Photograph of Heroes’ Square, Budapest, Hungary again taken from the bus when it was stopped.
We were totally charmed by Beautiful Budapest and especially Budapest at night. So we had to see it all again. While on our river cruise we’d viewed this beautiful city by night as we’d sailed in on the Danube. Now it was time to see it from the land on a “Green Bus” tour.
Hotel Astoria in Budapest, Hungary.
Up at the Citadella Restaurant in Budapest, Hungary.
Another photo taken outside the Citadella in Budapest, Hungary.
View from up opposite the Citadella Restaurant in Budapest, Hungary.
Black and White Photo of Parliament House, Hungary.
I took this in a rush while we were stopped at the Lights on our Night “Green Bus” tour of Budapest. I was actually rather amazed they turned out as well as they did. I’m just interested in what you think i.e. whether you prefer the coloured version or the black and white the best.
We did a lot of sightseeing in and around Budapest on these buses. This was outside the Palace of Art at Heroes’ Square.
Sorry everyone but the silly season is now beginning here in the land of Oz with lovely Christmas Parties and lots of other things to be accomplished. I hope you don’t mind but rather than write about the last few days of our European Holiday, I’ve decided to create a fairly simple Photographic Memoir instead of the usual longer stories.
I’ll just be posting a few photos each day for about a week or so. I do so want to have the opportunity to share our lovely last days in Budapest, Hungary. As you know it was an amazing surprise to me. There were so many interesting highlights. I do hope you enjoy them all as much as we did. After Christmas I’ll try to find some time to write the very last post about our somewhat eventful flight home to Australia.
I’d also like to wish you all a Very Happy Christmas and many happy times in the New Year. A big Thanks You to everyone who has been following our European River Cruising Memoirs in 2013. We’ve really enjoyed all of your encouragement along with your supportive and entertaining comments.
Michelle and D.B.
An interesting shop in the main centre of Budapest, Hungary. This photo was taken in May!
Another street performer with a marionette puppet in Budapest, Hungary.
Fifteen or so enchanting days spent river cruising had seemed to pass us by so quickly since that very first and oh so wonderful “Diamond Day”.
Michelle in the Viking Tor Lounge Area
We still clearly remembered the magic of that first morning, when we’d excitedly boarded this extremely new and ultra modern, yet comfortable home-away-from-home, “Viking Tor”.
Amazingly the past 15 days had flurried by in their own whirly-wind of delicious buffet breakfasts, interesting info-walks, convivial dining room and/or alfresco lunches, rather testing trivia quizzes, classical music concerts, informative cooking demonstrations, extravagant multi-course dinners (made only from the freshest of local produce of course) and an ever-changing kaleidoscope of European adventures and cultural events.
Flower on Viking Tor
We’d been able to explore medieval castles, stunning palaces, ornate cathedrals, timeless, ethereal abbeys, historical cobble-stoned streets. We’d seen some very pretty spring landscapes, engineering marvels (such as the Danube’s modern locks) and, of course, so many different and wonderful countries along with their beautiful picturesque cities and towns.
But sadly yes….now the time had come…. it truly was our TIME TO SAY GOODBYE.
Once again we were filled with a strange churning…. a really mixed-bag-of-emotional feeling.
On the one hand, we were very excited to still have a few days up our sleeve; some time to explore this blossoming city called Budapest in Eastern Europe.
We knew our neighbours back home in Australia had actually come from this area (Budapest and surrounding districts) so many years ago. I was really looking forward to seeing more of their homeland.
We were also looking forward to travelling home ourselves ….well perhaps D.B. was looking forward to this just a tad more than me!
I was really just looking forward to further exploring.
I now realised that Budapest was going to be far more enchanting than I’d initially thought.
We would soon be staying in the Jewish corner of the city, in an area I believed to be a reasonably short distance from transport to and from the central areas of Budapest. We were booked into a charming hotel called the Palazzo Zichy. The Palazzo had actually been rating rather highly in many of the recent tourist reviews. I loved the fact that it already had a wonderful history of its own, having once been called “home” by a very famous nobleman , Count Nándor Zichy, back in the 19th century.
Inside the Palazzo Zichy, Budapest, Hungary
I was, of course, also looking forward to taking many, many more photos of Budapest by night and also to exploring the Jewish area and synagogue by day.
You know, I am actually most thankful to all of the wonderful age-old religions in this extremely complex world of ours; for I believe they have all added some gems of wisdom to the mix as well as some most amazing architecture to the rich and eclectic fabric of this brilliant, sapphire-blue planet we happen to live on.
