In 2014, we were approached by our longtime friends, Keith and Fran MacLeod, as to whether we would like to accompany them, along with Fran's sister-in-law Trudy and Trudy's sister Carol, on a river boat tour up the Danube from Budapest to Prague in 2015. As we already had such a trip on our "Bucket List", I quickly replied, "Count us in"! Arrangements were made through the Toronto CAA travel representative and we departed on the 19th of September, arriving in Budapest on the 20th.

The tour was hosted by Avalon Waterways, a highly rated river boat excursion company. I have decided to use their description of the tour and daily excursions as taken from their detailed web site.

First, a map of the tour, and then Avalon's description:



"13 Day River Cruise from Budapest to Prague"

"The delightful Danube sets the stage for this incredible journey as you sail through beautiful scenery and quaint towns. Begin in Budapest, Hungary, with two overnights and guided sightseeing. Enjoy Hungarian cuisine, explore its famous produce market—Central Market Hall, wander around the former royal palace grounds, explore its famous churches, or visit one of the many museums. Then, board your river cruise vessel and sail westward, with guided sightseeing in magical Vienna, Passau, and medieval Regensburg. Also take a guided walk in the charming town of Dürnstein and see the baroque Stiftskirche, and visit the awe-inspiring Benedictine Abbey in Melk. Enjoy wine tasting in Melk and beer tasting in fascinating Regensburg. Disembark your ship and travel to the “Golden City” of Prague for a final three overnights, guided sightseeing, and plenty of free time to discover the Hradcany Castle grounds, wander through Prague’s Jewish Quarter, shop for hand-cut crystal, savor authentic Czech dumplings, stand in the square where protesters demonstrated against Communism, or visit one of the many churches. All of this and more await you on this marvelous vacation!"


The following are links to go directly to any of the 9 pages covering our expedition. Each has a few hints as to what is on that page. Just click on the underlined page and number.

Page One (this page): Exploring Budapest

Page Two: Budapest, then embarkation on our tour boat

Page Three: Boat excursion to Vienna. Lipizzaner stallions, Viennese Concert.

Page Four: Dürnstein–Melk; Benedictine Abbey

Page Five: Passau

Page Six: Regensburg, Beer tasting, Shipboard entertainment c/w Keith dancing/percussion

Page Seven: Nuremberg; onboard lecture regarding the main Danube Canal

Page Eight: Nuremberg (Disembarkation), bus to Prague, Czech Republic

Page Nine: TheTerezin Memorial; Dinner and Folklore Show, exploring Prague, homeward bound

And now daily descriptions (including my comments which are of questionable accuracy concerning Where and When), and accompanying photos:


"Day 1 (20 Sept) Arrive in Budapest, Hungary"

"Welcome to Budapest, Hungary’s lively capital spanning the banks of the Danube. The remainder of the day is free to start exploring Eastern Europe’s most cosmopolitan metropolis."



InterContinental Hotel Budapest patio


Our first Hungarian dinner, at our hotel



The night view from the hotel patio.

The impressive white structure across the Danube is the Buda Castle, the historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings in Budapest completed in1265.


The hotel overlooks the Danube with a set of light rail tracks and a public walkway in the foreground. In the background is the historic Chain Bridge (More info later).


We set out for a first evening exploratory stroll.


What an inviting promenade!


"Day 2 (21 Sept) Budapest"

"Whether you’re seeing the sights, shopping for handcrafted embroidery or Herend porcelain, or basking in the coffee house culture over a rich cream cake in the renowned Gerbeaud Café, Budapest’s unique energy is positively palatable. On your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR, see Heroes’ Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex with its remarkable Fishermen’s Bastion—for spectacular views of the city—and 11th-century Matthias Church, the coronation spot of several Hungarian monarchs. Be sure to take note of the city’s eight bridges—many famous sights in and of themselves—which connect ancient Buda on the right bank with Pest on the left. You may even want to walk across Chain Bridge, built in 1849 and a symbol of Budapest."

This very appealing and realistic statue was located just in front of our hotel patio.


A day view of the Buda Castle from the patio. Tour boats line the Danube in parking lot fashion.


Carol's photo of our weary male tourists quenching their thirst.



The following are photos taken on our bus tour of Budapest.




Argh! Reflections!!!









Note the stark message generated by the shadow near the roof of the building, aptly named:

The House of Terror



Budapest Zoo


Budapest Circus



Believe it or not, this becomes a skating rink in winter in downtown Budapest!



A memorial to those who suffered and died under Communist rule - subtle, yet powerful.





 The Ethnographic Museum


"Reflections" of the Hungarian Parliament Building


Classic Hungarian Post Box




A hospital was Tunnelled into the Rock below



Map of the Budapest Museum complex.






Weird Clock!



 The following are photos taken at their parliament building complex.


A crow with a symbolic golden ring in its beak.



What a View! 




This wall is over 2,000 years old!


The Chain Bridge


It's called a 'chain', but the structure is actually a series of flat steel plates, very strong.


A plaque commemorating the architect of the Chain Bridge.


This structure is called, simply, "Keith", but he may have a bridge.


The Budapest Castle Hill Funicular


Statue of Jozsef Eotvos, 19th century Political Writer


"Hungary" tourists


Carol's camera snaps a toasting.



Interesting dishes; tasty too!





Click here to get to page 2 as we board our boat, the MS Avalon Expression

To view the Stephansons' 'Home' web page, click here