• Day19

    Buda and Pest... (A Tale of Two Cities)

    October 3, 2017 in Hungary ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    (busy couple of days and did not find much time for blogging. Currently at the airport on our way to Amsterdam and have some downtime)

    Today we woke up and were still sailing so there was no need to rush off for breakfast. I got dressed around 7:45 and went out to the top deck by myself to enjoy an early morning coffee. It was a very brisk morning and it woke me up quite quickly. The boat was just passing the final borders of Slovakia while I was up there. Headed downstairs for a leisurely breakfast and everyone else started to trickle in.

    The boat was set to arrive into Budapest around 11:30, so we had some time to relax / get a bit organized in our packing for tomorrow. After a bit of organizing in the room, Brooke and I took a much needed chillax moment and played some Pokémon together ☺️

    Closer to 11:00 we went over to the lounge and found Brett, Rae, and Mom. Turns out we missed a strudel making demonstration by one of the chefs. Mom said it was pretty cool, but that's all right, we can't do everything. There were still two pieces left so we got to taste it anyways.

    As we were nearing Budapest we went up to the top deck to take in the views of the city. The cruise manager Ibi who is from Budapest was on the mic pointing out everything and explaining some of the history. Then as we turned the corner to view the Parliament building, they had one of the butlers, Sandor, saber a bottle of champagne with a sword to commemorate our arrival. It was very cool! There was also blue prosecco for all the guests for the blue Danube. The view of the parliament building in Budapest is truly stunning! It is such a majestic building and is the centrepiece of the city.

    We went downstairs for a quick lunch. They were serving some classic Hungarian dishes as well as fresh cooked mussels! A lot of people know that I avoid shrimp mostly I've had a sensitivity in the past (last time was in Venice 6 years ago and it did not end well). Earlier this year in St. John's at the Brier I tried mussels and it sat perfectly fine. So I thought "all right, fresh cooked mussels, I can eat them, and they're free!" So I proceeded to demolish a bowl and a half of mussels (along with goulash).

    Our afternoon tour started right after lunch at 1:15. It was a bus tour through the city with a couple of stops. Our guides name was Erika and she was delightful, had been doing tours since the 80s during the communist era. Our first stop was the west side of the city in Buda up on the hill at the Matthias church. It was beautiful inside and was a much different style of church. Our guide said that there was more of a mosque influence in the decor due to when it was constructed and the geographic location of Hungary. It reminded me of the mosque in Istanbul. The roof of the church was also pretty with a porcelain mosaic type of look.

    Afterwards the tour went out onto the Fisherman's Basttion which was essentially a panoramic look out point. It was slightly foggy out but the view was still great. Our guide mentioned that there have been 4 separate people who have died here this year from falling over the ledge, all Asians (she said they have been due to selfie sticks).

    Next we had some spare time and took a stroll into one of the grocery stores so the girls could buy some paprika. Our guide told us "this is where the locals buy their paprika". Turns out later that we figured out that Mom, Rae, and Brooke got slightly hosed there.

    While Brooke was in line waiting to pay for the paprika, my stomach turned upside down. Uh oh! Maybe I shouldn't have had the mussels.....? Sweating bullets and looking around for a bathroom, I'm getting nervous. I get a moment of reprieve, but then need to find a WC stat. Brooke saves the day and guides me to a cafe she spotted earlier. Long story short, crisis averted, but I don't think I am over my shellfish sensitivity.

    We got back on the bus and toured around the city some more and went over to the Pest side. It was interesting to hear Erika talk about all of her experiences during the soviet era. We did make one more stop at Heroes Square, but it was really starting to rain. Didn't spend that much time there, it is a bunch of statues of the important kings and leaders in Hungarian history.

    Back on the boat we unwound and got showered and changed for dinner. Went up to the lounge for 6:00 because they had a master pianist on board to play a short concert. His name was Balazs Bakos and was a Hungarian native. He was truly masterful at the piano and it was mesmerizing watching his hands move, especially the final number where his hands were literally a blur and moving too fast for the human eye. Mom thought it was incredible. The most unfortunate part was the crowd that he was playing for. There is no guarantee that everyone there will want to listen and appreciate the music that is being played. So much so that it was quite noisy at times with chatter and laughter.

    We went down to the dining hall for our final dinner on the ship. We were in a bit of a rush to finish dinner since the ship was going to be sailing up and down Budapest at night. Dinner was a pork tenderloin (we think) and I actually only had one dessert this time. Brooke even had to order her cheese plate to go because we rushed over to our room to bundle up for going up top during the evening.

    Budapest is lit up beautifully at night with all the major sights and bridges brightly lit. The grand piece was the parliament building again. I could sit and view the building for hours and the pictures we took in no way do it justice.

    The two of us were the last in our group to stay up top enjoying the scenery. Eventually "Missouri" came up as well. This was one of the passengers that we have been laughing at and making fun of the entire trip. He's an obese American who has been drunk the entire time on the boat (so much so that we saw his wife bring him coffee and water in the morning likely due to a headache). Anyways, Missouri comes up to the top deck after we had passed all the major sights, already turned around, and were in the University district. He pulls out his iPad, starts filming the scenery, points at the university building and says "well.....there's parliament". The two of us die with internal laughter and Brooke was uncontrollable and had to press her face into my chest and pretend to be cold. It's impossible not laugh at American tourists when they demonstrate that level of ignorance.

    We spent the remainder of our final evening on the ship in the lounge enjoying the cocktails and discussing a plan for Budapest tomorrow. The four of us kids literally closed down the lounge while we were just chatting away. Even the bartender said goodnight to us.

    We will miss our time on the river cruise, but it will be nice to depart and be more active.

    Tyler and Brooke
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