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Starting to plan a trip

Madison, WI
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65 posts
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Starting to plan a trip

My grandparents emigrated from Hungary in the early 1900's and I have always wanted to visit. I am planning on a trip next year, either spring or fall.

I am a photographer, writer and generally interested in anything that doesn't have golden arches or a colonel on the sign. I speak none of the language.

Wondering about how I even begin to plan an a trip that allows for both flexible scheduling when I want to stay in a place longer and if I should plan on renting a car....

Thinking trip will be 2-3 weeks and I will carry all I take in a backpack and one bag...I go light...

Thanks for any information and ideas....especially the baths and other historic "must see" places....

Nick

Connecticut
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382 posts
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1. Re: Starting to plan a trip

Get thee to your local library and check out their guidebooks and travel videos. Lounge around your local Borders or Barnes and Noble. Pretty soon one of those guidebooks will speak to you. Buy it. Meanwhile, stop here regularly. Read posts. Go to the column on the left and explore. Start a file. Print out some of the stuff you find on the internet.

Ask questions here.

As you get closer to your trip, consolidate and organize your information. Put tabs in your guidebook. Write notes in the margines. Insert post-it notes with valuable information. Have a great trip.

Incidently, the golden arches aren't all bad. Bathrooms are generally free and a collection of menu boards (in photos) in different languages are a fun souvenir.

Barbara

Denver, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Pecs, Budapest
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2. Re: Starting to plan a trip

Nick,

I am sure that you'll want to spend a fair amount of your time in Budapest. If you ask about what you 'must' see or do in Budapest on this forum, you'll get a pile of suggestions which you can then research and cull for yourself.

It might be a good idea to read a bit about the history of Hungary. (I can recommend a couple of books you should be able to find in the library.)

Do you know where your grandparents came from? Might be good to see about visiting that area?

I would certainly book at least a week's accommodation in Budapest in advance. In Budapest, English isn't really a big problem, I've found. Once out of Budapest, it can get a bit dicey.

On renting a car? I don't drive, so can't really advise you there.

While the rail network in Hungary is a bit spotty, and trains are slower than in most of the rest of Europe, you might consider a Hungary Rail Pass @$160 for any 10 days in one month. (And if you're under 26, only $108.)

One city I would definitely visit outside of Budapest is Pecs. That will definitely warrant an overnight stay, and probably (I think) two.

I've not yet been to Sopron near the border with Austria, but am planning on doing so this November. From everything I've found out about it, is very different from the rest of Hungary, and very interesting.

It is possible to take a round-trip rail journey from Budapest around a great deal of the eastern part of Hungary in one day. Just doing that - backed up with what you find on the towns' web-sites, might help you to identify places you wanted to spend more time in. It would also give you some 'sense' of the country.

I would certainly take a trip of some sort along at least part of Lake Balaton. I would also get up to the Danube Bend. You can also make a day-trip to Szeged. Eger is more difficult in one day.

Does that help at all?

Madison, WI
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65 posts
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3. Re: Starting to plan a trip

Thanks for the information. I have been reading about Hungary, especially the history and why things and places exist and have historical value. The library has been a great resource along with this site.

And I agree about the golden arches. Even in remote China I found both those and KFC with western style restrooms (bring your own paper)!

I'd love recommendations on specific books to read, travel guides or historical. I find the Lonely Planet guides a valuable resource.

Thanks to all...

Nick

Larnaka City, Cyprus
Destination Expert
for Larnaka District, Larnaka City
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4. Re: Starting to plan a trip

Nick,

I will just share our experiences. I find Lonely Planet guidebooks as a valuable and reliable source of information-although I wasn't very thrilled on the Hungary guide due to the fact that it presented almost all the areas of the country as a "must-see". We've rented a car which gave us much flexibility and freedom of movement and I would recommend it if you plan to visit villages and areas that are not "touristy". The places we've liked the most are Koszeg(on the western part of the country)-a charming little town and Eger which is, at my opinion, by far the most beautiful town in Hungary, about 80km away from Budapest. You cannot miss Budapest, of course, since the capital of a country usually shows its cultural wealth. We didn't enjoy the Balaton area (at least the northern part of the lake that we have visited) for 2 reasons-first it was overcrowded and second because we have seen much nicer lakes in Austria. We stayed for a week in Budapest and used it as our base for several daytrips and 4 days in Sopron (which should of looked very nice half a century ago). If you plan to visit the north west part of the country however, try to visit Rust, which is again a very pretty town in Austria-very close to Sopron-famous for its wines and storks!

Denver, Colorado
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for Pecs, Budapest
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5. Re: Starting to plan a trip

Nick,

My apologies for not having been back.

Here are two books that may be worth reading as a start.

A Concise History of Hungary (Cambridge Concise Histories) by Miklós Molnár and Anna Magyar (Paperback - April 30, 2001)

The other one is

Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends by Lonnie R. Johnson (Paperback - Aug 16, 2001)

Both appear to be available from Amazon, in case you can't find them in the library.

The first has a good account of what actually went on, but a distict bias. (Far less than most, however.)

The second (if you can by the fact that the text wasn't even sent through a spell-checker, much less a proof reader!) I found very helpful in getting a better understanding of the tensions in this region, and why.

Others here may very well have other books they would recommend. If so, I'd like to hear about them also.

Liz

Budapest, Hungary
Destination Expert
for Budapest, Hungary
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6. Re: Starting to plan a trip

First question, do you know exactly where in Hungary your Grandparents emigrated from ? bear in mind it may no longer be in Hungary, which lost > 30% of it's territory to Romania at the Conference of Versailles post WWI.

Bukkszek, Hungary
Destination Expert
for Eger
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1,114 posts
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7. Re: Starting to plan a trip

Personally, I don't like Budapest as it can be very much like any other European capital, although if travelling to Hungary for the 1st time it must be on your list of places to visit then you can make your own mind up.The vast majority of Hungary is still mad up up of small towns and villages so what you want to see and where you want to go depends largely upon whether you want to see the "real" Hungary or just do the "touristy" thing. As yet I personally don't have a great deal of experience of most of Hungary but can highly recommend Eger and the surrounding areas. If you are interested in this area drop me an e-mail or private message and I'll let you have my mobile number for when you get over here and will help in any way I can.

Regards,

Paul.

Budapest
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8. Re: Starting to plan a trip

My favorite guide book is Andras Torok's Critical Guide. parkkiado.hu/konyv.php…

You can read some pages on the publisher's website

http://parkkiado.hu/docs/50_005.pdf

http://parkkiado.hu/docs/49_054-55.pdf

http://parkkiado.hu/docs/48_138-147.pdf

If you like it, you will probably find some used copies on Amazon.

9. Re: Starting to plan a trip

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