Danube cruise, Budapest

Gordon and I took off from LAX for our Viking Danube cruise. The first leg was a two hour flight to Portland. We had a two-hour layover there then it was on to Amsterdam. That flight took ten hours–God! I worried about deep vein thrombosis stuffed in a seat between Gordon and a fat woman. I watched three bad movies–glad I didn’t pay for them–and slept a bit. We had another short layover in Amsterdam while we waited to be assigned seats for the flight to Budapest–I hadn’t known we were flying standby on that leg; if I had I’d’ve probably panicked. As it was I was too tired to get upset about anything. We were separated but we got seats. It was only an 1 1/2 hour flight and I dozed so it wasn’t a problem. Our luggage even made it so I was pleased. Viking personnel met us at the airport in Budapest and bussed us to our boat.  We checked in, took a nap, and signed up for a short city walking tour of the Pest side of Budapest. The tour was interesting even though we didn’t go into any buildings; we just got an overview so we’d know what to look at on our own time. The guide discussed the architecture and history of the city; she really got worked up about the “brutal” architecture erected by the Communists. She hated the buildings–they were ugly and didn’t work at all with the Baroque buildings–and she hated the Communists. Apparently, they were as bad as the Nazis and they stayed longer. She said her parents were forced to learn Russian in school. Once the Communists were booted the kids learned English instead. She said her parents felt cheated and everybody spoke Hungarian at home. She was very proud of Hungary and Budapest and we all agreed that Budapest was a lovely city. She sent us on our way and Gordon and I went back to look at St. Stephan’s Basilica. Thank God we did; it wasn’t on any tour and I would have hated to miss it. It was stunning although I was a little creeped out by the exhibit of the mummified Holy Right Hand. I’m not sure who it belonged to but it obviously meant a lot to the locals. We went back to the ship for dinner and our briefing for the next day. Then we went to the topdeck of the boat for a short cruise around the Danube. Budapest (tour guide: “It’s pronounced Budapesht, not Budapest.” Me (to myself): “Then why the hell don’t you throw in an H?”) is lighted up by night. It was lovely–particularly the Parliament building. It was drizzly and cold but I found myself falling asleep. I think I’d been traveling for over 24 hours at that point. We turned in early. Our cabin was comfortable although it was like living in a dollhouse. One person had to sit on the bed if the other wanted to pass but we coordinated our actions quickly. Was it Proust who said, “And so to bed”? That’s where we went. We had a big day of playing tourist ahead of us.


About Barbara Schnell

I've dedicated my life to full-time employment avoidance. I've been an actress, renovated a 1921 California Bungalow, set a cash-winning record on $25,000 Pyramid, and came in last on Jeopardy. I live in Los Angeles with my patient husband and two cats.
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