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Okay, we tried it last year and it feel victim to COVID. So, let’s try it again this year.
I picked September/October as that seems pretty safe.

Join me for my birthday on the Nemzeti Vágta weekend.

Here is the Nemzeti Vágta (I will try and get VIP tickets. Last time they cost about $30):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIp6iM7eDjY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24kltnN0U4E

Date is a bit uncertain as of yet. The Nemzeti Vágta generally takes place in mid-September to mid-October. So, for now, let’s use the 2020 date (adjusted to put it back on the weekend) = Saturday, October 10th for the Nemzeti Vágta finals. Starts in the morning and runs till mid afternoon if memory serves me correctly.

I love September and October in Budapest so my guess is I will arrive around the 1st of October and depart around the 17th give or take a few days one side or the other. Somehow I will work at least one other country into the trip. Right now WizzAir has direct flights to Ukraine, Georgia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia: all places where I can get a few days of fly fishing in before the weather gets too cold.

But for the gathering. Something like this:

Friday, October 9th

I thought I would run up to Szentendre if anyone is interested. Late morning train up (maybe 10am), then the boat back (5pm).

Saturday, October 10th

Begin with breakfast at The Lion’s Locker. Great family that owns the place.
https://youtu.be/md0hxk4QAj4

Then walk up Andrassy ut to Hero’s Square for the Nemzeti Vágta. Andrassy ut usually looks like this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHWvj534MFA

But during the Nemzeti Vagta it will look more like this, lined with vendors selling food, crafts, etc
https://www.facebook.com/NemzetiVagta/videos/338528976716823/

And here is sort of a crazy view of what is along Andrassy ut. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwRvxLEJc_w

For me the beginning is the most interesting. Watching the horses parade around the track. Then watch a few races…..

Then maybe a late lunch nearby at Paprika Vendeglo.

http://paprikavendeglo.hu/

Then, after lunch, maybe someone would be interested in the Hungarian Railway Museum. It’s also not too far from Hero’s Square, but we will ride the bus.
http://www.vasuttortenetipark.hu/

And then meet in the evening for drinks
http://kadarkawinebar.com/

Posted by
12120 posts

While that’s sort of the planned out gathering, I will also be in Budapest as soon as the EU and Hungary open up. I am being wishful in thinking maybe Early May ….. If anyone is in the neighborhood, that trip will something like this:

24-day trip +/- with my daughter starting with flying into Istanbul, spend three nights then fly on to Montenegro. Spend three nights in Budva, then two nights in Perast/Kotor and then drive on to Dubrovnik for three nights. Then then drive through Mostar to Sarajevo. Two nights in Sarajevo and then fly to Budapest. Four nights in Budapest, then the train to Vienna for 2 nights, then the train to Prague for 3 nights. From Prague I return to Budapest, she goes home.
The airfare to Istanbul to Titograd and home from Prague is an open jaw Turkish Air ticket which will cost about $1100. The flight from Sarajevo to Budapest is Wizzair for about $100.

The response below that refers to my Ukraine trip, I moved that part to be on its own.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/ukraine-in-the-spring

Posted by
4362 posts

Boy, that should make up for last year’s postponement. We’ve started plans for Italy at the same time, but I hope your trip can go as you envision, and I hope you’re energetic for your Ukraine portion. Happy Birthday, in advance, too!

Posted by
4444 posts

We're also hoping for Italy in the fall, but this looks great. Has horsewoofie seen it?

Posted by
403 posts

I've rebooked my Istanbul/Budapest trip for April 23 this year.
Hoping to be in Budapest on May 03 for 5 nights if all goes well.
I am sorry to miss the fall birthday celebration :-). Seems like it would be quite a party.

Posted by
6236 posts

Join me for my birthday on the Nemzeti Vágta weekend.

To whom are you extending this invitation?

Posted by
12120 posts

Nadine, if you can arrange to be in Budapest on May 1st you wont regret it. Great celebration for May Day.

I'm not sure of my schedule yet. The very day that Hungary opens, I will book the trip with my daughter. Its possible we would be in Budapest about the same time. She and I will spend a few days there, then I take her to Vienna and Prague. When she goes home, I return to Budapest for a few days before going off to Ukraine. After Ukraine back to Budapest for a few weeks. All in all I will be in Budapest 3 to 4 weeks sometime in March or April or May depending on the country opening.

Nancy, i am inviting the right sorts of people, of course. Over the years I have met up with 4 different RS people while in Budapest. Rather enjoyed it. One in particular.... :-)

Posted by
1100 posts

James,

Sounds like a great trip you have planned. Would you mind expanding on why you like the September to October time frame?

Thanks.

Posted by
12120 posts

I don't think there is a month in the year that I haven't been in Budapest ........ maybe August? Dont remember. But I think maybe 10 out of the last 20 years I have been in Budapest in September or October. Close runner up is April / May ............ Followed by November/December for the holidays.

In September / October

The weather can be near perfect. Sometimes cool, but rarely cold.

Fewer tourists as compared to June, July, August

The theaters are open (they close in the summer). The only theaters open in the summer are tourist theaters.

