this website:

http://www.katasztrofavedelem.hu/index2.php?pageid=monitor_tuzgyujtasi_tilalom

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

Accommodation in houses

Accommodation in gueshouses

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.



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:



About money and shopping

About the Hungarian currency

Hungary has an own money, this is the Hungarian Forint (HUF or Ft).

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. 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.

1 Forint coin 2 Forint coin 5 Forint coin 10 Forint coin 20 Forint coin 50 Forint coin 100 Forint coin 200 Forint coin

BANKNOTES:
These photos show the new versions of the Hungarian currencies. You can accept and pay with them without any limitation. The text "MINTA" is not on the banknote in the reality, it means the photo is only a sample about the original banknote!

The new 500 HUF banknote The new 1000 HUF banknote The new 2000 HUF banknote The new 5000 HUF banknote The new 10000 HUF banknote The new 20000 HUF banknote

The following photos show the old version of the Hungarian currenies. Those banknotes, which you can see in red frame with the red “BEVONVA” text, are already withdrawn from the circulation. You can pay with the old version of 500 HUF Banknote until 31th Oktober 2019. The old version of 10000 HUF banknote is in circulation without any time limit.

The old 500 HUF banknote The old 1000 HUF banknote The old 2000 HUF banknote The old 5000 HUF banknote The old 10000 HUF banknote The old 20000 HUF banknote

The Hungarian shops, accommodations, restaurants accept only Forint - 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 310-330 Forint at the different money changers (January 2019). 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 shop. 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 packed 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.


About the 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.

So, you have to keep always cash in your wallit for the costs of the next 4-5 day, until you will reach the next ATM!




About the Hungarian language and 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” (I wish) word in the greetings.

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.




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!



About the Gypsies (Roma people)

A little history

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. But it is more difficult to find a name for those people, who are not Gypsy/Roma. These people are the majority of the whole society, I will call them “Hungarians”

Wandering Gypsies somewhere on the countryside in the 19th century

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.

Gipsy camp in the forest in the 19th century

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.

Gipsy coach in the 1920's

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.


Present condition

The Gipsies in the percentage of the population in 1987
THE GIPSIES IN THE PERCENTAGE OF THE WHOLE POPULATION IN 1987 WITH THE ROUTE OF BLUE TRAIL
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. I put the route of the Blue Trail onto this map.

Although my daughter 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 goes across the Cserehát region, but avoids Baranya county, as you can see on the map.

Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 1.

Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 1.

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 (4-6) in the families. A real population explosion happened in the Gypsie society in the past almost 30 years!

Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 2.

Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 2.

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 in 2008 made more serious situation! Many thousands of working people had lost their job and needed dole, as well! It is fact, Hungary had the lowest percentage of working people among the whole population in the European Union in that time: it was 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.

Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 3.

Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 3.

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! This is the effort of the so-called “political correctness” or in short: PC. But we can see, there are whole counties in Hungary, where only they live (manly in Cserehát Hills and Baranya Region) and 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.

Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 4.

Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 4.

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.


Is there any solution?
Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 5.

Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 5.

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!

The Hungarian government launched the public work for the unemployed people in 2011, mainly in the countryside of Hungary, where the Roma population live. People, who are employed in the public work system keep the order in the villages, clean the streets or maintain the public utilities. Local governments organizes the work, unfortunately they can't employ every unemployed people, only a few months in a year because the lack of money.

The second thing is on the one hand to decrease the number of children in the very poor (Roma) families, on the second hand to increase the number of children in the whealthy families, because the statistics show, the population is decreasing and gets older and older in the country. The government launched a new family support system in 2012, it keeps the sum of the family allowance (13.000 HUF) and the inflation decreases its value continuously, but families with multiple children get besides the family allowance a significant tax discount, too. It means, working parents of minimum three children don't pay personal income tax! The results are already visible, “Hungarian” families undertake more children in the last few years and the number of newborn Gypsy children perhaps decreases very slowly.

Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 6.

Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 6.

The second breakout point is perhaps the education. Unfortunately Roma children can see in the family that they are able to live from the dole, the work is not an important thing. They can see that they can 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!