The Jewish Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary
For good or bad, I know that many of our life’s experiences are strengthened, for some even perhaps fortified, by the raging and fierce debates. Despite all of these amazing religious dichotomies, I myself believe they continue to speak the same ONE but at times, slightly different language. That is to love and respect one another and care for our world.
Viking Tor Longship Bell
So it was very heavy hearts, that we eventually decided to disembark on this rather sad morning. I believe we were among the last to go.
After a most delicious buffet breakfast and some further exchanging of Email addresses and phone contacts, it truly was our ……. “Time to say Goodbye”.
I think the song below says it so well. And you know, I don’t actually really even know what they are saying, yet I can certainly sense the powerful emotion! It was indeed a sad goodbye.
Spring 2013, Globe Trotting and River Cruising.
Another Viking River Cruise Boat in Budapest, Hungary.
If you love this song as much as I do you may also like to listen to the earlier version which is just below.
Lastly, we would both like to say a very big thank-you to the Viking Team for all of their dedicated care and mindful attention to detail. We absolutely loved this Grand European Tour. We can’t wait to travel with them again.
A door studded with Swarovski Crystals in the main city area in Budapest, Hungary.
Just after lunch on day 14 we excitedly joined our ever-obliging young tour guide, Valerie, for the very last info-walk of our Viking holiday. We were going to stroll through the main shopping precinct in Budapest, which is on the flat “Pest” bank of the Danube.
For D.B. and I this was going to be a rather important afternoon stroll, as we took in the various landmarks of the main commercial areas and hastily acquainted ourselves with the new city.
D.B. and I considered ourselves rather lucky, for we still had a further 5 full days ahead of us in which to explore this beautiful city of Budapest, before flying out towards the end of the week. These last two info tours on Day 14 (both the a.m. and p.m. tours) would later prove most beneficial in helping us to identify, and also prioritise, the important areas we would like to return to in the coming days.
Cafe in Budapest, Hungary.
We found the city streets were absolutely bustling. There were little cafes and souvenir shops selling many different traditional Hungarian products and handicrafts. There were many western chain hotels and charming little alfresco establishments. One of my favourite shops in Budapest was a smallish store that sold the most exquisite coloured-crystal glassware. Had I lived closer to Budapest I may well have been tempted to buy some of it. Well maybe just one piece…..as it was quite expensive.
As we explored the main street we saw several pretty young girls dressed in beautifully embroidered Hungarian folk costumes.
Pretty girl in traditional Hungarian costume in Budapest.
Another pretty girl in traditional dress, Budapest, Hungary.
There were also several interesting street performers eking out a living by performing for tourists on Budapest’s streets. All of it of this was of course just wonderful to photograph.
One of the street performers was dressed in a fine silvery witch’s costume. In fact she was painted silver from head to toe and accompanied by a rather fine looking silver cat which also played a part. The witch was particularly intriguing, as she had meticulously refined her rather bewitching characterture. She could really be quite eerie…no make that quite scary to watch.
The silver witch, Budapest, Hungary
One young fellow was trying very hard to encourage his anxious girlfriend to have her photo taken with the wicked old witch but it all seemed more than the young girl could handle….she was just so absolutely terrified by this scary old witch’s persona and her sinister witching movements! The young girl would invariably take two or three steps towards the old witch and then run…obviously terrified back in the direction of her boyfriend. I myself even thought I could hear witch’s gleeful cackle as the young girl ran!
I’m still not sure whether they actually ended up getting that photo or not as our group was again moving on. And you know…..by now this rather sweet but “not so young” Viking River Tourist wasn’t taking any chances of getting lost or even separated from her group again. For more on that story you might like to read my story on Lost in Regensberg!
A Modern Day Fairy Tale
She now always made sure she dutifully followed her Viking River Cruise tour guide! After all she’d already learnt her own scary lesson when she’d got lost in Regensberg just a few short info-walks ago!
Straddling both sides of the mighty Danube, Budapest, Hungary is currently reported to be one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in Europe. It famously combines what were originally two separate cities, namely the green, hilly, castled side of the Danube known as “Buda” on the cities’ West, and the sprawling, flat shopping and suburban plain area known as “Pest” which runs along the East of the Danube.
According to Time Magazine it has already been recognized as one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe. Some have even labeled it “Paris of the East”.
