Day 03 - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - City Tour of Budapest; Fisherman's Bastion; Matthias Church; Optional Jewish Heritage Tour
After a great night’s sleep, we had a fantastic buffet breakfast and then prepared for our day to explore Budapest. The temperature was 57° and humidity was 85 %; we went back to the room to get our rain gear! If we bring it all, we might have a little sun today.
Our boat was docked Pest side of the Danube River, moored between the Liberty Bridge and the Elisabeth Bridge. We are at the outer dock and when we get off of our ms River Splendor, we have to walk through the boat docked right at the pier. Cozy!
The dot system of dividing the groups worked very well. There are four groups of about forty people each and four color coded buses each with a tour director. Our “yellow dot” group is with Bogdan Curea as our guide and Stephan as our driver.
Andrea, our city guide joined us on the bus and gave us a bit of the war-torn history of Hungary. As this is our second time visiting Budapest we were able to recognize most of the major landmarks. Getting to know a European capital is always an adventure and we learned many things we did not know from our first trip in 2010.
The highlight of today’s city tour was the City Center and the many monuments and buildings remaining from the Hungarian Expo in 1896 that celebrated the 1000 birthday of the city.
When we reached the Castle District on the Buda side of the river, we enjoyed retracing our steps to the Fisherman’s Bastion and visiting St. Matthias Church. Having the headsets and transmitter made it possible to hear Andrea’s commentary while we wandered on our own taking pictures.
St. Matthias Church was being restored the last time we visited the city and today we were amazed at the beautiful colored roof tiles, and the exquisite decorations in the inside of the church.
We had until 11:45 before we had to walk back to the bus parking area. We climbed on the ramparts of the Fisherman’s Bastion and looked in a few of the shops. The main products of the country are the famous Herend Porcelain, paprika, hand made lace and embroidery, painted wooden eggs, and Hungarian dolls.
Back on the ship at 12:15, we decided to skip the big lunch and we went to the Captain’s Club where they offered a small café area for soup, sandwiches, and salad. The local specialties of the day were stuffed cabbage rolls and goulash! We are in Hungary!
The optional tour to the Jewish Heritage Center began at 2:00. This was a rainbow event, as all of the people who signed up all went on the same bus, no matter their color group.
About 30 of us went back to the Pest City Center and visited the largest Synagogue in Europe, and the second largest in the world. Our guide from the Jewish Heritage Center was Ildiko who told us all about the rich, ornate temple built in 1859.
We visited the memorial gardens where mass graves for 3000 people who died in 1945 and were buried after the liberation of Budapest by the Russians. A moving tribute to the Holocaust was the Emanuel Tree, an aluminum weeping willow tree sculpture with the names of Hungarian Jews killed inscribed on each leaf.
After two hours visiting the synagogue, the gardens, and the museum, we thanked our guide and driver then came back to the boat to prepare the pictures and the journal. We got ready for the dress up Captain’s Welcome Dinner and went to the Lounge for the port talk about tomorrow’s activities.
The Captain introduced his 47 person crew, many that we have already met on our first day of the cruise. The dinner was very good, but eating a five course meal does take a lot of time. We were lucky to have four interesting table companions so the time went quickly.
By 9:15 we were back in our room finishing the journal. At midnight the ship sailed for Kalocsa, the famous center for paprika growing and production where we will spend the day tomorrow.
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner ---- ms River Splendor
Depart Budapest, Hungary - Midnight
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