As the city has been trying to stretch the tourist season, there is usually one or two good events going on.

Restaurants, hotel rooms, venues of all sorts are more comfortable (Europe isn't exactly known for its air conditioning and Hungary is no exception)

Air fare and hotel rooms tend to be a bit cheaper in the shoulder season.

And I just put some links to Andrassy ut in the main body of the post

Posted by
884 posts

Should things be possible, my dates right now look like Oct. 12 arriving, leaving on the 17th. I have flights with miles, purchased today, which can be cancelled and re-instated.

Posted by
12120 posts

Isnt it exciting to be booking flights!!! I get the impression that there are a few here traveling to Budapest about the same time. Lets see how it shakes out. Where else are you going?

Posted by
12120 posts

Come on man .... the Lipa Hotel is a nice little hotel in an interesting corner of Hungary.

hanni.kiss01 remove you post as its against the rules, and replace it with something about the area where the hotel is that might be of interest to tourists.

Like the Szentgotthard Abbey or the Rába River or the vineyards in the region. Its only about 1.5 hours from Balaton which makes it a great day trip if you are staying at Balaton. Just a mention that its a great back door into Slovenia or Austria or Croatia is interesting for people more interested in rural tourism.

Thanks.

Posted by
12120 posts

Well I made the mistake of believing the US was doing everything wrong and the EU had it right Guess everyone had that one upside down. The vaccine rollout in Europe has been less than spectacular and their lockdowns have been brutal on future hopes, dreams and lives.

The Hungarian Prime Minister is a different sort of fellow. He did an end run around the EU and got his people vaccines and is a world ahead of the EU in general. But he's also a curious sort of nationalist and when he might open the border is harder to guess than a Wack-a-Mole. So we sit and watch and wait. Might be Summer if the vaccine gets to enough people or the economy is tanking too much .... but might be Christmas. No way to know.

Posted by
18088 posts

For the week ending yesterday Hungary's infection rate per capita was about 4.4 times that of the US. Hungary will set a new record today (not yet reflected on the graph on the Worldometers website) by a large margin, so it appears the vaccination program still has a way to go before things are under control. However, it's difficult to draw conclusions about what today's over-10,000 figure means, because Hungary's daily infection counts have been highly variable recently.

The US vaccination rate is a lot higher than Hungary's, but even we are struggling to get off the plateau. The variants seem to be a challenge.

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/hungary/

Posted by
12120 posts

What is the actual, here today, affecting things now challenge of the variants, other than possibly increased transmissability?

Either way, it is what it is. And time will tell.

Posted by
884 posts

Well, in a slightly optimistic world, I would be arriving in Budapest 10/10 and leaving 10/15. And since right now, none of it is possible, no dates are set in stone. :) Which means it’s not impossible in October.

At some point I will have to make a firm decision - but that isn’t today. :)

Posted by
18088 posts

I think it's quite clear that, at least for the UK variant, it's not "possibly" increased transmissibility. I believe all doubt has evaporated by this point, though I don't think there has been time for the publication of peer-reviewed studies. The figures I've seen over the last week or so suggest transmissibility at least 50% higher than for the earlier strains--enough to make a very big difference. (Thus the noticeably deteriorating situations in France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Czechia and probably other countries). In addition, the medical folks in the UK seem to believe that variant is also leading to more serious illness.

There's now a variant in the US that tends not to defeat nasal-swab tests. One can only hope that one isn't particularly contagious or serious.

Posted by
12120 posts

Acraven, all I could find on the CDC and WHO websites was "potentially" and "possibly" this and that. But sounds reasonable.

Travelmom!!! My birthday!

Posted by
18088 posts

Here you go: Comments from CDC Director Walensky:

https://bgr.com/2021/03/17/coronavirus-update-cdc-director-comments-uk-covid-19-variant/

Really, why do you think the public-health people have been talking about that variant for months? It's because from early on, it appeared to be more transmissible, and then more young, healthy people started getting sick in the UK. It takes time to nail things down to an acceptable level of scientific certainty, but I think we're about at that point now.

Posted by
12120 posts

Acraven, I understand you are trying to be helpful, and I appreciate that. T

The author only provided a few quotes at the end to support the author’s title and point of view. I presume the quotes are in context but who knows these days. Those quotes are:

*“Please follow our recommended public health prevention precautions, and be ready to get your vaccine when it is available to you,”

“We are just starting to turn the corner. The data are moving in the right direction, but where this goes is dependent on whether we all do what must be done to protect ourselves and others.”

“We are really trying to restrain travel at this current period of time,”

“And we’re hopeful that our next set of guidance will have more science around what vaccinated people can do, perhaps travel being among them.”*

Both the CDC and the WHO have pages devoted to the variants. By reading those you can avoid editorializing and secondhand interpretation.

Posted by
18088 posts

Unfortunately, there seems to be a lag between the time data is solidified enough to generate comments from public-health authorities in the UK (and eventually in the US) and when it makes its way into a document--or at least a document I can find--on the CDC website. I prefer to have access to such cautionary information earlier rather than later, because it affects my approach to trip planning.

