Magnificent Europe River Cruise: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

Budapest is actually a uniting of two cities–Buda and Pest–each bordering the Danube River and connected by a series of bridges. Buda represents the ancient with its magnificant hill setting,featuring an enormous palace that is part of the Buda Castle and the medieval district where the Matthias Church stands. Pest is the grandiose area of public buildings and Parisian-stye boulevards that reflect the growing political self-confidence of the metropolis after the two cities became united in 1873.

The cruise sponsored a bus tour that brought us to the highlights of both “cities,” including Cathedral Hill  in Buda and Hero’s Square in Pest.

Hero's Square, commemorating ________

Hero’s Square, built in 1896 to mark the thousand-year history of Hungary

Cathedral Hill, an upscale area with fabulous view of the city below

Cathedral Hill, an upscale area with fabulous views of the city below

The highlight for me was a tour of the Opera House—it is beautiful almost beyond words. And, as a highlight, we were treated to a private performance with champagne!

operahouse

interior

singer

Baritone “serenading” us with a piece from Carmen, and the “drinking song” from La Traviata as we toasted with champagne

The ticket prices are minimal compared to what we pay in San Francisco—the most expensive seat in the house is about 80 euros and box seats begin at 27 Euros! We were really tempted…maybe next trip.

Then we walked on our own for a bit and checked out the Great Market Hall. It’s a huge three-story year-round indoor marketplace where one can buy everything from food to drink, from clothing to jewelry to souvenirs.

Great Hall Market

Great Market Hall, built in the late 1890a. Damaged during both World Wars, it was brought back to its original splendor in the 1990s.

Great Hall Market--three-story building with produce on main level, fish and meat in the lower level, and clothing/gift items on the second level--all at very good prices

Inside the Great Hall Market–three-story building with produce,nuts, wine and such on main level; fish, poultry, and meat in the lower level; and clothing/gift items on the second level–all at very good prices

We returned to the ship to prepare for disembarkation and to say good-bye to our shipmate-friends from Australia and the UK. It had been a wonderful, unforgettable voyage of discovery and camaraderie.

On to the next part of our adventure: two more days in Budapest, then trains to Prague, Vienna, and Munich….

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