Should we afraid of the Roma people?
Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 7.

Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 7.

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!

Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 8.

Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 8.

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!

Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 9.

Gypsies in Hungary - Present situation 9.

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.



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.



The mounthly mean temperatures in Budapest

The mounthly mean temperatures in Budapest
The mounthly mean rainfall in Budapest

The mounthly mean rainfall in Budapest
The amount of mounthly sunny hours

The amount of mounthly sunny hours
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 early 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? On the one hand the sudden changes are bigger: the cyclones are more stormy and powerful after the dry and very hot periods, on the 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 weeks long hike in Hungary in any times, it is almost sure, that you will get a longer-shorter rainy period!



A few diagrams:

And finally I would like to show a few diagrams about the weather of Hungary. I have collected the data and made these graphs from the data archivum of the last 100 years' meteorology in Budapest. These data are on the website of the Institute of Meteorology. The capital is in good geographical position to explain the Hungarian weather, because it lies on the border of the northern mountain and the plain.

You can see three diagrams on the right side. Let's speak first about the temperature! The blue columns show the monthly average temperature of the coldest months in the past 100 years in Budapest, the yellow ones show the hottest months and the red ones the 100 years monthly mean temperature in Budapest.

The second 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!




Hiker maps and the signs of the hiker paths

Hiker maps about the National Blue Trail

More publishers have hiker maps about the Hungarian regions and mountains, they cover almost the whole route of the National Blue Trail, but only the Cartographia Company/ has a special tourist guide about the National Blue Trail. This company publishes and distributes the two volumes of Blue Trail Tourist guidebook.

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 (partly in 1:60.000).

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 (validation) 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 newest version of tourist guides, but I will tell more information about the stamping later, in other chapter.

The two volumes of Tourist Guide of National Blue Trail:

The first volume of Tourist Guide of the National Blue Trail The second volume of Tourist Guide of the National Blue Trail


About the signs of the paths
Painted signs on the ridge of Matra Mountains

Painted signs on the ridge of Matra Mountains

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!

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



Orientation with GPS and mobile phone

I would like to recommend two softwares, they can run on mobile phones under the Locus map. Both of them show the whole net of Hungarian hiker paths, of course together with the route of the National Blue Trail. The first is the Mapforge, its appearance is similar to the hiker maps, but it shows the the different paths with their original signs, de second one is the Openstreetmap, here the routes are marked with the characters, which are written above in the chart. Of course you can install them on hiker GPS, as well. You can download them from here:

The Mapforge (left) and the Openstreetmap (right) on my Samsung A5 mobile phone.

The Mapforge map on my mobile phone The Openstreetmap on my mobile phone



Information about the stamping

Should I stamp during the hike, or not?

Well, it is a difficult question. As I wrote, a very important part in the life of a Hungarian hiker to complete the whole National Blue Trail. If we collect every stamp along the trail in our booklet, we will get a 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 during the hike!

If you decide to walk along a section of the Blue Trail, you can choose among those, 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 completed distance 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.



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 office building 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.

Of course you can buy the personal validation booklet and other maps and books in the TuristaShop, which is the webshop of the Hungarian Rambler's Association.

The building of the Hungarian Rambler's Association

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


Where can I find the stamps?

The National Blue Trail has 150 stamping places, where you have to prove the fact, that 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 experiences 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 opening 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.



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 a good ink pad to do this thing, because of the infrequent use the stamps are generally dry. There are places beside the boxes of stamps to write the date of your visit at the stamping place. If you interrupt your hike at a stamping place, and later you continue the hike from that place, you have to write two dates beside the box of stamp, but if you stop only for the stamping at a place, and continue the hike immediatelly, you can write only one date in the booklet.

Stamping place in Szandaváralja village

The stamping place in Szandaváralja village. I am stamping in an older version of the booklet.

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). One thing is relevant: you and the stamping place must be recognizable!

Page 40 in the booklet

A page of my personal validation booklet with stamps


How can I obtain the badge after the hike?

You must hand over the personal completion booklet to the Hungarian Rambler's Accociation (if you completed 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 postal expenses, they will post the badge for you.







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