WALK WITH MÁRTI ON BEM STREET
On our last walk, we got from St. John to St. John. Since then, a great many things have happened – the main square, officially called the Kossuth square is being reconstructed. According to current plans, the renovation is to be completed by the end of April and I promise to tell you what the final result will be like.
Autumn Fishing in Tokaj
Autumn represents the end of something in public consciousness; it brings along the twilight of the summer holiday and summer itself. But a new era starts on the rivers too just like at school, since the first cool nights, and the rapidly falling water temperature entail the explosive uptrend of predatory fish’s appetite as well. Most fish consciously prepare for winter, and parallel with the changing weather, a change gets started in the mood and appetite of fish too. For the anglers who arrive to Tokaj in this period of the year, it is not worth missing those unique opportunities that the Tisza and Bodrog rivers can offer.
TOKAJ WINE DAYS 2021
Events in Tokaj and Hímesudvar
We have long been dreaming about a wine festival in Tokaj which doesn’t pull people into the city’s main square among wooden sheds, continuously supported by large-stage shows and concerts which all make real and authentic interaction with the guests and the winemakers almost impossible. Instead, like many other settlements (Etyek, Mád, Erdőbénye), we’d prefer to invite lovers of wine from around the world into cellars, gardens and wineries where they may taste the delicacies of the region in a friendly and, most of all, genuine environment, while enjoying the local cuisine in the middle of a more personal, smaller concert.
The decision makers here in Tokaj have yet to make this a reality.
Surprisingly, it was actually the Covid-19 situation that helped the locals open up a little bit, and in contrast to the original plans, the festival will take place in multiple locations and span across multiple events this time – almost every winery and restaurant has planned some programme or idea.
We hope that everyone can find their favourite places and their favourite tastes here – this involves musical taste as well!
Come visit, explore a bit, and above all, have a great time!
We’ve invited József Csurkulya dulcimer (cimbalon) player to treat us to a little show on Saturday afternoon of the festival. It won’t be his first time here at Hímesudvar, as he has visited us before.
Having graduated at Franz Liszt Academy of Music, he incorporates several genres into his style, becoming unique and easily enjoyable for everyone – not to mention he plays on a one-of-a-kind instrument with an extreme demonstration of skill and talent.
According to current regulations, a proof of vaccination is not needed while residing in the garden. However, if bad weather decides to greet us, we will be forced to move inside the store, therefore requiring a proof of vaccination from everyone who wishes to stay for the concert.
For the duration of Saturday – during the show as well – Kisfalucska Mansion and Bistro will provide us the gastronomic part of our day with the following: mangalica ham, salami, different sausages, local cheese types, kápia paprika, cornichon and fresh loaves of bread straight from the oven.
We look forward to seeing you!
translated by Áron Várhelyi
TOKAJ GIFT CARDS
We often find ourselves in trouble when we wish to come up with a smart and suitable gift for one of our friends, acquaintances, family members or business partners. Our new giftcards can help you if you find yourself in a similar situation; the article below describes the two types of brand new giftcards we’ve recently introduced.
If we know – why wouldn’t we – our giftee’s likes and dislikes, a giftcard is a great choice for demonstrating our affection, since they may choose anything their eye catches according to the given selection, let that be sweets, cosmetics, entertaining electronics or wine.
We offer them fine tokaj wine, of course, waiting to be opened by curious hands and to provide a momentary or life-long tasting experience to those who try them.
Many times it’s in the last moment we realise that it’s someone’s birthday or anniversary – awkward! The store has already closed and if we order online it will never arrive in time (especially that which we haven’t even figured out yet).
For these „last minute” situations, we recommend the superfast WEBSHOP GIFT CARDS. You only need to input the correct name of the gifter, the giftee and their email, and after a successful online credit card or PayPal transaction, the giftcard will land in your acquaintance’s inbox within a matter of seconds, in the form of a neat letter. The letter includes a code which they may use to purchase anything from the webshop within the gift’s limit.
Idea: if we wish to surprise someone as a group – but separately –, this can also be done efficiently. The received giftcards’ amounts will add up into a balance, which the giftee can access via a unique link, and they may use their available currency in a single amount or in multiple, small purchases.
