Traveling is good. Especially to places where you experience the thrill of discovery, where new worlds open to you, where you feel that you see what few before you. For many years I have followed such roads, looking for these worlds, and since Río Wang has been running on, I also try to regularly give news here about such discoveries. Many people has drawn ideas from these reports or asked for advice to their travels to Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, the former Soviet Union, the Caucasus, Iran, Turkey or China, and many suggested that if I also guided otheres there, they would happily come with me, too.
A final push to this long nursed plan was given by the invitation of the Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association, whose members, on reading our posts on Lemberg/Lwów, asked me in this spring to be their guide on their four-day Lemberg-Galicia tour. At the end of the journey, on the way home many fellow travelers have suggested how willingly they would visit other places of the region’s Jewish and non-Jewish heritage with me as a guide. And I would willingly take other people to the places which I have been researching and visiting for years, either alone, or in the company of Két Sheng, our Hebrew expert, and Wang Wei, the great connoisseur of Spanish Jews.
The first of these travels was organized at the end of July for the Lwów/L’viv klezmer festival, announced for the fourth time in this year: here you can read the reports of the participants. Before leaving, we have promised to announce after our return the list of the other travels suggested for this year as well as our plans for the next year, which now follow below.
This post, as a collecting entry of our planned and already organized travels will be pinned at the margin, under the other “Threads”, and will be regularly updated with the birth, maturing and realization of the new travel plans. Check back regulary.
Plans for this year
In the conversations with our readers and fellow travelers, the ideas of the following travels have been outlined for the rest of 2012. It depends on the number of applicants which one will be really launched. Please, therefore, if you are interested in any of them, indicate it without any obligation at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible, let us say, until 20 August. The travels will be decided and their exact costs calculated on the basis of the number of participants, and we will publish it at the end of August together with the detailed program of the ways. The language of the guide – optionally, English, Italian, German or Spanish – will depend on the composition of the group.
• A weekend in Lemberg/Lwów, 20-23 September (Thursday-Sunday). Many of you have indicated that at the time of the late July klezmer festival you had already other programs, but in late September you would willingly come to a Lemberg tour. In these four days we will walk over the old city of Lemberg, the Art Nouvea suburbs and the surviving monuments of the Jewish neighborhood, will visit the open air museum of Rusyn wooden folk architecture, the pantheon of the Łyczakówski cemetery, the Janowska death camp and the ideal Renaissance town of Zhovkva/Żółkiew. If we will be lucky and the open air old books and antiques market will not be washed away by the rain, we will go there, too. Travel costs (autobus from Budapest to Lwów and back + accommodation in double rooms): 190 euros (+ single room supplement on request: 50 euros). Actual information on the journey’s Facebook event page.
Note: In the Ukraine, hotels are not really prepared for lone travelers, and they rarely offer single rooms. Usually, even for a single person they sell double/twin rooms for almost the same price as for two. It is worth to think about it in advance, and to organize a roommate for you – or else I will also try to organize in this way the rooms for those requesting it.
• Between 4-7 October the HJCA organizes a gorgeous tour to the Serbian Subotica/Szabadka and its environs, especially for a visit of the Jewish monuments (such as the incredibly beautiful synagogue in Subotica, one of the first and most splendid creations of Hungarian Art Nouveau). Along the way, there will be conferences, concerts and a dinner accompanied with local folk music in a traditional Bunjevats (local Croatian) village inn. I do not take part in the organization of this trip, but on the 7th, Sunday I will give a lecture on the Art Nouveau architecture of Subotica, as well as a guided tour in the downtown of the city, considered as a cradle of Hungarian Art Nouveau architecture. The exact route and costs of the program will soon see the light on the Facebook site of the HJCA.
