In Eastern European folk tradition, February 2nd is the day, when the bear comes out of the cave, and he stays out or goes back depending on whether he feels the end of the winter or not. Now he came out and he did not go back, so spring is surely coming. We also come out then with the list of the trips planned for the next months, which has been asked of us so much over the last few weeks.
I urge everyone who is interested in one or another trip, to write until February 15 with no obligation (but a serious intent) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Subsequently, we will publish on the basis of the applications the detailed program and price as well as the deadline of registering and payment.
• I would have liked to start the series of our exotic tours with a really exotic one, to go at the occasion of the Lunar New Year on a few-hour city tour to Asia in Budapest’s Kőbánya district, to visit the city’s best Chinese restaurant, the Chinese market, to hold a tasting and vegetable show in the famous Vietnamese eating-house, to walk down the mysterious labyrinth of the huge block of the former Ganz railway factory, converted into an international store ensemble, and finally visit the cradle of an absolutely modern Chinatown – by showing during the walk everything I know about this world as a native of Kőbánya on the one hand, and as a Chinese interpreter on the other hand. Unfortunately, due to an unexpectedly sprained ankle, I cannot walk so much on this weekend, at the Lunar New Year, but soon I will organize this trip by all means.
• The first tour, which already has a sure date, will be on March 15-16 (Friday and Saturday) to Szabadka/Subotica, which in we have thoroughly explored last October (see our posts here). The apropos of the trip is that, according to recent news, the downtown of Subotica, the cradle of Hungarian Art Nouveau is threatened by an incredible destruction: the city management plans to demolish more than a thousand buildings in the city center. Maybe that’s the last time to see this gem of the architecture of the turn of the century. We will walk about the Art Nouveau city center, will get acquainted door to door with the society and architecture of a booming city in the early 20th century, will enter the most beautiful synagogue and city hall of old Hungary, will visit the exhibition on Art Nouveau in Subotica (still open until May), then go out to the pre-war holiday district, the Palić lake, the last remnant of the geohistorical Pannon Sea. Planned costs (bus from/to Budapest + accommodation in double room): ca. 50-70 euro.
• Hasidic villages in the Tokaj wine region (Northern Hungary), March 23-24 (Saturday and Sunday). The most ancient wine region of Hungary was long a traditional region of Hasidic wine traders, and several tombs of their great tsaddiks 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. Planned costs: ca. 80-100 euro.
• The journey Czernowitz-Kamenets-Podolsk-Odessa we made last October – about which see here our joint report – will be repeated on the long weekend of April 25 to May 1st (Thursday to Wednesday). The outline of the program can be read here. We will reach Odessa in two days through the breathtakingly beautiful Maramureș mountains of the Eastern Carpathians, and the hills of Bucovina, and after three days spent at the Black Sea we come home in two more days. During the twice two day long travel we will stop in a number of historical places. the Hasidic pilgrimage sites of the tomb of Baal Shem Tov, founder of Hasidism in Medzhibozh and at that of Rabbi Nachman of Breslav in Uman, and at the magnificent medieval castle of Khotin along the Dnester. On the way there we will stay for the night in the city of Czernowitz still preserving the air of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, while on the way back in the city of Kamenets-Podolsk with a traditional Armenian presence, in a hotel under the old town’s fantastic central rock surrounded by a mountain river. In Odessa we walk about the city, the Neoclassicist seaside promenade, the 19th-century trading city, the Moldavanka, the Jewish and Greek neighborhoods, the Sunday flea market. Planned costs: ca. 400-430 euro.
• Eastern Easter in Lemberg/Lwów, May 3-6 (Friday to Monday). One of the most beautiful weekends, a veritable festival in the multi-ethnic, multi-confessional city, when the Greek Catholic, Armenian Catholic and Orthodox Easter coincide with each other. I will indicate the date of the most beautiful Easter celebrations of the various confessions, at which the participation is of course optional, just like at the peak of the feast, the Resurrection Mass at Saturday night. In Saturday and Sunday we will walk about the old city of Lemberg, the Armenian and Jewish quarter, the Art Nouvea neighborhoods and the surviving monuments of the Jewish suburb, and will also visit the open air museum of Rusyn wooden churches. On the way to Lemberg we will visit the little town of Drohobycz, birthplace of Bruno Schulz, and on the way back we will stop to look around above the Carpathians on the Pass of Verecke. Planned costs: ca. 200-230 euro.