The other, traditional CARD can also be quite speedy, since it becomes accessible directly after your purchase completes. You can download and even print it if this option is suitable enough for you. We can also send you this version of the card in the form of a 350 gram printed paper if you’re a fan of the face-to-face method of gifting. Don’t forget to indicate this in the ’comment’ section during your purchase!
The only drawback of this card is that it cannot be used in the webshop automatically, but it can be used via email orders.
The cards aren’t exclusively for ordering wine. They also provide the same value when purchasing accessories, books, and even tasting programme or vineyard tours, which provide long lasting experiences in the Tokaj region.
Hopefully we can ease your gifting troubles or dilemmas soon with a TOKAJ giftcard.
translated by Mara Várhelyi
Reopening news from Tokaj
The most recent news regarding opening schedules, service availability and other traffic information are all included in this article, which we will update regularly. Before you start making your way here, make sure you check it out.
From 2021 May 2
Last year, Tokaj’s main bridge had begun to be renovated, mostly the pedestrian walkway and the bicycle road receiving a lot of attention. The renovation of the roundabout is also still under way, therefore, this section of the road is controlled by traffic lights, which slow down the overall speed of approaching from the other side of the bridge. We recommend heading to Tokaj from the direction of Miskolc or Sárospatak and through the town of Bodrogkeresztúr.
Based on our experiences, it’s quite smooth to approach the bridge on weekdays, but the weekends can be rather problematic in terms of traffic jams. Be sure to calculate your trip accordingly!
From St. John to St. John
On our last virtual trip we took our rest at the „great” parking lot next to Bonchidai inn and I promised to write another time about the „old town”. Let’s brace ourselves again and walk further!
Going north from the parking lot – towards the main bridge – we come across several notable sights already. On the side of a large building we can an artwork made of iron by Tibor Tenkács called „Harvesters”, which was created in 1973, and for a long time was located next to the train station. It was moved to its current spot in 2012. This piece of art shows that as we walk around Tokaj, the essence of grapes, wine and the harvest can be felt throughout the whole city.
Next to the staircase leading up to Finánc-hill, and opposite the Erzsébet bridge we can see St. John of Nepomuk’s statue, who is the protector and saint of rivers, bridges and rowers. A few steps further is the statue of Ferenc Németi, who was the former captain of Tokaj’s castle in the 17th century. Moving on, we reach a flight of stairs and a model of some of the Rákóczi family’s castles and fortresses: Tokaj, Sárospatak, Regéc, Szerencs. At the beginning of Rákóczi street, one can still see the volcanic rocks at the foundation of the houses and buildings that were once used to support the city’s port and ferry system. This is also why the city was formerly called Kőrév (Kuurev) – literally: Stoneport – back in the 11th century.
Let’s walk directly up to Óvár street in order to evade all the people who are trying to do their daily business like shopping. The narrow street doesn’t contain any special sights but legend has it that the 1890 fire that raged across the town started from this very street, originating from inside a quilt factory.
Moving around 300 meters further we arrive at the birthhome of Ede Paulay, the former director of the National Theatre. The renovated house is now home to the Paulay Winehouse.
Further north along the Óvár street we arrive at a smaller junction. From here, we may deviate towards the main square between the pharmacy and the Rákóczi cellar, but let’s head to Dózsa György street instead.
A patinated tablet on the corner reminds us that Sámuel Helm, a painter of Tokaj – for now unknown to the history of arts – has lived and worked here. Even further on the left side we can the Roman Catholic parish built in 1693 and the former Lutheran garden, whose renovations for touristic purposes has already begun. We come to a small square and another junction. We see yet another statue of St. John of Nepomuk, created in 1802, although its original location was next to the head of the bridge. Here, we may take a short rest on one of the benches on the small Oestrich-Winkel square, then turn to our left and head up towards the mountain.
In the springtime, during the blossoming of the cherry trees or during the colourful season of autumn, this street is easily one of the most beautiful places to walk along. According to some plans initiated by the World Heritage Centre, this street is getting renovated to make it even more magical than it already is. On our right, the Calvinist church can be seen, built between 1802-22. (I hereby promise to write up a separate virtual walks which tours the temples, churches and other religious buildings in the city). Opposite we may observe the Dobogó cellar’s vine-covered walls and on the other side of the street is a bust of Gyula Alpár Veress and the statue of the Grapestomping girl, both of which making the environment of the street quite pleasant. Although, according to tradition, it was mostly men who stomped the harvested grapes in wooden tubs or tanks, the creator still decided on depicting a young lady in this piece of art. It is also worth observing the statue’s details, especially the hairstyle and clothing.
