Notes on other programs
Remember, it is July. By all account bring your swimming suit. There is an open-air swimming pool at 5 minutes walk from our venue. Above that any of the outdoor programs might be combined with a casual plunge into the Danube. Yes, it is living water, pleasant and clean above Budapest, and there are beaches scattered along the bank.
Mid-congress excursions (July 11th)
A) Börzsöny Mountains excursion. We reach “Magas Tax” parking lot (c. 700 m a.s.l.) by bus, from which the highest peak in Börzsöny, Csóványos (939) is a good climb. From there we descend to Diósjenő (308 m), crossing during the walk a variety of different habitats (rock grasslands, meadows, pristine forests). On the tour we will be accompanied by an expert ranger, who will provide details about the flora and fauna of the area. We will also stop at viewpoints with nice panoramas, and there will be plenty opportunity to observe spiders. We work on getting group permits for collecting specimens, but cannot make a definite promise until we got that. The tour takes c. 10 km, covers 600 m elevation difference, but that is mostly descent. The tour ends at Diósjenő Forest Recreational Park, where the other groups join us and we will be all treated to a Hungarian “gulyás” cooked on open fire and to some nice local wine. Buses take us back to Vác in the evening.
B) Szentendre Island tour. We reach Szentendre Island in the Danube by a ferry cross directly from Vác. Taking the larger leaps by bus, in the morning we reach the Northern tip of the island. There we visit riverbank and flood forest habitats, and will have an opportunity to either have a short swim or just walk to the knee in the river. Later we reach the Southern part of the island with sand dunes and their typical grassland vegetation, much like large areas on the Great Hungarian Plain. You will be accompanied by Csaba Szinetár who will most certainly point out every possible spider habitat. We work on getting group permits for collecting specimens, but cannot make a definite promise until we got that. Reaching the other bank of the Danube we stop over at the small town of Szentendre, a real tourist attraction for a short stroll in the centre and if one feels like sit in a café. Late afternoon the bus will take us Diósjenő Forest Recreational Park, where we joint the other groups to spend the evening and to treated to a Hungarian “gulyás” cooked on open fire and to some nice local wine. Buses take us back to Vác in the evening.
C) Visegrád historic sites. From Vác a bus will take the group to Nagymaros, from where we take a ferry to cross the Danube to Visegrád on the opposite side. Visegrád was a medieval residence town for Hungarian kings (http://www.visegrad.hu/muemlekek-muzeumok-1 ), King Mathias being the most famous. First we visit Mathias’ renaissance Royal Palace and the Salamon Tower. Then by a short, but rather steep walk (covers 200 m altitude difference) we reach the Citadel, which is a museum, but also gives a breathtaking view of the Danube Bend. Both at the Palace and in the Citadel we will have guided visits. On the way back we take a longer route through the forest to reach the ferry again. After taking the ferry back to Nagymaros the bus will take us to Diósjenő Forest Recreational Park, where we joint the other groups to spend the evening and to treated to a Hungarian “gulyás” cooked on open fire and to some nice local wine. Buses take us back to Vác in the evening. Please note that MUSEUM ENTRANCE FEES ARE NOT COVERED in this tour.
Accompanying persons: program and registration
Accompanying persons, who paid registration fee, are welcome to participate at all social events inclusive for scientific participants, including the welcome party, mid-congress excursion with BBQ and the Russian party. Three day trips are organised by bus; details are below. The fee includes transportation, but does not include lunches and admission fees at those excursions.
Excursion around Királyrét in the Börzsöny Mountains (https://www.summitpost.org/b-rzs-ny-mountains/347065 ). We reach Kismaros by bus, from there a narrow gauge railway takes us to Királyrét. Here we give a visit to the Duna-Ipoly National Park exhibition and go for a couple of km long walking tour in the nearby forests, possibly with a detour into an iron mine. On return the bus will await us at Királyrét, and will take us to the lunch place. After a short walk in a flood forest on the bank of the Danube we will have an early return to Vác, as there will be a joint sightseeing program for every participant early evening.
In the morning we visit the National Botanical Gardens at Vácrátót, a 180-year-old romantic landscape-designed garden, also a national monument and nature conservation area, with the richest scientific plant collection of Hungary https://www.gardenvisit.com/gardens/vacratot_botanical_garden . After lunch we go on to the town of Gödöllő, where we visit the baroque Royal Palace of Gödöllő (http://www.kiralyikastely.hu/main_page ), also known as Grassalkovich Palace for its builder. The palace is one of the most important, largest monuments of Hungarian palace architecture, situated in a huge park, and once the favourite residence of Queen Elizabeth (Sisi), the wife of Kaiser Franz Joseph.
Accompanying persons may join the mid-congress tour A, B or C of their choice or just relax in Vác.
A day tour to Esztergom (http://visitbudapest.travel/activities/budapest-vicinity/esztergom/ ) with a bus ride that takes in part through Slovakia. Esztergom is an ancient town on the Danube, once the seat for Hungarian Kings, today the Primate of Hungary, the Archbishop of Esztergom resides in the town. The Esztergom Basilica is the largest church in the country, which was rebuilt in the 19th century in Classical style. Esztergom has a lively old town and several museums with nice collections.
A day off to relax or to further explore Vác and its surroundings or to give a quick visit to Budapest.