Fellow bloggers, Terri and James Vance over at “GALLIVANCE” recently noted that the well respected Condé Nast Traveler magazine had just referenced Budapest as Number 2 in its “Top 25 Cities of the World”, 2013 Readers’ Choice Awards.
You know, I have to admit it….I myself was in no way prepared for the absolute beauty that lay before us as we headed out to explore. I soon found that most areas of old Budapest (pop about 1.8 million) were literally lined with amazingly palatial, architectural, religious and historical gems.
Michelle taking in the beautiful Views from the “Buda” side of Budapest.
Sure there were still areas of the city that were desperately in need of repair work after experiencing their darkest days under the Nazi regime and later as part of the communist bloc in the 20th century.
But everywhere we went we saw outstandingly intricate and amazingly ornate detail, even on buildings that were still badly in need of repair and renovation. Budapest is a city that was obviously originally built on the very grandest of scales, and….. I’m guessing, in a somewhat similar fashion to the ever enchanting Vienna which of course I happen to love dearly.
Story has it that one famous monarch, namely Queen Elizabeth (often better known as Queen Sissi) of Habsburg Royal Family fame, had in fact taken a quite a personal liking to Budapest. It is believed she chose to spend significant amounts of time in her beloved Hungary whenever she could. It is only personal speculation on my part, but perhaps some of this cities’ wonderful historical finery may actually stem from her private love and early nurture of the young cities growth. I’m not really sure but I could hazard a guess to say that this may well have been the case.
Anyway…finery there was aplenty.
We began our bus tour on the flat “Pest” side of the city, travelling along the beautiful tree-lined avenue known as the Andrássy út which I believe is thought to be very similar to the famous Parisian Champs–Élysées. We journeyed on past the Budapest Opera House and up towards the grand Millennium Memorial in the Heroes’ Square which was completed at the beginning of the 20th century.
Heroes’ Square Budapest, Hungary.
Palace of Art in Heroes’ Square, Budapest, Hungary.
Later we journeyed through the old Jewish Quarter and then along past the famous Budapest Market Place before actually crossing the Danube to explore the “Buda” side of the city. From there we traveled on past the vernacular leading up to the Grand Budapest Castle sitting atop Castle Hill.
Buda Castle in Budapest.
We were all rather eager to spend some time exploring the eclectic architectural mix of the area with its old historical Matthias Church (also sometimes known as the Church of Our Lady), The Fisherman’s Bastion, The St Stephen Monument and so much more.
Exterior of Matthias Church
Beautiful detailed interior of Beautiful detailed interior of the Matthias Church, Budapest.
More of the wonderful detail inside the Matthias Church in Budapest.
Last photo showing the interior of Matthias Church, Budapest.
We were totally mesmerized by the views from up on top. We could see such a long way…right up along the Danube and way out over the “Pest” plains to the East.
Holy Trinity Column, Fisherman’s Bastion area in Budapest.
And of course there were also the absolutely breathtaking views of the stately Hungarian Parliament Building that had been constructed in the late 19th century. From the Fisherman’s Bastion you can see it in all of its Neo-Gothic Majesty as it rises up from the Eastern Bank of the Danube. I’ve read that it houses some 691 rooms and over 20 kilometers of stairs….how amazing!
Oh what a wonderful Vista it was.
But wait. I’m told Budapest has actually one more claim to fame and that is as the “City of Beautiful Panoramas”…..and for very good reason I would suggest.
View from the Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest.
With so much to offer, I truly believe that Budapest will definitely be the city to watch in the 21st century. It will undoubtedly continue to gather momentum as it undergoes further refurbishment and repair. I believe it could well reclaim its former title as one of the world’s grandest cities. It is already becoming one of Europe’s most well loved.
Parliament House, Budapest.
Statue of St Gerard on Gellert Hill Budapest
Fruit cocktails and delicious pastries, Fisherman’s Bastion area, Budapest.
Sailing into the Fairy Tale Kingdom of Budapest, Hungary.
Some six months have now passed since our first magical Viking River Cruise, yet it can still be a little difficult to determine whether Day 13 was actually the grandest or perhaps even the most dismal of days.
On the one hand we’d been relaxing, yes we’d actually been socialising and partying whilst sailing on towards what can only be described as the a most Spectacular Panorama…. “Budapest by Night”.
But on the other we were now beginning our sad farewells. We’d actually spent time today catching up with other guests to discuss their plans for post-cruise journeys and of course to wish them well as they made their way back home.
Day 13 was going to be our very last day of sailing along the mighty Danube. By tomorrow we would have just one more day of precious luxury to enjoy.
