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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Day 18, April 8, River Cruising and Budapest

Strange that no matter how far from loved ones I was, I awoke thinking about my life long friend, Reba Jane.  It was her birthday.  We will be the same age till my December birthday.  Then for four months and four days I will be a year older.  But there was not much time to dwell on these thoughts as we would be climbing aboard a tour bus at 8:30 to begin our first day in Budapest.  Up and out for breakfast in the restaurant.  For some of the crew this was their last day before a two week vacation.  Nebo would leave as this is his homeland.  He is looking forward to seeing his baby.  The baby is a large dog!
Buda Castle Hill and Széchenyi Chain Bridge on the Buda side of the river

We ate breakfast as we cruised toward Budapest.  The ship docked at around 8:15.  Then it was grab cameras, headsets, and umbrellas as the skies are threatening.  Then find the lollypop and climb aboard another bus for a ride up to the Budai Várnegyed area, National Opera House and Heroe's Square.
View west toward Buda and the Fishermen's Bastion
beauty along the way

Before I go further with the day let me tell you what we learned.  Budapest was not always Budapest.  No, really.  It is Buda on the west banks of the Danube and Pest on the eastern banks.  Click here to get a better history of this area that dates back to the early Stone Age.  Gosh, I knew I felt awfully young while we were there!  Also, my gyroscope was totally off on the whole trip.  I had to look on a map to figure out the directions we were facing.  Lots of cloudy days and a slightly different angle of the sun left me clueless.  So, let's just continue on the bus tour and let the driver worry about directions.  Since this is a preview tour as we have the rest of the day and all day tomorrow to visit the city on our own, the tour covered as much as possible.

South end of Ministry building.
The driver headed out east into Pest.   Immediately we began passing beautiful old buildings with intricate embellishments.  We passed The Four Seasons that "the Hollywood movie stars use".  The Ministry Building was right next to it.   Always attentive to the needs of travelers for shopping we were shown "the" street for shopping.  Next came St. Stephen Basilica, a few more shops and the Hungarian Opera House.

St Stephen Basilica
We cruise by the House of Terror and pass Heroes Square with a nod that we will be return for a 20 minute photo op of the area.  Vajdahunyad Castle is driven by with a slow down for a photo.  In the same area is the Zoo and a city park with seasonal boats and an ice rink activities.
Terror The letters are back-
wards and missing the T

Building needing some TLC
Zoo Entrance
Heroes Square
One side from the moving bus

The 3 second photo op!
Ice rink & water park
Once finished with this loop of the places to go in Pest we are returned to the Heroes Square for leg stretching and photos.  More than just some statues to photograph as the square was surrounded with museums and interesting buildings.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Street vendors greeted us with all sorts of wares and souvenirs at reasonable prices.

Part of the heroes memorial 
Fine Arts
The Square is flanked by the Museum of Fine Arts on the left and Kunsthalle (Hall of Art) on the right.  From the square we are taken across the Danube.
Hall of Arts

Fidesz - Hungarian Civic Union

memorial to the 1956 Hungarian Revolt and War of Independence
There are just so many beautiful buildings along the way.  And more of the onion tops on the churches and other buildings.  We arrive at our destination for the last of the trip, the Castle District.  Dropped at the bottom of a small hill at the bus drop off point we walk the easy incline toward the top.

Did not climb these.
Our Lady (Matthias) Church

On the street up to the top we passed this auto and it was point out by our guide.  It is an auto from East Germany built during the Communist period.  The Trabant was made of cotton waste and phenol resins.

Then just up the street was a vintage Jag.

Slightly further I looked through an arch and captured this view.  We arrive soon at Trinity Square.  This area contains The Old Buda Town Hall, the Matthias church, Turreted Fortress and the Fisherman's Bastion.  With a drop dead view of the city.

A few exterior photos of the church and we are moved to the interior for viewing.  If you click here you can visit the inside with a point and click for info about different areas.  To enter we had to pass a guard.

From the church to the Fisherman's bastion is just a few steps.  And the view is beautiful.

I stood overlooking this area after earlier hearing of the War of Independence that failed in the 1950's.  My thoughts turned to a friend from the late 1960's, Pete Hollóházi.  He and his older brother had escaped from Hungary at that time. The brother was a teen and guided Pete across fields, etc.  I cried at the horror they must have seen ... and survived.  I had not thought of Pete in decades.  Now it was so much more real..

At the base of the statue a man dressed in medieval attire had a bird of prey. For a price he would let it sit on your shoulder.  Not something we run into in our normal life back in the states.  But this was still us in a fairy tale of a trip.

With a set time to meet our bus we began heading back down the hill.  We had passed a few shops that looked promising for souvenirs.  And we were correct as we scored paprika in a lovely can and a couple of other items.
Again, I convinced hubby to try a slightly different route for our return.  He was unsure, I had a map and was sure.  This time it worked just fine!

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At the bottom of the area the bus had not arrived so time for a couple of touristy shots.  The group decided the little cove was a good place for these type of shots.  Please, note.  That is not a red pompom on my head, just a dot on the wall!
the rock lady, petra domina

The bus arrives and is the furthest away as always!  We hop aboard and the driver returns us to the ship.  On the way back we pass Olympic rings.  More beautiful buildings and Parliament.   We arrive in time for a sumptuous lunch.  Yes, we did all this in just the morning.
 Hubby had signed up for an afternoon additional excursion.  He road through the countryside and saw the Hungarian Puszta, 'cowboys', perform.  The riders were impressive and he was full of stories when he returned.  What had struck him the most was the abject poverty of the people and villages through which the bus passed.

I stayed on board with 5, yes, 5 other people.  Curled up on the Aquivit lounge sofa with a cup of coffee, a tea cake, my tablet for writing and a blanket for more comfort.  My afternoon was delightfully relaxing!  And my sore leg appreciated no cobble stones that afternoon.

We were told when we arrived that the night view of this city was quite something to see.  I was determined to get a photo.  Around 11 pm in my jammies I sneaked up on the top deck in a drizzle and captured a couple of photos.  I'll close this post with that view.

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