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18 July 2012

Today I became a  fashion faux pas.  It was our first official "cruise day" (the time in Prague having been a little side trip).  So to get things started off on the right foot, I decided I would wear the Jello shirt. Which was a good idea.  It got a couple of the usual kinds of comments, which started conversations, and I had Walt be sure to take my picture wearing it, so we could be sure that was done.

We did lots of other stuff too, which I will get to in a minute, but around 5, I got a text from Char saying they were in the bar.  Walt was out running around town, so I just headed up to the bar to meet them, totally forgetting tonight was the welcome reception, with free champagne, hors d'oeuvres, welcome from all the staff, in their spiffy uniforms, all the other passengers dressed to the 9s and I'm sitting there in my jello shirt!  Nobody pointed fingers and whispered, that I could see, but I sure felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb! And me the daughter of someone who has never looked "tacky" a day in her life!

So.  Today.  It was a grey day, our day to tour Budapest, starting with the Pest side of the city.  Our tour guide, Balazs (who reminded me of my late friend, Mike Kelly... not so much in facial features, but those thin, thin legs, that hip action and the pointed shoes made me think of Mike whenever I looked at him!) promised that it would clear up by noon, which we found difficult to believe as we huddled under umbrellas in Heroes Square.

This is one of the largest squares in Budapest.  It was built in 1896 to commemorate the 1000th arrival of Hungarians in the Carpathian basin.  Statues of kings of Budapest are between the columns and the tomb of the unknown lies at the base of the tall column.  There was also a cool clarinet player trying to play his clarinet in the rain, under the shelter of a small overhang on the base of the statue.

We continued around the various neighborhoods, once again lots of comments on the Jewish section, which had been a ghetto before thousands were shipped off to places like Auschwitz and Treblinka.  Very few returned. The city still boasts the largest synagogue in Eurasia on Dohany Street, built in 1854.  Franz Lizst played at the opening ceremonies.

Next it was across the bridge and up into the Buda portion of Budapest and into the castle portion of the city, with its magnificent overlooks.

The bus left us off at a bathroom, and many lined up to take advantage.

Balazs says that if he were going to start a business, he would choose to run a string of bathrooms.  One must pay to pee in most public buildings...150 florints (which is roughly 75 cents!)

Then we started the tour.  We Americans just can't relate to the kind of history people on this side of the pond have experienced.  All tours talk about who was fighting whom, who was deposed, who took over, what effect it had on the people, and the revolution that overturned the occupiers.  One building here in the palace complex shows the effect of active bombing during World War II.  There are holes all over it.

There were lots of really beautiful structures in the castle complex, of which I will post photos when we get home and my internet connection is better.  It is an impressive place...and Walt, who has been bemoaning the loss of his Orkney hat, which he left at the Lobkowitz Palace in Prague, was able to find a replacement.

We were back to the ship -- in the sun! --in time for lunch.  Also got the disappointing news that our optional excursion to a horse farm, what I have been looking forward to, had to be canceled because they didn't have enough people sign up. 

But the scheduled safety drill would go on as originally planned!

After that exercise, Walt and I took a nap for an hour and then we walked down to "the shoes," a sculpture by Gyula Pauer and Can Togay. It honors the Jews who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II. They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away.  The sculpture represents their shoes left behind on the bank.

It's the baby shoes that get ya the most. 

Walt left me here and went to wander around town, while I made my way back to the ship to make a fool of myself in my Jello shirt.  I didn't bother to change it for dinner, another fabulous meal (I've decided I'm going to make these 4-up photos each night so I can remember what we had to eat).

I don't know exactly what the "amuse bouche" is, but some pastry thing that was delicious.  Instead of soup, I was curious about what a "raviolo" is...I've never heard the singular applied to "ravioli".  Well, it's one of them, a single ravioli...er...o....  This was marscapone and potato rolled in noodle dough and fried and served with truffle sabayon sauce.  Tasty little bugger.  This being a special night, the main course was Chateaubriand which was amazing.  And then dessert was Viking's "signature dessert platter," consisting of honey white chocolate mousse, strudle, strawberry parfait and raspberry sponge.

To my delight, one of our sailing partners, Kitch, a very nice man from Ontario (Canada), on this trip with his wife Joyce, is also taking food pictures, so I'm not the only one.

And as if this weren't enough for one day, this was the night we were leaving Budapest, so we rushed from the dining room to the upper deck for a party to celebrate our departure, with apricot liqueur for all.

It was fun, but very, very cold and windy!

(With our new friends, Ron and Barbara, from Nova Scotia.) Tomorrow we will be landing in Bratislava and we won't be taking the city tour because we've opted to have a meal with a local family instead.


Last look at Budapest


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