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.
This is the story of a young student bear, some clever, sparkly gnomes, a rather large bag of magic fairy dust, and a somewhat disoriented Viking River Cruise tourist who loses her way in Radiant Regensburg! (P. S. Dearly Beloved (D.B.), continues to tell a similar (but perhaps far more colourful version to all who will lend an ear!) Do beware though as it is a rather looong story!
Well here goes…..
Once upon a time, there was a, not so young, Aussie couple who had found themselves lucky enough to have saved all of their pennies over many years. With all of this saved up treasure they’d been able to purchase a most wonderful Viking River Cruise in exchange for their “Penny Gold”!
This magical river cruise was now taking them through some five countries (The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary) and up and down three main rivers (The Rhine, The Main and the Danube). It was a truly grand European Sojourn. They were travelling in the early Spring months, as the trees were unfurling their emerald-green leaves and many of Europe’s prettiest blossoms were again bursting into their rainbow of Spring colour.
Everything had been going so well, just as it always seems to, right at the very beginning of a really great Fairy Tale! The couple had been wined and dined, cocktailed and trivia quizzed, entertained and nurtured, pandered, mothered and totally spoilt. They were meeting lots of new friends from all around the world. There were lovely people from England, Wales, Scotland, and America, travelling with them. The couple even met some 22 or more new friends from their own land down under called Oz.
They had been sailing for nine days so far. Today they were going to visit Radiant Regensburg.
The sweet (but not so young) girl with her beloved Nikon D7000, heartily vowed to try to take some of the very best photos she could on this day.
After all, she really wanted to remember this interesting little city. It was also going to be the couples very last day in Germany for many more years to come. And added to this, the sweet, not so very young girl, knew that Radiant Regensberg was quite well known for its amazingly old architecture. She also happened to know it held a rich place in European history. How did she know all this you may well ask? Well she knew it because she’d spent quite some time in the mid-morning hours quietly surfing around Google on the wonderful internet of the 21st century, just looking at many of the places they would soon be visiting.
After docking in Radiant Regensburg just after the sun had reached its highest point in the cloud filled sky that day, the happy couple quickly disembarked for their afternoon of sightseeing and info-walking. There were so many interesting things to look at….things that they simply didn’t have back in their own young country.
There were archeological diggings, stone-aged roman walls, a beautiful arched stone bridge dating back to the time of the crusades, a 900 year old sausage kitchen that smelled simply divine, and the most wonderfully ornate Gothic Dom.
Archeological Diggings, Regensburg.
Photographer living dangerously to take photos of Archeological Diggings
Well the girl with her beloved Nikon D7000 got busy taking lots of joyful happy snaps. She was most careful to try to minimize the number of people in her shots so that they looked more like the professional ones she’d seen on the Internet and in the glossy travel magazines.
In fact, she would often hang back for considerable amounts of time just waiting until the others had taken their photos and moved on again. At the very least it often took her some time to get all of her manual settings just right on her beloved camera.
Green Leaves and Horse Chestnut Blossom.
More pretty Spring Blossom.
So she was often lagging behind all of the other sprightly sightseers in her tour group. On several occasions, her concerned and kindly husband had come back to get her. He tried to warn her that she needed to hurry along and keep up with the rest!
Waiting for someone else to take a photo!
Taking a photo after the other person had finished!
But then it happened…..
The sweet, not so young girl, with her beloved Nikon D7000 turned around from taking a particularly time consuming shot and found herself all alone in Radiant Regensburg……..a city that was actually thousands and thousands of miles away from her home in the land of Oz.
“Crikey”, she thought…Where’s everyone else gone now? (She may well have said far worse than this you know! Being polite company it shall not be repeated here!)
She rushed outside but there was no one to be seen. Not even her wonderful Dearly Beloved (D.B.) They’d all suddenly vanished into the ether of the atmosphere. A whole river boat full of nomadic sightseeing tourists had gone “poof” and were now nowhere to be found!
She turned to look this way.
She turned to look that way.
Her gaze swept hurriedly up the street and down.
