Ahhhhh Budapest… the city that positively glows! (part 2)

I left off on my previous post having just visited Buda Castle we took a walk around the cobblestone streets of Castle Hill, here is another place we could have spent so much more time and only skimmed the surface by not actually buying admission or taking tours of the various things to see here.  Next time…

A few of the things to see here aside from the Fisherman’s Bastion and the Matthias church are the Castle Labyrinth, a museum dedicated to Harry Houdini, the Hospital in the Rock and more.  I know the Matthias church and Fisherman’s Bastion are the big attractions here and what you always see in photos.  I know that you will be wondering why I don’t have photos, this tour was to see things that would not be covered with our AmaWaterways tour and their tour covers these things so this part of Budapest will be revisited.

 

 

Our next stop was Gellert Hill and the Liberty Statue that can be seen prominently up on top.  According to Gabriella the locals call it the bottle opener and generally find it a tacky remainder from the communist era…I searched all over for a liberty statue bottle opener, after learning this bit of trivia but was unsuccessful, I think someone could make a nice profit on those!  More stunning panoramas were to be found up here and in one of them we got our first glimpse of the AmaSonata, the ship we would be boarding tomorrow.

 

 

While at Gellert Hill we visited the Cave Church followed by the Gallert Baths, for a quick peek and to have a light lunch in their cafe.  The Baths are just beautiful and as I mentioned before I want to try one of them when we visit again.  The views of the Danube and Pest are beautiful here even at the base of Gellert Hill.

 

 

So it’s winter and the days are short, it probably looks like it is getting late but there are still a few hours left in the tour and a few more things to see.  We headed to see parliament,  there we saw the bullet holes from the 1956 uprising and witnessed a spectacular sunset.  Nearby, we also saw the  very beautiful monument to Imre Nagy, the Hungarian Prime Minister during the 1956 revolution against the Soviet Union that ended with him being executed for treason.  We also saw the US embassy (which is surrounded by ugly fences these days) and the Weeping Willow holocaust monument at the Dohany Street Synagogue.  I even got to get my photo with President Ronald Reagan, well sadly, just a bronze statue erected in his honor.

 

 

We also got to see the very controversial new memorial to the 1944 Nazi occupation of Hungary, many people (including our guide Gabriella) see it as falsely portraying Hungary as an innocent party to the holocaust, when they were allied with Germany during the war.

 

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On a more lighthearted note,  by now it is almost completely dark so we are heading back to the Pest side of the Danube to visit the Opera House, the Christmas Market at the Basilica and then a visit to a less touristy place, Gabriella’s favorite bookstore and a place she goes when she is not showing off her beautiful city.  The Opera House is just beautiful, ornate but with tile mosaic floors patterned after those found at the Roman ruins of Aquincum.

 

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Almost to the end of the day!  We parted ways with Gabriella until tomorrow, it was time for dinner at Rezkakas Bistro and some rest….well rest after a second visit to the Christmas markets, both at the basilica  and Vorosmarty Square and a walk along the Danube back to the Intercontinental.

Rezkakas Bistro is a short walk from the Intercontinental and had good food but it was pricey.

 

 

Budapest at night is breathtaking, the Christmas markets sparkle and the buildings along the Danube glow.

 

 

I will try to wrap up Budapest with one more post, we will see how that goes….

 

 

 

Danube Christmas Markets with AmaWaterways December 2016. The adventure getting there!

After many long months of planning….

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I decided to set up a group for this cruise after doing a similar cruise on AmaWaterways’ AmaPrima in 2014, more than a year out I held space for the December 5th sailing onboard the AmaSonata, requested the cruise director  (and new friend) from the 2014 cruise, Rachel and began looking for fellow travelers.  I eventually ended up with five additional travelers in addition to my husband and myself, a small group I know,  but this was my first time undertaking such an endeavor.  Little did we know just how much fun we would have, well maybe we had an idea!

When your best laid plans are derailed by yet another strike…..   

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Yes, this is us just departing MCO and just late enough that we will miss our connection in FRA.  

I should have learned my lesson in 2014 when we nearly had our trip interrupted by a Lufthansa strike.  The thing is, Lufthansa has the best schedules from our home airport to that part of Europe and they had a great rate when booked with Ama for their premium economy so we decided to give them another chance, we would not be so lucky this time.  Fast forward to December 2nd A.K.A departure day, Lufthansa’s pilots have been on strike for over a week now but has just ended, oh good I think, we will be fine!  Not so fast, lingering delays as a result of the strike pushed the incoming flight from Germany out several hours or just long enough that we would not make our connection.  At least the flight in Premium economy was relatively comfortable.

 

Despite there being multiple flights from FRA to BUD we could only get seats on the last departure of the night. What this meant, was nine long hours sitting in FRA and arriving into BUD at nearly midnight instead of the midday arrival we had planned, but at least FRA is a really nice airport for being stranded in and we were given enough vouchers to have a nice German dinner at one of the best airport restaurants I have eaten at.

So, we did our nine hours in purgatory and finally departed for our destination, Budapest!  We made it to our hotel sometime after midnight, this long anticipated trip could finally begin in earnest.