Tour A – Nature in Budapest in one day
Saturday, July 14th
A bus tour, which makes it possible to take all your luggage with you and leave all unneeded things on the bus during the whole program. After a relatively early start from Vác we plant to arrive by 9:30 to the first destination Sas-hegy (“Eagle Hill”) (http://www.worldeventlistings.com/en/budapest/events/the-sas-hegy-site-budapest-walk-e-654858 ). For Hungarian arachnologists Sas-hegy is a sanctuary, the type locality of 6 spider species described by János Balogh in his doctoral thesis in the 1930’s. Sas-hegy is a rather small dolomitic outcrop, by now completely surrounded by living quarters of Budapest, yet, due to the huge variety of habitats and microhabitats it offers it is real diversity hot-spot. It is a strictly protected area, no collecting will be possible. We briefly gather in the visitor centre and then have a pleasant walk with a local guide and Csaba Szinetár who studied the hill for many years. During this the splendid views of Budapest from the hilltop will not be missed either. After this we will be dropped at a restaurant for a lunch. Expecting a a rather hot early afternoon, the program continues in the coolness of the Pálvölgyi Cave https://welovebudapest.com/en/venue/pal-volgyi-cave-2/ , which is the most beautiful and the longest dripstone cave in the Buda Hills with its 29 km length. The tour will lead only to the paved parts of the cave, where quite a couple of stair steps are to be expected, for which the magnificent stalactite and stalagmite formations will compensate. The tour ends at c. 4 p.m. and the bus will head to a central stopping place in Budapest and then, if requested, to the Liszt Ferenc International Airport (17:30 earliest), finally those who need to return will be given a ride back to Vác.
The advertised price of 75 EUR includes transport, lunch at a restaurant in Budapest, snacks and coffee at Sas-hegy visitor centre, entry fees and guidance at the two sites. We start the tour at a minimum of 10 people signing up, the maximum number of places is 35 persons. Deadline for registration is 10th June.
Tour B – North Hungary select, Saturday – Monday
Saturday, July 14th
Saturday morning we start by bus from Vác and reach the UNESCO World Heritage (http://www.vilagorokseg.hu/old-village-of-holloko-and-its-surroundings) village of Hollókő late morning after a 2 hrs drive in the picturesque hilly area of Nógrád County. Hollókő is an exceptional place because it is not a museum village, but inhabited by locals who engage in daily village life and preserve many of the ancient traditions. Here we take part in an organised folklore program and sightseeing. Finally, splitting into smaller groups, we will have home cooked lunch with local families. Early afternoon, with another hour of bus drive in the rolling north Hungarian countryside, we reach the Ipolytarnóc Fossil Nature Reserve Area of the Bükk National Park (http://www.ieger.com/ipolytarnoc.html; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipolytarn%C3%B3c), often referred to as the “Prehistoric Pompeii” for its pertrified trees and many other fossils. We will explore the area and the indoors exhibition with expert guides. After this programme we head towards the feet of the volcanic Mátra Mountains, to a forest lake-side hotel at Mátrafüred-Sástó, where a buffet dinner awaits at Sástó Hotel. This will be our hotel for the evening, where after dinner we can have a walk around the lake and in the nearby forest.
We leave Mátrafüred and head for Szilvásvárad, the gate of the Bükk Mountains. Unlike the volcanic ranges of the Börzsöny and Mátra Mountains, Bükk is a limestone range which has a central plateau with rich karst formations and diverse flora and fauna (https://vimeo.com/202195626 ). At Szilvásvárad a National Park ranger will join us, who will guide the group for the tour. The bus will take us quite high to the parking lot at Olaszkapu (“Italian gate”), from which point we will engage in a 7-8 km walking tour to the plateau (https://www.walkingeurope.info/walk-description-6124 ). This will lead us to rich mountain meadows with characteristic karst formations (Fekete-sár-rét, Zsidó-rét). With a not too long, but steady ascend we reach one of the peaks of the range (Tar-kő) which offers a magnificent view and diverse rock grasslands on its slopes. After the summit-meeting J we enter Őserdő (“Ancient forest”), a pristine mountain beech forest, protected since 1942. We return back to the starting point through the valley of Káposztáskert-lápa, where we pass by a unique chain of karst sinkholes. From the Bükk Plateau we arrive at our final destination, Eger, in the afternoon. Eger is one of the most beautiful towns of Hungary with rich history, well preserved old town, a fortress, nice restaurants and wine cellars (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/hungary/northeastern-hungary/eger ). After settling in at Hotel Eger Park (https://hotelegerpark.hu/web/ ), you will be free to walk to the city and enjoy a dinner and/or explore Eger for yourself, but we also plan to reserve places at a restaurant or wine cellar to secure a place for those who prefer to keep together.
In the morning we load our luggage into the bus at the hotel, and join our guide for a sightseeing walk in the historic town and the fortress. The bus will depart for Budapest late morning/midday. A lunch pack will be provided for the road. On request we stop over at Liszt Ferenc International Airport (14:00 earliest), then at a central location in Budapest, finally those who need to return will be given a ride back to Vác.
The price is 280 EUR / person in twin/double bed rooms, singel occupancy extra fee is 75 ER / person. The price includes transport, hotel accommodation with breakfast and dinner at Mátrafüred-Sástó (drinks payable separately), lunch at Hollókő, and twice packed sandwich lunches, entry fees and guidance as detailed in the program. Sunday evening dinner is not included. We start the tour at a minimum of 15 people signing up, the maximum number of places is 45 persons. Final deadline for registration is 10th June, but a month earlier registration or e-mailed intent is highly appreciated because of hotel room contingent reservations and advance payments on our side.