Saturday, April 27-Day 8
Our ship, the Idun, docked in Budapest in the early hours of the morning. It still amazes me how the helmsman can raft our ship to another without us feeling the slightest bump.
Today was a very busy day for the staff. Many people (about 150 out of 186) were disembarking, leaving about 34 of us on board. We were to be joined by new passengers later in the day, to swell the ship to its capacity.
After breakfast, our bus took us on a city tour. My goodness, what a beautiful place Budapest is. From our vantage point on the river, we could see both the Buda and the Pest sides. If you were unenlightened, like me before we came on the trip, you may not have known there were two parts to the city.
Budapest is known as the “Pearl Of The Danube” and is the home to about 1.7-2 million people. Our Welsh ancestors, the Celts first established a town here, before the Romans ever came. The city was/is located on the Danube but also at a cross-roads between eastern and western Europe. Most people here are Catholics, Calvinists or Lutherans.
Our city tour took us first to the Pest (say Pesht) side. We traveled along Andrassy Ut, the Champs-Élysées of Budapest. What a beautiful boulevard it is, with the Opera House to one side and the Franz Liszt square on the other. It took us to Heroes’ Square, which was also flanked by the Museum of Fine Arts.
While we were wandering on the square, a huge parade of fire trucks and police vehicles of all shapes and sizes came down Andrassy Ut towards the square and us. It must have been Emergency Services Day, for each one of the trucks, vans, motorbikes etc had its siren and lights going full bore. The little kids on the square loved it!
The City Park area behind the square was the home of a man made lake (in summer) and a massive skating area in winter. It also house the Budapest zoo.
From the Pest side, our bus then took us to the Buda side which is home of the castle fortress. The Pest side was also very flat and the centre of commerce of the city, while the Buda side is more hilly and has more residential areas. We visited the beautiful church of St. Mathias , where every square inch of the interior is hand painted with some pattern or portrait.
We left the church and fortress and descended back to the river bank, over the Elizabeth bridge and to the ship for lunch.
New guests had begun to arrive and were familiarising themselves with the lay-out of the ship while their rooms were being finished.
We relaxed for a while, then Don and I went walkabout downtown while Cynthia and Lynore remained aboard. We found a beautiful square just one block back from the river and it was all pedestrian traffic only. People relaxed at small cafes and terraces in the sunshine, street artists performed. The atmosphere was relaxed and enjoyable. Later, Cynthia and I visited the same area as we’d heard there was a bank machine in the square which dispensed Euros. We found it and got some.
At dinner we met Bill and Gloria, a couple from Minnesota and spent an enjoyable couple of hours with them.
Finally, a walk on deck finished off a good day as we absorbed the beauty of Budapest lit up at night. It’s a gorgeous scene, night or day and a city which I’d like to re-visit some day.
Goodbye for now and God bless.