Not far from the statue is a memorial written in Hungarian and Polish about the the winetrader Robert Wojciech Portius of Krosno, who was allegedly of Scottish origin as well. He was one of the first large-scale importers between Poland and Hungary, having brought many other European royal courts Tokaj wine.
For those who decide to stop here, they can turn to their right and head in and up to the garden of Hímesudvar, moving through a gate-like entryway and climbing a flight of stairs. The winery welcomes all sorts of hikers, even those who aren’t necessarily experts on wine.
And to those who still have some energy left inside them, they may follow the red tourist path and move on towards Szeles-top and the other tourist paths (see my previous post), or from the end of Aranyosi street they can look back onto the city and the Great Plains.
That’s it for today, I hope you enjoyed our walk! Next time, we’ll start again from the main square. Have a nice rest and enjoy your wine!
translated by Áron Várhelyi
Tokaj Guide 2021. Out now!
The Tokaj Guide, one of the region’s most important guides and the most wine-friendly writing has finally released. Its popularity is proven by the fact that this is its fourth release.
Author Gergely Ripka was honoured by the critical acclaim given to him at the start of this year, as his work was nominated on the Gourmand Awards among the 4 nominees in the „European wine” category.
The bilingual (Hungarian-English) guide is a handy start for beginners, adepts, tasters at home and on the road.
Gergely has supplied us with the first copies after the online premiere of the book on Friday. You can purchase your own copies or receive them as extra if you order the special wine collection below.
Tokaj, City of waters
Anglers see all seasons from the point of view of an angler. While „others” wait for the warm weather to come, the sight of green trees and flourishing meadows, or the opportunities deriving from the lengthening of the days in the springtime, the fisherman’s mind clicks most of the time on the expansion of the fishing possibilities. The season starts indeed in March and April – this is the time to dust the fishing rods, reels and tackle fed up with the winter break! But is it true that spring really promises thriving opportunities for all kinds of fishing methods? Is it worth going spin fishing in March too?
The answer is clearly YES! Although the third and fourth month of the year are full of prohibition periods concerning our predatory fish. From the 1st of March it is forbidden to fish for zander, asp, perch, and Volga zander. At the same time, the ban on pike fishing, that started in February, is still in effect too (ending on 1st April). Therefore, this period of the year is truly difficult for spin fishermen, but it does not mean that we should entirely give up artificial lure fishing.
Most of the fanatic spin fishermen either hunt bass (which count as alien species) in this period of the year on intensely stocked lakes, or they walk about on the shores of rapid (and often rhapsodic concerning water level) creeks and streams hoping that they might catch a good-size chub. However, the lovers of big rivers and wild waters do not have to lose heart either, since there are two fish species that are not protected by catching prohibitions in March, and it is easy to prey them in the quickly warming waters too. And these two species are ide and the European catfish (Wels catfish).
Those, who visit Tokaj in early spring have the chance to catch both species indeed, since River Bodrog is famous for its huge ide fish, while the catfish population of River Tisza is highly exceptional. Thus, nature-loving spin anglers can spin fish here for two species, even on the same day, that behave quite different, and that provide an entirely different fishing experience for those who deserve this.
Let’s start with ide (orfe), which is basically not a bream fish, since it is a member of the Cyprinids family. However, even this attribution of it cannot stop them from hunting prey fish in a predatory manner all year long, but especially in spring and autumn. By the way, besides small prey fish, they feed on almost everything; most of their diet is made up by bugs and insects falling into the water from trees, but they also consume crayfish and leeches too, furthermore, in the summer, they even collect the fruit of wild mulberry trees that fall on the surface of the water.
We must prepare with ultra-light tackle for ide. Our spin fishing rod must be capable of casting small lures. Fishing from a boat, we prefer rods shorter than 2 meters, with casting weights approximately between 1-10 grams, and small, size 1000 or 2000 reels, with 0,06-0,08 mm diameter line (preferably either nanofil or braid) on the spool.