Ah….thankfully it wasn’t too long before she spotted a small group of tourist’s a long way up the street in front of (what was now looking to her like the most beautiful) Viking info-walk tourist guide she had ever seen. And yes…the guide was holding one of those lovely round lolly-pop signs that she recognized so well. Oh thank goodness she thought to herself, “THERE THEY ALL ARE”!
The sweet, not so young girl, rushed as fast as her little old legs could rush, as she raced along hastily to rejoin her group way up yonder on the horizon.
But something was still very wrong.
As she drew nearer the tour guide, she noticed that her audio head set was still not picking up this lovely Viking Tour guides radio signal as it should. Then suddenly it dawned on her…she realized there were no familiar faces in this group at all. No, not a one. Here she was in Radiant Regensburg such a long way from home and there was not one familiar face to be seen! Starting to panic now she knew deep inside that this was not her tour group after all.
She had to admit it.
She was lost.
She had no idea which way to go or where to start looking.
She was lost in this historic old German City of Radiant Regensburg and some thousands of miles away from her home in Oz.
But wait…..way up yonder at the other end of the street she could see some most impressive main-street looking buildings. Don’t panic she told herself resignedly. Panicking just won’t help at all.
Immediately she headed for the main street.
When she finally got there, she could see strangers everywhere. There were singles strangers, couples strangers and small groups of strangers. But sadly all appeared to be just that ….STRANGERS! Many appeared to be out and about enjoying a day’s shopping.
But there were no lovely familiar Viking Lolly Pop signs and there were absolutely no familiar Viking faces.
Adrenalin now pulsing through her body, she stooped to think…what to do?
“Ah”! She now recalled hearing that her tour groups were going to meet back at the Dom when the clock struck three!
She quickly looked at her own watch. It was now just ten minutes away from three. If only she could just find the Dom she could hopefully get back there by three o’clock and meet up with her group and her wonderful D.B. She now couldn’t wait to see his face again.
But where was the Dom? Which way to go? Surely the spires would have to be a dead giveaway. The sweet, not so young girl, scanned the horizon. But no, not a spire anywhere to be seen.
She stopped to ask a young student bear, “Excuse me kind sir, could you please tell me the way to the ornately beautiful Regensburg Dom?
Young Student Bear.
“Ah but no I cannot”, said the young bear sadly. “I’m from Munich and only here in Radiant Regensburg visiting for the day”.
“Oh no”, thought the girl with a sinking heart.
Then she saw some pretty sparkly green and gold magic gnomes. “They look wise and very kindly,” she thought to herself.
Kind Sparkly Gnomes.
She stopped to ask them, “Excuse me you pair, you look like a very wise and helpful pair of young gnomes, Could you please tell me the way to the beautiful Regensburg Dom?
“Ah but no we cannot”, replied the sparkly gnomes. “We’re from Ireland and we’re only in Regensburg visiting for one day”.
The girl’s heart sank further.
“Oh but wait”, said one of the kindly gnomes….….we do have some magic gnome dust with us.”
Magic Gnome Fairy Dust!
With a wonderful woosh and a whirl, the sparkly gnomes threw their magic glitter dust high into the air. It billowed around in a little whirlywind.
All of a sudden the girl spied the very familiar faces of a lovely Welsh couple who were also travelling on her longship.
With heart racing quickly she ran up to them.
“Hello are you with the group from our river boat sightseeing tour today she asked.”
“Why no”, they said.
“We’ve decided to just do a little of our own sightseeing and shopping today. We didn’t take the tour as we’ve both been here a few times before,” they said.
Relief flooded through the sweet girl’s veins. Surely they must know their way around.
Back to the Dom before the clock struck three!
And so all ended well. This lovely Welsh couple were able to direct the poor lost, not so young girl, right back in the direction of the Dom where she was able to rejoin her group yet again.
Strangely her D.B. appeared rather angry with her when she returned. How could he be so angry when she was now so very, very happy she wondered?
Well it turned out that he’d mistakenly thought she’d been absconded by the Gypsy’s. He’d been searching and searching and couldn’t find her anywhere.
