Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Viking's Grand European River Cruise: Budapest, Hungary

Viking River Cruise, Day 14:  Budapest, Hungary (Facebook collage)
(click any collage to enlarge)

Our very last full day on our very grand European river cruise was spent in Budapest, Hungary, the Good Friday before Easter Sunday.  As you'll shortly see, we awakened to a rainy day...for the duration.  But thankfully for Astrid and me, after disembarking the next day following breakfast, we had four more full days on our own to hope for sun.  But that's getting ahead of myself.

Budapest:  The capital of Hungary, affectionately called "the little Paris of Central Europe" and the "Pearl of the Danube."  With almost 1.7 million people, it's the largest city of the country.

It so happens we were docked right next to the Chain Bridge on the Pest side of the Danube.
The city used to be 3 cities:  Buda and Obuda on the right bank and Pest on the left/East bank.
Now the Danube separates the merged cities, with the Buda and Pest sides of the river.
Across the river from us, on the Buda side, was the Royal Palace (Buda Castle), in plain view (top image).

Like most other days, we hopped on coaches after breakfast to start a city tour.
I wasn't kidding about the rain!

First stop was Heroes' Square, with its Millenium Memorial from 1900, on the Pest side of the city.

It's one of Budapest's major squares because of 2 art museums nearby:  
the Kunsthalle and the Museum of Fine Art.

Back on the bus, we drove to the Buda side of the city...the old-city side...in Buda's Castle District,
and first saw the bullet-damaged former Ministry of War.
Most of the bullet holes are from WWII but some are from the 1956 Soviet Uprising.
The building remains empty as a reminder...?  Lest we forget!

Once out of the bus again, we were on a mission to see 2 major sights/sites,
and, while walking, passed everything Budapest!

In fact, if you don't go to them, they come to you!  
It's a way of life...and we are tourists, their guests, of course.

The Matthias Church was our first main site to visit, originally built in 1015.

Look at those colored roof tiles!  And that short entrance door!
And, oh, yes, we still had snow.

But inside...  O.M.G.  
I call this the "Tattooed Church."  Seriously.

Almost every square inch is painted!

See what I mean?!

Remember, this was Good Friday.
Was this over-flow seating being set up for Easter Sunday?

It so happens the church is in front of the Fisherman's Bastion at the heart of the Buda Castle District...

...so, just a few steps away, we were at our second main site of the day.
Fisherman's Bastion is basically a terrace with towers and staircases, built in 1902.

It's a viewing terrace...with incredible views of the city on both sides of the river.
In later posts I'll be show-n-telling more of these sights.  This is the appetizer...even on a rainy day!

Because it was nearby, Astrid and I walked over to the Royal Palace/Buda Castle, from 1265.
We had already seen the river-front view (bottom image above).  This was the back side.

Impressions.  Impressions.  Impressions.
All before getting on the buses and heading back to the boat for lunch.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

And because it was raining, and we knew we had 4 more full days to sight-see, we stayed on the boat for the remainder of the day.  Besides, we needed to rest up before the Hungarian Folkloric Show that evening after dinner, right there on the boat:

And what a show it was!

Lots of talent and humor!

If I counted right, there were 10 of them, all musicians.
Don't you know they must have fun performing for us old geezers!
I wonder what they say afterwards?  HA!

Thus ended the last full, official day of our Viking Grand European River Cruise.  We had breakfast onboard the next morning, Saturday, before heading off on our own.  

Wish me luck, now, as I try to organize those last 4 days in Budapest, on our own schedule. 
See you soon....


  1. what a grand cruise with all those amazing ports of call. you were all churched-out but the churches were all grandiose, this one included. i don't know how you managed to sort out your photos so quickly.

    1. Now you know why we call it the trip of a lifetime, Maria! It really was. We'll never forget it. I must say that working on the images has been a full-time job for me. Seriously. It's been very important to me to get it done and recorded. I know what happens if I don't stick with it! But thank you very much. You've been part of our fan club the entire way.

  2. A tattooed church..... indeed the right word. A bit overwhelming, maybe because I had seen so many churches. Amazing set of pictures again. We did have a lot of rain that day and I was glad that I could be the help with the umbrella...
    The music was a great joy, a nice last night and then farewell to our companions.
    You did a great job, putting all these collages together.
    Love the Red Viking umbrellas, nobody got lost...

    1. It wasn't until I started processing these images, MLMA, that I realized how "tattooed" this church looked. It was crazy. Almost psychedelic! And yes, one thing to say about the rain is that the red Viking umbrellas made great images! :) Hartstikke bedankt.

  3. The painted church was so incredible that I would go to Budapest just to see it. Amazing. Great job on this, Ginnie.

    1. I know what you mean, Mary. I'm sure that's why Viking chose it for our excursion! Thank you.

  4. The muted colors on a rainy day are cozy and warm. What a city, one I had never thought of visiting, but you've changed my mind. Wonderful!

    1. There's something to be said for rainy days and photography, Ruth. As long as it's not raining when I'm taking the pictures, I'm better than fine with the rain! :) And wait till you see everything else I'll be showing. I had no clue!

  5. What a great ending to an outstanding cruise! The history in the buildings is overwhelming. I bet the music must have been so wonderful to listen to - I love Hungarian dances. I enjoyed your trip immensely – thanks for taking us along.

    1. It's been totally my pleasure, Vagabonde, of course. Thank you. And even though the cruise part is done, the actual trip still has a few more posts of our time in Budapest. I'm so glad we stayed on!