The mouth of the ide is small; thus, we can spin fish for them effectively with smaller-size lures, 2-5 cm wobblers, soft baits, or metal lures (like spinners and spoons). When choosing the color of a lure, we should prefer darker colors and lifelike patterns!
In this period of the year, we may find ide fish in deeper water (too). At spots where the current of the river pushes out to the shoreline and the depth of the water is sufficiently deep enough (2-4 meters), that is where we should search for the ide group. Here, the current constantly drifts nourishment in front of the fish stuck in the coastal lane, which is particularly advantageous for orfe.
Ide is not a lonely fish; where we catch one, probably there are more, but we must know how to deceive them. And we must be quiet and careful during their fishing, since they are extremely clever and cautious fish, and their eyesight is very good into the bargain!
Despite ide, the other predatory fish that can be caught in this period of the year, the largest fish in our waters, the top predatory fish in freshwaters, is the Wels catfish (Silurus glanis). Fishing for catfish, considering the size of it, requires extremely strong equipment. Thus, we must choose heavy tackle, rods, reels, and line which were designed expressly for catfish fishing. Besides the harmony of rod & reel, we must pay special attention to every little element of our rig, e.g.: the snap, the lure, the trebles on the lure, the split rings on the lures, because if we do not do so, catfish will most probably find the weak link in our tackle, and, as a consequence of this, we might lose the fish of our lifetime!
Catfish begin feeding more and more actively due to the warming water. As soon as the temperature of the water reaches 6-7 Celsius degrees, we have a good chance of catching them with artificial lures too. Then, when the water temperature goes above 8 Celsius degrees, they start feeding like crazy, and from this time on, they also react well to the sound of the ancient catfish luring tool, called clonk. Obviously, these measures are not regularities, but experience underlines that they are certainly true to River Tisza.
This is the period of the year – until the water temperature reaches 14-15 Celsius degrees – when most of the large catfish are caught here on the Tokaj Tisza section too. In this period, they attack aggressively wobblers, soft baits, and other kinds of artificial baits too, which action is to their liking and which enters their attack zone.
We can also utilize their greediness. At first, we can find them only in deep waters and steep drop offs, but later, as the weather gets warmer, they start moving to shallower and shallower water as they are following their prey fish, which visit the rapidly warming, 2-3 meters shallow waters in springtime.
We apply two very effective methods. When they are stationary in deep waters, we find more of them in relatively small but easy-to-locate spots. In this case we anchor above the spot and cast our soft baits towards them. We move our lures nice and slow above the bottom, trying to deceive these refined fish. In case we use the other method, we do not anchor the boat, but utilizing the current of the river, we let the flow drift our boat, and we keep moving our baits vertically right under the boat. We apply this technique when – due to the warm water – fish are already scattered around, and not concentrated on one special spot, but they might occur everywhere along a longer river section.
So, there is life beyond zanders and pikes for the lovers of predatory fish, we do not have to leave our spinning rods in their stands in spring either. The essence is that we must aim consciously at these predatory fish (ide and catfish) with the proper tackle and lures, and we must fish at the right places. In Tokaj – in a unique way – we have good chance to catch both species! And after a tiresome day we spent with spin fishing on the rivers, the best relaxing program is to visit the cool wine cellars of Tokaj.
Appointments for fishing trips in the spring are now available!
If you need a local and professional fishing guide, feel free to contact me!
Walking in Tokaj with Márti
Looking out the window, there is no snow – but who knows? By the time you read this, the weather could turn quite nasty. However, it’s winter in Tokaj and very quiet. Is it worth it to come to Tokaj during these times? Considering that the museums are closed during quarantine and the restaurants only offer take-out? The answer is yes.
It is worth it, for a breath of fresh air and to take a long walk to clear our heads. Where should we start? Towards the mountain or down the riverbank, or shall we just walk along the city? Each locale can provide us with at least 2-3 hours of exploring.
We arrive by train. From the station, along the end of the Szerelmi cellar range, we can start off in two different directions. (The range is quite approachable by car as well, but parking can be tricky.)
Going straight along the paved road, we reach the Hétszőlő trail. According to our stamina and mood, we may choose one out of 3 color-marked paths; red, green or yellow. They follow the vineyard together on paved pathways, eventually forking out. There might be vehicles working on the way, so proceed with caution!
