BUDAPEST Jewish music festival with Jewish Renaissance from Sunday 31st August 2014
The motivation for this trip is to be able to enjoy evening concerts in the greatest of all European Synagogues whilst staying in one of the great hotels of Europe the luxurious Corinthia Grand Hotel Royal with free use of its Spa swimming pool.
Budapest is considered the most sophisticated of Central European capitals and is often referred to as the "Paris of the East". Its wide boulevards and impressive architecture convey a sense of affluence from years gone by. It is home to some 90,000 Jews, once the second biggest community in Europe.
The modern city of Budapest, straddling the Danube River, is a unification of the old cities of 'Buda', ‘Obuda’ (Old Buda) and 'Pest' each with its own separate Jewish community originating as early as the 13th century. Under the various royals and foreign powers (Tartars, Turks, Habsburgs) diverse Jewish communities formed throughout the land. The downtown historic Jewish Quarter still has a quaint atmosphere of contrasts: original buildings needing repair next to shiny new apartment blocks. In 1869, the Jewish community split into Neolog (progressive), Orthodox and status quo congregations—each having its own grand synagogue. The birth house of Theodor Herzl is a museum and many chapters in the history of Zionism took place here. Where once the birth house of Herzl stood you can find the Jewish Museum with wealth of artifacts and documents relating to Jewish history in Hungary.
By 1935 there were more than 215,000 Jews in Budapest, making this community one of the largest in the world. With Hungary joining the Axis powers, the collaborative government introduced anti-Jewish laws. In 1944, the Hungarian Nazi Arrow Cross Party took over. A devastating deportation action was carried out and over half of Hungary’s Jews were murdered within a few months in Auschwitz and Birkenau. This was the only ghetto in Europe which was still functioning when liberated. Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg and Swiss Consul Carl Lutz saved 10,000s of Hungarian Jews by issuing them false documents. See the moving granite and steel “Weeping Willow” memorial and a bronze statue of Wallenberg to commemorate the Righteous Gentiles and the cast iron “Shoes on the Danube Bank” memorial for those deported and murdered.
During Soviet times a relatively large Jewish community continued on here (about 60,000 members) and it was the only place within the Soviet satellite countries where there was an operational Rabbinical Seminary!
The highlight of any tour to Budapest is a visit to the Byzantine-Moorish style Dohany Street Synagogue. It is perhaps the most magnificent synagogue in the world and largest in Europe, seating over 3000 people. Today's community of approx. 90,000 is served by 23 synagogues and prayer houses, 2 colleges, 3 high schools, a Jewish hospital, Jewish newspaper, kosher restaurants, butchers and bakers. Life is finding its way back to the old Jewish district; shops are reopening, synagogues and Jewish community buildings are being renovated, Jewish cultural events and festivals are held annually.
A tour of Budapest includes World Heritage Sites such as the Buda Castle and surrounding Castle Quarter, Saint Stephen's Basilica, the Chain Bridge, the mid 19th century Andrássy Avenue with its eclectic neo- Renaissance palaces and the Hungarian State Opera. One can still sense the power and splendour of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, which was home to many different ethnic and religious groups. The spectacular neo-Gothic Parliament is ornate and massive – building materials included 40 kg of gold! displaying its splendour on the banks of the Danube. A historical stroll along the Danube Promenade is a must for this fascinating, charming and very Jewish city.
About our Guide Agi Salgo
I started to work in the Dohany synagogue as their guide in 2004 and started to do Jewish tours. The following year I did the course on tour guiding and started to do all kinds of tours. I work for the following companies: Hungarian Tourism Office, Amadeus Waterways, Avalon Waterways, Scenic Tours, Viking River Cruise, Isram, Exeter, WZO, The Joint Distribution Commitee, Jewish Agency, Israel Experience, Maccabi, and of course Jewish Visitors Service. (and many many more). I work in English and Hebrew as well. I do private tours and groups as well. The tours I’m the most proud of are:
The Eichman trials 50th anniversary conference (organized by Andrea of same agency we are using )
guide of the VIP bus including Efrayim Zuroff
guide of Natan Sharansky
guide of "In Herzl's footsteps" for the World Zionist Organization
study tours for Israeli tour operators and travel agents
study tours for Israeli journalists
Joint Distribution Committee various Donor Delegations
US National Wrestling Team
British organists and organ lovers tour all over Hungary
Maccabi World Union-Maccabi GB Ashkenazi Roots Journey
There is an old story how I became a tour guide. I was about 3 years old when I said to a group of children on the playground: "If you want to listen to me, please follow me." And they did.
Since then a lot has happened but I still say the same. I like tour guiding so much that I do not consider it as a job. It is important for me that my guests do not only have a good time, but also learn something new, understand the whys, remember tastes, and feelings. A believe that 3 days after the trip you will not remember which monument was built by whom and when. But you will remember the feeling you felt when you saw the monument. I like to be part of that feeling, because that you will remember for a long time.
Itinerary – This is subject to change from a list of choices which will be adapted by popular concent and wishes of the group:-
31st Aug, Sunday
Flight from London various choices WizzAir & EasyJet from Luton & Gatwick - RyanAir from Stansted and BA from Heathrow
As people will be arriving different days and flights aim to be at the Hotel Corinthia 5* one of the great hotels of Budapest with free use of Spa and swimming pool by 3pm on 31st August for acclimatsation tour
3:00 PM Jewish Quarter walking tour. (pls. note the Jewish Quarter is about 12 min walk ).
This tour is going to be also a perfect opportunity to introduce the Jewish Summer Festival with different venues, out-door market place, book fare etc.
