Buda+Pest = Budapest

I think my biggest challenge on this (and probably on any other cruise) is to not over indulge in food and drink. I’m trying to find the balance between sticking to a healthy diet and enjoying the local cuisine. That’s not easy when the staff is constantly handing you snacks and refilling your wine glass.

Heroes’ Square

Today started with a tour of the city. It was a gray and rainy day, but the bus was warm and and the ride was pleasant. Budapest is divided by the Danube, with the hilly Buda side on the west bank and the flat Pest side on the east bank. Our ship was docked on the Pest side, so we began with a bus tour of the Pest sights. Our tour guide was a local woman (Vicky) who was born in the United States to Hungarian parents, but has lived most of her adult life in Budapest, so she was fluent in both Hungarian and English. We drove by the amazing Parliament building and the Dohány Street Synagogue, the largest synagogue in Europe. We stopped at Hero’s square and got off to take photos of the statues of the Seven Chieftans of the Magyars and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Matthias Church

On the Buda side, the bus took us to the Castle District where we entered the beautiful neo-Gothic style Matthias Church. We stayed there with our guide for a while and then had free time to roam the streets and admire the tourist traps. Back on the bus, we drove on to Visegrád where our ship was now docked and ready to serve us lunch. (more wine!) Soon after we boarded, the ship began the long sail to Vienna.

After lunch we had a safety drill that was hilarious. Everyone had to put on a life vest and report to the lounge where they did a head count and informed us that it was unlikely the boat would sink, if it did we were never far from shore, and the real danger is from fire so we shouldn’t use curling irons in the staterooms. Good to know.

A sea of orange life vests

At this point the rain had stopped and my Fit Bit was telling me I hadn’t moved enough, so I put on my coat and went up to the sun deck to do a couple hundred laps on the walking track while listening to an audio book. Then it was tea time. (more food!)

After tea, we sat through a long lecture and slide show about the cafe culture in Vienna and about Mozart’s life. This was to prepare us for tomorrow’s excursions in Vienna. It was a little boring and we were seated right by the bar, but I avoided the temptation to get another drink. We had about 15 minutes after the lecture to change for dinner. When we returned to the lounge, we were handed glasses of champagne and had the official welcome to the ship and introduction to the staff. We met a lovely couple from Oklahoma who went with us to dinner where we were joined by the couple from Virginia whom we met last night. We feasted on Chateaubriand and our wine glasses were magically refilled throughout the evening. The conversation was lively, mostly about American football, a topic I’ve had decades of experience feigning interest in.

Tomorrow we dock in Vienna at around 9:00 am. Paul and I had only one day in Vienna, so we’ll be happy to return.