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:
"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 marketCentral 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 Pragues 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: DürnsteinMelk; 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:
"Welcome to Budapest, Hungarys lively capital spanning the banks of the Danube. The remainder of the day is free to start exploring Eastern Europes most cosmopolitan metropolis."
InterContinental Hotel Budapest patio
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 youre 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, Budapests unique energy is positively palatable. On your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR, see Heroes Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex with its remarkable Fishermens Bastionfor spectacular views of the cityand 11th-century Matthias Church, the coronation spot of several Hungarian monarchs. Be sure to take note of the citys eight bridgesmany famous sights in and of themselveswhich 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.
Note the stark message generated by the shadow near the roof of the building, aptly named:
The House of Terror
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.
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
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
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