Our arrival in Budapest signaled the second portion of our incredible journey that started with our flight to Paris on October 8th. That’s because we were about to board our first ever River Cruise on the Viking Tor (changed to the Viking Var but more on that later) and had 26 other friends join us on the cruise!
I wrote about our troubled train journey in a prior post, and I’ll add now that our first impression of Budapest was not good. The area around the train station was very run down, and the Bolt ride over to The Prestige Hotel didn’t show much better. But the area around the hotel was very nice and the views around this city are unsurpassed (at least until we got to Prague!).
As I noted above there were 28 of us total meeting for the river cruise and for future records they were: Scott & Leslie; our core cruise friends Dominick Yazzi, Rich Simonette, Joe Ridky and Craig Douglas; Leslie’s sister Kelly and her husband Pat who we are very close to; Leslie’s bestie from high school Sara; longtime Reno friends (and ex-neighbors mentioned in many other posts) Ruthie + Jim Garaventa and Steve + Julia Rubin; their friends Joe and Nancy from Virginia; Chuck and Sandy from Reno; Noam (the owner of the travel agency Leslie works at and a very close friend) plus his parents and a couple travelling with them; Paul + Holly Simonette; Darrell +Nancy Frisse, good friends from Albequrque who we met on a cross Atlantic cruise a few years, and Gene-Jaques + Mary who are friends of the Frisses.
Many of the above were staying at the same hotel as us and we met for a quick dinner the evening we arrived. But as everyone had just traveled it was an early evening. The next morning Leslie, Kelly, Pat and I walked across the famous chain bridge and around the Pest side of the river before going back to our hotel prior to a walking food tour scheduled for that evening.
There were 15 of us split into two groups who did the food tour and most walked the mile and a half to get there. It started at a fabulous market that used to be a customs building on the edge of the river. Hundreds of stalls selling all kinds of foods, and we had some interesting tastings of a variety of Paprika and cured meats. From there we went all over the place seeing many interesting areas and food locations, especially a food truck area and a “bar court”. Much like small food court only with bars instead of eateries. After a very, very long and active day and we still had an evening river sightseeing trip planned! Exhausted as we were we went anyway and saw some truly great night time views of the city.
The next day was mine and Leslie’s 33rd Wedding Anniversary and we celebrated by boarding the cruise ship in the late morning. I will post on the overall cruise experience in my next post, followed by a separate post covering the excursion highlights from the ship.
While we had a another day and a half in Budapest after boarding the ship I will cover those later. For now I will note that we very much enjoyed our time in the city as we have so far every city we have visited.