Hungary - a target of long weekends
Hungary was in our country popular holiday target 25 years ago, especially for them who did not preferred to stay at sea-side. Travelling to this country was relatively easy, change for local currency (forints) was not limited and total costs were not too different from those of Máchovo Lake in Czechoslovakia. The only iten was higher - petrol consumption - but it was not too tragical, Hungary is not far. Holiday at Balaton lake was advantageous for families with small children. The bathing and swimming is very safe here, as it takes a while when you reach from beach to some depth. In general, Hungary acted for tourists safely and quietly. Moreover, in periods of limited shopping possibilities at home, you could buy in Budapest always something, which was not available in Czechoslovakia, and at reasonable prices. In general, Hungary was very popular tourist destination.
Since 1990, the requirements for holiday-spending changed a lot and increased. Now, it is not sufficient for us to spend our holidays in Italy, Spain, Greece, etc. Number of visitors in exotic countries is increasing, and even Mallorca Islands cannot compete with nearly unlimited South-Asian offers. Frankly speaking, Hungarians lost their reputation ten years ago, as they stipulated very high price-levels of many goods, supposing, that crowds of Austrians and Germans come, in order to buy everything what was to be offered. And, moreover, the reality, that Hungary is not too, distant, lost its attractivity for us.
Anyway, times are changing, and forms and limits of tourist traffic are changing , too. Except of long term stays during summer holiday, there is a possibility of short-term long weekends, four- or five-days excursions to near localities are discovered again. For us is very attractive Austria, of course, especially the skiers in winter-season.
Nevertheless, we do not forget our view on Hungary-map. As far as local the price level is concerrned, they became more wise, and the situation for us is more favourable at present. At actual exchange rate the calculation is better to be made - 100 forints make 10 crowns approximately - so nearly anything is more ex pensive as in Czech Republic. So, for our short-term visits, Hungary has several advantages and one disadvantage, as follows.
As to advantages:
The country is situated quite near to Czech Republic. Transport on highway, with your own car, is quick and comfortable. Further, Hungary offers to us the environment, which with its Central European character is not beyond compared to the fact we are used to. It means that no acclimatization process is necessary to be undergone. As to meals: we can choose between typical Hungarian kitchen and way of our kitchen. Your stay is not necessary to be reserved in complicated way as in each small town we meet some simple private lounge, where there will be free places for us available, remenber word „panzio“, similar to Czech equivalent. As to hotel: its international expression „hotel“, of course, but Hungarian it is „száloda“. Accommodation rate: we receive it, in boarding house (pension) for CZK 500-700,- including breakfast, in private at less CZK 500,-, in hotel round CZK 1000,- /person. And, first of all: provided we are bathing - and swimming lovers, we find everywhere in Hungary some locations with warm springs. This country is really paradise for water-lovers, and at any season period. You can have a swim several hundreds of kilometeres of your home in open space, since March to November.
Language infamiliarity. Maybe, you could understand some expressions from menu or various inscriptions, but is is not sufficient. You need some small pocket vocabulary (Němcovo Maďarsko, issued at Computer Press Brno). Here, you find a survey of basic words and phrases. The driver has to know (despite he has GPS navigation in his car) that „the expression „to the right“ is „jobra“ and „to the left“ means „balra“ „yes“ means „igen“, „ferfi“ means „WC for men“, etc. You cannot rely on your knowledge of English (with the exception of big hotels and tourist offices). You will have more luck to come to an understanding with somebody in bigger towns and in communication with younger generation. On the other hand, you will be more successfull in communication with your knowledge of German language (with members of older generation) and in holiday resorts around Balaton Lake, in local restaurants or caffees. In general, you cannot rely on knowledge of foreign languages in case of local Hungarian people. Anyway, since your first visit you remember that „lunch“ is „ebed“ and „dinner“ means „vacsora“ in Hungarian. You find very soon that many words are similar to Czech or Slovak languages. Naturally, it is not sufficient, but this gives Hungary a special magic. You feel here, round the corner, as if you were really in foreign country, as if you overcame an ocean. This is a feeling you cannot have in Austria. Small advice: if you learn a couple of basic Hungarian words (such as „koszonem sepen“ means „thanks very much“ or „kerem“ means „please“, „jo napot kivanok“ means „good morning“, etc.), so every right Hungarian will be persuaded that you speak his language quite fluently and you cannot plead nor English or German, but Czech, probably, yes.
Travel agencies arrange short-term excursions to Hungary, some targets are very specialised. We can recommend you a trip when you intend to visit some certain place as, for example, Budapest. In that case, this is more comfortable to travel with the agency as all services will be secured and guaranteed. Moreover, you will not have troubles with parking of your car. However, the time when you could park your car without trouble, are over. Nevertheless, with travel agency you do not enjoy your trip in a full way. You become a tourist, all your services will be secured, you see all sightseeings from bus-window and pass all monuments, you will receive your meals and refreshment in reserved restaurants, etc.
However, you miss your not obligatory „liberty movement, seeking and erring“, your own experience of direct contact.
When this excursion will be effected by yourselves, with your own car, you can decide on spot, which direction you go, if you prefere the town of Sopron or Szekesfehervar, whether you turn from Balaton in direction to spa of Heviz (famous spa with hot water springs) or you decide to go somewhere else. It is true that during your travelling throughout Hungary you cannot visit all places of interest what travel agency involves in its itinerary and projectsbut, on the other hand, you enjoy more liberty and adventure. And you cannot loose your way. So, it depends on you what you prefer. It is not our intention to substitute guide-books, but we wish to pay our attention to some interesting places in Hungary, which are worth to visit in our next articles.
So, next article will be dedicated to Budapest, capital of Hungary.
Text: Jan Chaloupka
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