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.
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!
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.