Gene and I flew into this city on the evening of December 22nd. Viking River Cruises picked us up, along with a few others, and took us to our ship. Almost immediately after arriving at the ship we went to dinner. And so began the enormous amount of food I would consume that week. Lunch and dinner, if desired, were three course meals each. And one could make it more than three courses if he desired to have multiple options from a course. Meals were definitely an experience for me.
After dinner that first night we walked to a Christmas market. By the time we got there it was starting to shut down but it was still nice to just browse. We spent the entire next day in Budapest. We had a tour in the morning where we got to see the older parts of the city. This was the beginning of a world filled with many beautiful buildings and history I either never learned or have forgotten. At one point in the tour we were taken up a hill where we got a fantastic view of the city. We got a tour of a church and then had an hour of free time to wander around.
The church was quite beautiful; of course most churches in Europe are, but this one was a bit different. It wasn’t really in the baroque style like most of the places we visited were. I really liked the detail inside the church; the patterns on the columns and the ceiling were my favorite. They were simple but put together they made a lovely sight. The colors were muted but varied.
After visiting the church we meandered outside where we were greeted with a lovely view of the city. Although it was a foggy day it kind of made the view magical. The city below looked so quiet and peaceful. We explored the nearby area before heading back to the bus. There was a fancy statue in the middle of the little square and underneath it stood two falconers. They each had a falcon with them and one could take a picture with it for a fee. The birds were magnificent but I never saw one person take up the offer.
On our way back to the bus, Lydia and I stopped in a bakery. The thing that I found the most interesting was that there were cookies, I believe gingerbread, or something similar, that had mirrors in them. Little mirrors placed in the center and around the cookie. I had never seen anything like that before. Lydia ended up buying a small one and a few other goodies before we headed back to the bus.
The bus dropped us off at the ship and we had some lunch before strolling around Budapest some more. First we walked to an indoor market. It sold both produce, meat, and touristy goods. Martha and Ben bought some paprika, which is very popular in Budapest (I believe they discovered it?). The market was huge and had three floors. It was crowded too but still fun to look around.
Then we went to the opera house of Budapest and taking a tour. It is said that this opera house could not be built larger than the one in Austria so to make up for that the architects made the inside more beautiful than the one in Austria. It was a very pretty building. We got to sit in the original chairs and take a peek at the special balcony rooms for the rich and fancy. We went into a smoking hall and a parlor and saw the grand staircase that the royal family walked up. There was a huge mirror at the top of the stairs because the royalty were not allowed to move their head so this way they could see where they were walking and not trip. The tour ended with a brief show, a man sang us a couple opera songs.
After that, Gene, Lydia, and I went to a Christmas market while the others went back to the ship. This market was in full swing and was much larger than the one we went to the previous night. There were many cool things to look at but I only ended up buying a few beeswax pigs with coins stuck in them. I got them for myself and my coworkers. There were many other items I found cute and interesting but I kept thinking to myself, “I could probably make that,” so I didn’t buy anything else.
I’d like to mention how beautiful all these cities and towns were with the Christmas lights they had up. Once darkness moved in, the lights were turned on and it was always such a lovely sight. Lights were strung between buildings and many places even had Christmas trees. I’m glad I was able to go at this time of year to see all the wonderful decorations.
We had dinner on the ship after that and then hung around in Lydia and Dave’s room. We played a game called Say Anything and then I happily went to sleep.
Click here to see my public Google+ album of the trip.