By early evening we would be dressing in our glittering finery….attending the Captain’s elegant Farewell Reception and Formal Dinner.
Amazingly D.B. and I had managed to spend some time during the early afternoon hours just lazing in the Viking Longship’s main lounge, enjoying the comforts and, at times. soaking up the gentle Spring Breeze out on the lovely alfresco Aquavit Terrace.
Later in the afternoon our Longship Tor had passed by the famous Danube Bend along with the notable Eszgertom Basilica which is said to be the largest catholic cathedral in Hungary.
Esztergom Catholic Cathedral on the Danube
Esztergom Cathedral from a different perspective.
We’d been cocktailed, we’d been champagned, we’d been wined and dined, and YES….all in a most convivial atmosphere right throughout the evening.
Many guests were now starting to trade Email addresses and contact information with their new found friends.
But I will never forget…..it was some time shortly after 10.00pm that the real magic began to crescendo as Viking Tor started it’s culminating cruise into the sparkling city of Budapest.
I don’t think very many of us were actually expecting the level of fairy tale enchantment that was soon infusing the night’s atmosphere. We drank it all in….the sparkling architectural wonder. There was the stately parliament building, there were so many historical bridges, there was an ABSOLUTELY GLISTENING display of city lights, and a very romantic…… almost magical castle. There were many beautiful old buildings lining the banks of the Danube. They all seemed to add their own aura to the breathtaking vista of this evening. Yes Budapest was just like a fairy tale kingdom after dark.
Parliament and one of the Bridges. Budapest, Hungary.
An Architectural Wonder, Parliament House, Budapest, Hungary.
More of Parliment House, Budapest, Hungary.
The Castle, Budapest, Hungary.
One more shot of the Castle, Budapest, Hungary.
Stateroom, Day 13, a small visitor, Budapest, Hungary.
The Chain Bridge, Budapest, Hungary.
It was all a most amazing and satisfying climax to our truly remarkable cruise.
We’re back to reality after a glorious holiday where we’ve been totally pampered and spoilt and now, I feel strangely sad about it all. I feel as though time must have sped up during that short exciting time while we were in Europe. Everyday normality and daily routine have faithfully returned and all that’s left are the rich and colourful memories.
Do you ever feel like this too when you return from a wonderful holiday?
It was brought home to me yet again, after our recent four-and-a-half week sojourn through Europe.
Having never been lucky enough to visit the northern countries before, the pre-trip waiting period had seemed rather dismal and eternal. You know the feeling and the extremely repetitive kitchen-table conversations…”You know we leave in just six months”; “It will go quickly”; “It’s now only five months and twenty days until we fly out”; and “We’ll be leaving in just five more months and ten days and four hours” and so the count down goes on and on.
In the lead up to our departure, the week days actually seemed somehow longer. The weekends also felt less interesting than they had previously and all because we were in what I call “the waiting period“: that eternal period of time when you’re just hanging around and longing to embark on what you believe is going to be, the trip of a life time.
Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary were all on our bucket list for, what would be, our very first sightseeing adventures through Europe. Three glorious weeks of doing our own thing and two action packed weeks of being totally spoiled by the wonderful Viking Crew on their fifteen day river cruise that would take us all the way from Amsterdam to Budapest across five countries and down three rivers.
And now what?
Well you see…We’re back!
It’s all behind us now and “Yes”…we’re firmly back in Terra Australis, Queensland already, with all of our grand memories and increased knowledge of Europe’s wonderful geography, modern history and cultural delights. We’re back with our 3000 odd photos and our trunk full of souvenirs.
We’re backalready on the Gold Coast to be precise and really, isn’t our own country, Australia, supposed to be “God’s Own Country” with its modern high-rise cities, its pristine beaches, its folkloric outback wilderness regions and it’s absolutely glittering coastal resorts?
If, indeed, this is “God’s Own Country” we’re living in, then why is it that I long for the excitement of planning yet another journey to exotic far off lands. And…. how did it all happen so quickly? Four and a half weeks was supposed to be a long time, or so I thought. But truly it just flew past so very fast. Time, I think, must surely speed up as soon as you board a plane. I’m convinced of it. Time just seems to fly when you’re being spoiled and having so much fun! Why won’t the good times just slow down a little?
If I sort through some of the memories, highlights and photos perhaps I can at least relive some of it for a while. This is my first blog and it’s written to share with you (if you’re interested) the fun times and the highlights of our recent European Sojourn.