She wondered what he thought the Gypsy’s might want with a sweet, but not so young girl? She couldn’t work that one out. Not at all!
Ah but the tale has a very happy ending as all good fairy tales do and nothing could spoil the sweet, not so young girls, deliciously happy frame of mind now that she had found everyone once more.
Well the motto of this story is obvious I think:
Never take too long to take your travel photographs for fear you may find yourself all alone and a long lost way from home!
Did you know that this is most certainly not the only Radiant Regensburg Fairy Tale ever written. I’ve recently read a news story that said there were some 500 lost Fairy Tales rediscovered in Regensburg just a couple of years ago. They’d evidently been hidden away for over 150 years. You can read all about them by clicking either of the two numbered links below. If you can read german, you can even buy a book containing many of these lost fairy tales from Amazon. For a small sample of these tales just click here: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/mar/05/turnip-princess-discovered-fairytale
Oh and lastly, I wanted to tell you all about another wonderful blogger in our blogosphere called Brenda who writes lots of lovely modern fairy tales for the whole family. Do go over and check out her blog as well. You can find out more about her at: http://friendlyfairytales.com/about-2/
After our morning’s visit to the magnificent Wurzburg Residence and a rather informative info-walk delivered by our knowledgeable tour guides, we chose to fill the rest of the day exploring on our own.
The Kapelle Pilgrim Church across the Main River.
Wurzburg (population approximately 140,000) is built on the banks of the the Main River. Its architectural style is quite different to that of the half-timbered or Fachwerk style of little Mitenberg township which we’d visited on the previous day.
Fortress Marienburg from across the Main River in Wurzburg
With a rather eccletic mix of Romanesque, Gothic, Boroque and Rococo styles along with some other rather modern architecture interspersed, we found it a small but most interesting modern day city.
The Market Square, Wurzburg.
According to Wikipedia, Wurzburg has experienced many changes. In earliest times (from about the 4th to the 7th century A.D.) it was called home by some of the Celtic race. Later there were the Franks. It was also visited by early Christian Irish Missionaries. But by about the 8th century, it had come under the rule of the Catholic Prince-Bishopry. Today, of course it is part of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Dom St Kilian in Wurzburg.
Skeleton detail over doorway to Dom St Kilian in Wurzburg
A closer look at the detail surrounding the doorway.
Along with several other German cities, Wurzburg has seen many religious, cultural and political upheavals. It is a veteran of the civil unrest associated with Napolean’s French Revolution and the Wars with the Hapsburgs. It has been witness to the cruel events related to the medieval Witch Trials. It has seen the atrocities that impacted its Jewish population during the German holocaust. Added to this, it was very extensively bombed by the British during World War 2.
Yet Wurzburg survives…..one could even say it flourishes.
Flower Shop in the Wurzburg Market Square.
Red and White roses in the Flower Shop in Wurzburg.
Today it is home to some 30,000 or so University students and it is famous for its Franconian Wine production. There are many beautiful vineyards throughout the region. We sailed past many of the grape growing areas as we travelled along the Main River. Even the Wurzburg wine bottles are famous. They are called a Bocksbeutel and have their own very distinctive shape…… a rather short neck leading down to a flattened yet bulbous looking bottom.
Dearly Beloved (D.B.) and I found it interesting just strolling the banks of the Main River. We enjoyed taking in the lovely views across to the Marienberg Fortress (built 13th century) and the Kapelle Pilgrim Church (built 18th century).
D.B. letting the jeweller know that one of the clocks on the building was showing the wrong time for Sydney Australia. It was still showing Daylight Saving time in May.
In the afternoon we made our way back into the cobbled stone centre of Wurzburg City and then spent a further couple of relaxing hours just exploring the more accessible sights of this lovely Franconian district.
Yes it was definitely a modern a modern city but it was also steeped in a long ……and at times traumatic history.
D.B. outside Marienkapelle (Chapel of St Mary), Wurzburg
Ornate timber doorway of Marienkapelle, Wurzburg
Neumunster, a Romanesque Style Cathedral in Wurzburg.