• Maramureș and Bucovina, through two countries, May 24-29 (Friday to Wednesday). Today two countries, but in fact a lot more, since these two regions, today both cut in half, belonged to at least six different countries, with dozens of ethnic groups, religions, traditional settlements and monuments in the valleys of the Carpathians: an isolated, independent, archaic world. Traveling through the northern, today Ukrainian part of Maramureș, in two days we arrive to Czernowitz, where we pass two days to visit this easternmost city of the former Monarchy, and go about the historical sites of Bucovina, the medieval fortress system along the Dniester, the traditional villages, the medieval city of Kamenets-Podolsk. Crossing the Ukrainian-Romanian border, we descend to the southern part of Bucovina, to visit the most beautiful Orthodox monasteries, and come back to Hungary through the mountains of the Romanian Maramureș. On the way there and back we stop at several places, in the little historical towns of Khust, Yaremche, Kolomea, Sighetul Marmației, Baia Mare, at Hungarian historical monuments, Ukrainian and Romanian wooden churches, Jewish cemeteries, walk up to the source of the Tisza river. Planned costs: ca. 400 euro
• Shtetl tour in Galicia, June 21-27 or August 16-22 (both Friday to Thursday: if you want to participate at it, write us which one would be the better date, especially if you also participate on an earlier tour and another long trip would be too close immediately after that). A discovery of the disappeared, archaic world of the former Galician Jewish little towns. Through the Slovakian Prešov, Bardejov and the Dukla Pass we reach the western, Polish part of the former Galicia, where we visit the fortress synagogue and cemetery of Lesko in the Beskady, Poland’s most romantic mountain region, then after a visit to Premyśl, an important fortress in WWI, we cross the Ukrainian border. In Eastern Galicia we follow the path of the Jewish towns: Sambir, Brody, Tarnopol, Buchach, Bolechov, Stryj… We will see surviving Jewish quarters, synagogues magnificent even in ruins, intact cemeteries, and through the stories accompanying them the one-time liveliness of this world will emerge. In Halicz we will go to the street of the still existing Turkish-Polish-Yiddish-language Karaite community and also their cemetery with a special air high above the rocky bank of the Dniester. And wherever possible, we will also meet the surviving Jewish community. If many of the participants have not yet been to Lemberg, then we will also spend a half day in the city’s Jewish neighborhood. Planned costs: ca. 400 euro.
• The renowned “route of the Jewish wine” from Tokaj to Poland, July 18-23. The Hasidic wine merchant settlements, which we will visit in March, traditionally delivered the wine of Tokaj along the Košice-Bardejov-Nowy Sąncz route to the largest importer, Poland, establishing a pearl of Hasidic settlements along the road, whose rabbis gradually arrived from the opposite direction, the greatest Southern Polish Hasidic center, Nowy Sąncz. By visiting the largely intact Jewish centers and the historical cities on the way, we arrive back through Krakow and Banská Bystrica. Planned costs: ca. 400 euro.
• Klezmer Festival in Lemberg, early August. On the international klezmer festival, organized for years, there feature mainly Eastern European, Ukrainian, Russian, Moldavian traditional klezmer groups. On the festival of last year you can see good photos in the joint report of our tour to Lwów. During the weekend festival we also walk about the city with everyone who comes for the first time to Lemberg. The date is only approximate, because the organizers usually publish it in the springtime, but it will be certainly in the first days of August as usual. Planned costs: ca. 200-230 euro.
These are, then, the trips planned until early August. After two weeks, when the first applications will have arrived, we will include them with final data on the meanwhile reorganized “Come with us!” page. But we are already thinking on the next ones: the surviving medieval Jewish quarters in Moravia and South Bohemia from Trebitsch to Nikolsburg, a visit to the Gábor Gypsies in the Romanian Mureș as the guests of our anthropologist friend working among them since twenty years, a fortress church tour in the Transylvanian Saxon Land (while they still stand…), weekend trips to Oradea, recently admitted into the club of European Art Nouveau cities, or to the mining towns of Slovakia, city tours in the lesser-known parts of Budapest… And the big dream, if there will be enough applicants: the already much-talked ten-day or two-weeks autumn tour to the Crimea, the port and resort towns, in the mountains, to the Khan’s palace in Bakhchisaray, the Orthodox and Armenian monasteries, the Tatar and Karaite villages…
Any further suggestions and amendments are welcome. Join us in planning the trips together. And of course, come with us.