and cruising

Trip Start Jul 08, 2013
Trip End Aug 10, 2013

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Flag of Hungary  ,
Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bags to the bus at 9am this morning and after singing along to our "day song" (the song we listen to every time we get on the coach) we were on our way to Hungary! We made a stopover in Bratslava, Solvakia for lunch which was absolutely delicious and sweated our way through the streets of the little town. The weather has been getting hotter and hotter and we were happy that todays bus ride was only three hours. We arrived in the early afternoon in Budapest and I liked it immediately. Consisting of two towns on either side of the Danube River, Buda and Pest became one city in 1873. Buda, which is green and hilly, is the more upscale residential side of the city where the old castle still stands. Pest's beautiful buildings and interesting churches looked very exciting as we drove past cute bridges toward our hotel. A quick change into a dress for our fancy evening out and we were off on the bud once again with our local guide showing us all the sights and historical tidbits of this ancient city.

Our first stop was at the top of Castle Hill where we got a fantastic view of the city us. Battling many tourists, we got some great shots, then drove over to the Fisherman's Bastion, so named for the guild of fisherman that were in charge of defending the wall along that part of the old city. It was probably the most beautiful building I have seen on this trip...and that is saying a lot! Turrets, arches, columns and carvings come together with fantastic staircases and grand views. We were in photo heaven! We took a large professional group photo of everyone on the Contiki Tour and then they gave us a half hour to snap our own shots. My girls and I had a riot doing silly shots and beauty shots before hopping back on the bus to continue our guided tour.

Budapest was ravaged during the second world war and unlike many of the other cities, not a lot of money has gone into restoring its old buildings. The old beauty stares out at your from behind crumbling walls and flaking paint. It seems like a city poised on the edge of a revitalization if only someone had the time to invest in it. Its potential is undeniable though and our guide said that more and more tourists are visiting every year which should help. Tonight was drove around and saw many of the major buildings both new and restored and then headed to our dinner cruise along the Danube. This was an optional dinner but I think our whole Contiki Group climbed aboard where we were greeted with champagne and a full buffet dinner! Cabbage rolls, Paprika Chicken, a huge selection of meats and cheeses and even Caviar! Topped off with free wine on the table and espresso with our dessert and we were in heaven! We cruised up and down the River for a few hours watching night fall on the city and drinking more wine. Hungary has a thriving wine industry that, in true Hungarian form, no one knows about. (our guide said that all Hungarian accomplishments seem to go unnoticed by the rest of the world...did you know they invented the Rubics Cube? Now you do!)

I was getting excited for a big night out with my new friends and maybe a chance to go dancing. We went into town after the boat docked and started at a very interesting bar that was half outdoors with an interior courtyard. But as we had some people who weren't really drinkers and wanted to go dancing, we needed to find a place we could rock out real quick. Ended up following some Canadian guys who said they knew where a great dance place was but after a half hour of wandering the streets and two wrong bars, it became apparent that they had no idea and my crew was fading fast. In a last ditch effort we popped into this place that had a dance floor in the basement where three locals were dancing to trance music. Not our scene. My crew was fading fast so we made the disappointed decision to head back to the hotel...but I perked up when I remembered that I get to sleep in tomorrow!
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