This CDC document from February 12 doesn't attempt to quantify how much more contagious or dangerous the UK variant may be, just stating: "This variant spreads more easily and quickly than other variants. In January 2021, experts in the UK reported that this variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared to other variant viruses, but more studies are needed to confirm this finding."

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/transmission/variant.html

That's really not very different from what most of the experts seemed to suspect at least two months ago, but the UK has a lot more information now. I figure listening to the concerns of the public-health folks makes it less likely I'll be blind-sided by sudden surges in countries I might hope to travel to later this year.

Posted by
12120 posts

acraven, a very legitimate point of view. Still, early on it became apparent that there were "experts" on all sides of the arguments. Vaccine, no vaccine; mask, no mask; 3 feet, 6 feet, no feet. I just gave up trying to be the expert that could determine which "expert" was the correct expert and which wasn't.

Its like that article you posted. That was an opinion piece presented as the factual opinion of the CDC director. The word of the CDC director were minimal and who knows the context.

So, I've decided that "My Truth" for now at least will be the CDC and the WHO. And that's not perfect either. The WHO doesn't say 6 feet, they say 39". The WHO suggests a mask when the 39" can not be maintained or inside when the ventilation is in question (most inside from my point of view). When the world was locking down, the WHO said not to. Where the two conflict I turn to the CDC cause its what's expected here; but not necessarily because I believe it. It makes people feel better and that's a good thing.

Oh, and the CDC and WHO do have different missions and that may explain the differences to some degree. The CDC is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (why isn't it CDCP?) And it presumably does a pretty good job at dealing with disease. The WHO is the World Health Organization and if there is anything in a name, the WHO has the more wholistic mission of Human Health.

Posted by
2076 posts

The WHO doesn't say 6 feet, they say 39".

That's a meter. 6' is 2 meters.

Schools are going with 1 meter. Many other things too.

Anything outdoors is safe, generally. Surface transmission almost never happens. The main threat is 1) indoor transmission in 2) enclosed and tight spaces with 3) air circulation to move viri about.

Posted by
24827 posts

Surface transmission almost never happens.

what is your reference for that statement please, PaulOTFN?

Posted by
12120 posts

6 feet is 1.829 meter
2 meters is 6.562 feet

I believe schools are going with 3 feet or 0.915 meters.

Posted by
2015 posts

Nigel,
In the Washington Post, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony S. Fauci was quoted by one of his senior advisors, saying that the virus is rarely transmitted through contact with tainted surfaces and that it’s safe to stop taking such extreme measures as quarantining your mail and wiping down your groceries.
This article was from 22 October, 2020.

Posted by
14225 posts

Israel got hit with the UK variant and it quickly became the dominant strain. Numbers went up alarmingly just as the vaccinations began (late Dec.) and a strict lockdown was imposed. As more and more people were shot and numbers abated (esp. hospitalizations and deaths), some measures have been eased.

Now, more than half the population has been double shot. Most kids are back in school (well, not this week because it's the Passover holiday), restaurants and bars have reopened, indoor service for the vac'd, outdoor with spacing for all, bars are reopening too. There are still limits on gatherings and distancing and masking are still mandatory.

It would seem, therefore, that the vaccines (mostly Pfizer, some Moderna) are effective against the UK variant. While other variants have been identified (Brazil, South Africa, California, New York and others), none seems to be spreading . . . so far.

James, when Hungary opens up, I'm ready to meet for drinks at Kadarka 🤞.

Posted by
12120 posts

Chani et al. From an Hungary Today English language new service:

ORBÁN’S SITE: 2 M HUNGARIANS VACCINATED
The number of people vaccinated in Hungary has reached two million, according to a message posted on Prime
Minister Viktor Orbán’s Facebook page on Tuesday afternoon. “Two million vaccinated. Another step forward,” a
short animated message said.

With a population of less than 10M that's not bad in comparison to the world in general. Orban also has made it a point to say its time to rebuild business. And he goes on to say the deaths have been primarily older (its a country with pretty old demographics) and those with co-morbidity; and the hospitals appear to be near capacity. So its not all roses.

Facts, figures, economy, attitude, etc. all added up Fall might happen. If not, hopefully Christmas. It will be when it will be and I will be on my way "home".

There is one issue of concern. There are about 15,000 hotel rooms and 10,000 short term rentals in Budapest. As you know I own a couple of the short term rentals and unlike many I have decided to hang on to them. Income has been Zero for a year now. Many have gone up for sale, but surprisingly at near 90% their pre pandemic value. Many of those have been converted to long term, but Hungary has a declining population so by renting what was a short term rental before turning long term only results in the previous long term location becoming available for sale and conversion to short term. Might just take a year or two for all the properties to switch hands and be put back into service. Then, there were a number of marginal hotels in town. How many will survive? How many will be closed and tied up in legal issues for years? Lodging prices could go up in the interim and choices might not be as attractive. Sort of what I am banking on by keeping mine.

Final issue on my mind. Tourism brought Budapest back from the filthy dark place I discovered 20 years ago. How much will decline until things return to normal? I am certain the changing demographics in the apartment market will not help either.