Danube Cruise–Day 2, still Budapest

We got up early to be outfitted with our Vox receivers and ear pieces (we called them the gizmos), our bus assignments, and breakfast. Then we took an hour bus ride around Pest. The guide pointed out the best thermal baths, the opera house, the Parliament building, and other points of interest. They let us out at Hero Square and the guide discussed the ornery-looking Magyars on horses and other statuary. She said the locals called themselves Magyar something-or-other; the name Hungary came from the Romans. They called it the Land of the Huns and somehow that became Hungary. She also really hated the Communists. She described the rebellion, how it was crushed, and why Hungarians considered their loss a victory because they never gave up. They have the Tomb of the Unknown Hero where they buried Resistance members. Boy, nobody likes Russians in Hungary. They let us wander around for half an hour then it was back on the bus to the Buda side of the Danube. Pest is on the flats and has the government and commercial areas. Buda is up in the hills and is more residential. The first stop on the Buda side was the bathroom. The toilet cost $1 (either Euro or American) but it was clean. The guide said there were free toilets somewhere or other but they were filthy. I don’t know if that’s true or they were just holding us up for the $1 but at that point I didn’t care. I’d had too much coffee and I’d’ve paid more than $1 to get rid of it. Then when we to Matthias Church. Fabulous. We saw a mummified Holy Left Foot. I don’t know if it belonged to the same guy who gave the Holy Right Hand but I was glad we didn’t see any more churches. I didn’t want to see what other mummified extremities the Hungarians revered. We toured the Fishermen’s Bastion and took pictures of the Parliament building across the river. An actor dressed as a knight had a hooded hawk–actually it was big enough to be an eagle–and let the tourists take pictures for a fee. It was just like Hollywood! Then we were given an hour to shop. I bought an embroidered scarf at one shop and found a painted egg as a Christmas tree ornament in another. I commented on some furniture runners and the clerk told me the table linens were up a spiral staircase. I climbed up and found a gorgeous embroidered tablecloth and napkins that I paid too much for, I’m sure, but I still found them stunning when I got them home so I’m glad I got them. Oh, and they threw in the $3 egg for free. Then we went back to the boat. They cast off after lunch and Gordon and I went to the top deck to relax and watch the scenery. That evening we dressed up for the Captain’s Welcome Dinner. We shared our table with a couple from Wisconsin. He was wearing a cowboy shirt and a bolo tie. They were retired; she was a nurse and he’d just sold his company. They’d downsized and bought a small house and 100 acres back in the woods. He told us about shooting a bearing and rendering the bear fat down for lard. The wife told me it made great pies. They were a hoot. After dinner and our briefing we went back topside and enjoyed the full moon reflected on the Danube. We managed to wake up in the middle of the night to watch the ship go through the locks. It was cool. The boat stopped in the lock then just rose up, up, up. We could touch the wet concrete side through our open window. Then we went back to bed. We had a full day in Venice ahead.

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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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