• An Ukrainian shtetl tour combined with a visit to Odessa, 17-23 October (Wednesday-Tuesday). This is the journey that most of our readers and fellow travelers have been demanding in this year. We will reach Odessa by bus in two days, through the breath-takingly beautiful Máramaros mountains of the Eastern Carpathians, spend three days in Odessa, and come back in two more days. In the twice two day long travel we will stop by in a number of historical places, former Jewish shtetls, at the still today vivid Hasidic community of Uman, next to the magnificent medieval castle of Khotin along the Dnester. On the way there we will stay for the night in the city of Chernovits preserving the air of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, while on the back in the city of Kamenets-Podolsk with a traditional Armenian presence (two cathedrals!), in a hotel under the old town’s fantastic rock surrounded by a mountain river, in a hotel still breathing the air of the so-called Brezhnev Baroque. In Odessa itself I have managed to reserve excellent apartments in the very center of the downtown, next to the city park: a perfect starting point for our tours in the city, along the Classical seaside promenade, the Moldavanka, the Jewish and Greek neighborhoods, the Sunday flea market. Travel costs (autobus from Budapest to Odessa and back + accomodation in double rooms): 370 euros (+ extra fee for single rooms for the whole week: 110 euros). Actual information on the journey’s Facebook event page.
• Invitation to Lwów for the autumn of 2012
• Four essays on the second trip to Lwów (also in French)
• A collective report on the second trip to Lwów
• In the secret headquarters of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army
• The shutters of the Monarchy in Lwów
• The ruins of the Monarchy in Lwów
• Tales of Lwów
• Last announcement of the second trip
• Announcement of the Facebook event of the second trip
• Announcement of the second trip to Lwów, to the klezmer festival
• A report on our first journey
• Investigation for Captain Truszkowski
• Exploring the death camp of Janowska (also in Italian and Spanish)
• Announcing the first trip to Lwów (also in Spanish)
• An ever expanding presentation of the restaurants and cafés in Lwów
• A complete table of all the posts on Lemberg/Lwów
Some plans for 2013:
• Hasidic villages in the Tokaj wine region (Northern Hungary). The most ancient wine region of Hungary was long a traditional region of Hasidic wine traders, and several tombs of their great rabbis are still important pilgrimage sites visited by Jews from all over the world. A special feature of this journey is that our Hebrew expert Két Sheng, who knows the Jewish monuments and history of this region like the back of his hand, is willing to fly to Hungary from Copenhagen for this weekend, and to undertake the guide of this tour, while our wine-producing friends in the hills around Tokaj will also offer wine tasting for us. A continuation of this tour, organized together with the Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association, will follow in next July, when we will go through the pearl of traditional settlements along the historical “Jewish wine route” from Tokaj to Poland. The cost of this weekend, again depending on the number of the participants, is ca. 100 euros.
- Galician shtetl tours: the Jewish small towns from Lesko to Brody and the fortress synagogue of Lutsk to the Hasid cemeteries in Bukovina, in four-five days, or even a week, adjusted to the time and interest of the participants.
- Košice/Kassa, the European Capital of Culture in 2012: In the spring we organize jointly with the HJCA a four-day journey to exploring the city and its surroundings through a series of thematic walks: The historical and architectural monuments of Košice, The literary life of Košice, The Jewish Košice…
- The renowned “route of the Jewish wine” from the Hungarian Tokaj to Southern Poland, a continuation of the weekend of this September, jointly organized with the HJCA. The route to the North through the Slovakian Košice, Prešov and Bardejov to Nowy Sącz in Poland – an important center of Polish Hasidism, which gave rabbis to several communities along the road – as well as through a number of small Jewish settlements along the way, will start from Tokaj in June, at the time of the yearly wine festival, and will end with a klezmer concert in the former Hasidic synagogue in Nowy Sącz.
- The Crimea: the great dream which everyone speaks with awe about. To see it well we will need at least a week, but what we would see is worth the time: the Karaite towns and cemeteries of the Crimea, on which we will write soon, the Orthodox and Armenian monasteries, the Khan’s palace in Bakhchisaray…
Posts on our destinations in Río Wang:
A complete list of all our posts on Lemberg/Lwów
The Jewish cultural heritage of Eastern Europe
The unknown Mallorca
• (more post lists on our destinations will follow, check back soon!)