The green square barely elevates, only surrounding a small vineyard. The yellow one has a few more exciting parts but we can take a breather at any of the information boards or resting sites. While finding our strength we may learn a thing or two about the local grapes of Tokaj. Our destination is the Hétszőlő sign, from which we descend back to our original starting point. Following the red square brings us onto a very steep journey all the way to the top of the property, reaching the Kusajd vineyard. A beautiful view greets us at the top of the Hétszőlő vineyard, panning to Tokaj’s southern area as well as the Taktaköz. If the weather is good enough, we can even see the chimneys of the Tiszaújváros Chemical Works.
If we’re hungry for adventure or just obsessed with nature, turning towards the mountain at the end of the cellar range brings us to Szerelmi vineyard along a semi-paved road. The first part of the path consists of gentle serpentines, but the last straight part rises to a more serious uphill walk. Reaching the end of the former and keeping right, we reach Tehéntánc top. Following the instructions of the guiding signs here, we may go to the TV tower, or keep on towards the Finánc Hill Overlook (although this area isn’t precisely marked). From here on we can decide to decend via the Overlook’s stairs or take the concrete road leading downward. Taking the first leads us to the Erzsébet bridge, while the second takes us to the Employment Center’s parking area, behind the Tokaji Ferenc High School.
Find the vineyards on the map here!
From the Szerelmi range and choosing the green tourist trail, we end up at Szeles top. If we seem less tired and more energetic, we may head east and marvel at the rivers slithering on the Alföld, the Great Plain. From Szeles we have three choices: 1) follow the red sign towards the TV tower. 2) Moving along the green marking and moving around Hideg-side vineyard we reach the Fesztiválkatlan, descending back into the city next to Torkolat lodging, which used to be the city’s northern gate some time ago. 3) The red tourist sign leads us to the cemetery on Dózsa György street. This area has a very steep elevation, making it difficult to travel through in, or after bad weather. However, it’s worth it to take this path, since the doors of Hímesudvar open to this very street, inviting weary travelers in to rest and have a glass of wine in the welcoming garden.
Going back to TV tower, following the asphalt road takes us to Tarcal. From Tarcal, we can return to Tokaj by either taxi or train. Going down the same road leads to the ski-range. Unfortunately, the city has no snow cannons, but in ideally snowy weather, the range is great for beginners.
The Borostyán trail, which eventually forks into the green trail, starts from Szerelmi cellar row as well. A rest may be taken at any of the marked resting sites, where one can find more information on the Kopasz mountain’s flora and fauna.
For these trails I definitely recommend the appropriate clothing, perhaps even a hiker’s stick. Straying from the signs is not advised, since deep trenches and tide-washed crevices aren’t far from the hiking trails.
From the „large” parking lot on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Endre street one is met with many opportunities to explore. For those who only wish to climb a bit of th emountain, the Finánc Hill Overlook is the closest landmark, although the staircase leading up to it can be slippery and is a little steep. The correct footwear, safe for keeping the ankles in place is highly recommended for this one. The overlook provides a wide view of the Tisza and Bodrog rivers’ fork and the neighbouring settlements towards the east.
Taking off to the south from the parking area, on Széchenyi walkway, along the Tisza’s ramparts, we may move on behind the once Salt Customs Building / Rákóczi-Dessewffy castle and continue near the football field. In front of the ÉVIZIG headquarters is the monument of the flood, which commemorates the great rising of the Tisza in 2000. The record level of 928 cm is still unbroken. Moving south from here won’t allow us to see any other impressive landmarks, although the fishing lakes further away from the city or the Ively-stream’s pass can be exciting in their own ways. However, those who venture this far will be met with the serenity of the Kopasz mountain’s looming presence and the quiet calm of nature. If one happens to be by car, we may drive along the riverbank to reach the neighbouring settlement, Tiszaladány.
Going north from the parking lot takes us to the „old town”. Until the 19th century – when the city’s southern area was built, called Kis-Tokaj – this was the only place which was known as Tokaj by multiple names (Tisza-Tokaj, Nagy-Tokaj). In the old town, every building has its story – but this is for another time
The beauty and atmosphere of the hikes can only be experienced if you take them yourself, so put your boots on - Tokaj awaits!
Translated by Áron Várhelyi