Evening optional: concerts etc. Choices will be advised later
1st September Monday.
Morning: General tour of Budapest. Drive along the Andrassy Ave, learn about the Hungarian history in the Heroes’ Square, visit the City Park, Castle of Vajdahunyad, after it drive to Buda, walk along the Castle District, visit the Hospital in the Rock (http://www.sziklakorhaz.eu/en)
We finish the day in the First Strudel House of Pest. You can hear about the history of the famous Hungarian strudel, taste it and/or try to make it. Lunch after the presentation in the Strudel House Restaurant. . http://www.reteshaz.com/rolunk_en.php if you desire
Afternoon and evening optional: concerts etc. Your choice of afternoon activity – the weather is likely to be hot and sunny and you might like to visit one of the city’s incomparable thermal baths, each with its own character. Recommended are Gellert (more expensive than the others but very elegant) Margitsziget (Margaret Island), where there are lawns to sunbathe or Szechenyi the most central and the most interesting in terms of its neo-baroque architecture and huge range of baths and treatments. Our coach transport can drop people off at Szechenyi outdoor Spa thermal baths as it is not so easy for people to cope with the metro themselves and taxis tend to have whirring meters –You can’t go to Hungary in summer and not visit one of the baths – the indoor one at the hotel is not the same). So bring a towel and swimming costume with you so if you wish the coach can dropp you off at the Szechenyi outdoor Spa baths.
2nd September . Tuesday.
Morning: History of music in Budapest, following the footsteps of our greatest composers. Visit the Houses of Franz Liszt and Bela Bartok – these function as small Museums today. If the group do not go for concert in the newly re-opened Academy of Music, then take guided tour is the must
Free time for lunch
Afternoon: Holocaust Museum and hidden treasures of Jewish Budapest. Visit the Glass House, see the Shoes Memorial by the River Danube, Wallenberg Memorial in the former middle class Jewish residential area, visit Synagogues in Buda side and meet leader(s) of local Jewish organization(s). If time visit to the Jewish cemetary.
Meals are not included as tour members will be going to different concerts but we will give advice on restaurants – including where you might be serenaded by opera singers or a gypsy band.
Evening optional. Concert choices etc..
3rd September . Wednesday. 10:00 AM – 3.00/4.00 PM.
Tour to the town of Szentendre and the Danube Bend.
Visit the Ethnograpic Museum, enjoy a ride on the Skanzen train, get off at the Upland Market Town” regional unit and learn about the life of Jews and Hungarians throughout the centuries.
After it get to Szentendre. with its colorful houses, narrow alleys, and dozens of museums and galleries, is the most frequently visited tourist center along the Danube. This Mediterranean-like town was the home of Serbs who fled from the Turks and settled here in the 14th-17th centuries. For the tourist who is looking for nostalgia, there are: various shops, cozy restaurants, old shop signs, the ancient buildings of the Main Square and a not long ago opened small synagogue. Szentendre is considered an outstanding center of art in Hungary. Explore the small Museum of Micro Art (An extraordinary museum in which the artist has created minuscule gold figures and forms which he has perched either on a grain of sand, a hair, the eye of a needle or even a grain of rice. Each sculpture must be viewed through a microscope!)
Free time for lunch.
Transfer to the Airport.
PRICE £495 per person sharing double/twin - single supplement £195
Extra nights at £150 per night double/twin or single £130 either side of trip
Trip only proceeds once 20 people have completed booking forms with £200 deposit pp obtainable from email@example.com
Do not book your flights till trip confirmed once 20 people book
B & B at the Corinthia Grand Hotel Royal Hotel 5* Budapest
Beautifully restored for a new generation of traveller, Corinthia Hotel Budapest is one of the grandest hotels in the city. An impressive landmark building with an imposing Neo-classical façade and soaring glass atrium, Corinthia Budapest offers a choice of elegant eateries and destination bars for even the most discerning traveller. Close to historical and cultural landmarks including the UNESCO world heritage site Andrássy Avenue, the House of Terror museum and many of the city’s world-famous spas, Corinthia Budapest is the perfect destination for both exploration and relaxation - See more at: http://www.corinthia.com/hotels/budapest/#sthash.1B0VuCYE.dpuf
Our package price includes:
3 nights accommodation with buffet breakfast, Royal Spa use, free WIFI in the rooms.
Coach bus for the sightseeing tours and transfers according to the progam.
Tour guide according to the program (Agi Salgo)
Entrance fees (Dohany Sy, Jewish Museum, Kazinczy Sy, Liszt Memorial House, Bartok Memorial House, Holocaust Museum, Glass House, Old Buda Synagogue, Frankel Sy, Etnographi Museum with train ride around, Micro Art Museum)
Air-fare - Recommend RyanAir Stansted Sunday at 8.35 to Budapest on 31/8/14 Lands at 12.05 - Return Budapest 21.30 on Wednesday 3rd September landing Stansted 23.00 [as of 5/1/14 £95 return] - or use alternative choices of flights
All lunches and evening meals are not included – Free time will be given lunch times for people to choose how they wish to eat as well as in evening with people deciding whether pre concert dinner or indeed if post concert dinners are preferred
ticket for visiting the newly re-opened Academy of Music – the guided tour prices have not yet published
Concert choices for the Jewish Music Festival to follow - these tickets will be extra and you will get to choose each evening from about 3 choices on offer including the nightly main concert at the cathedral style Dohany Synagogue [In 2013 Marcel attended Chazon inspired concert starring David D’Or from Israel – Klezmer 2nd night – 3rd night Songs of Barbara Streisand by Hungarian singing stars]
This trip is for JR readers and 1 year membership must be taken up to join at £24