We started our Eastern European trip for my father-in-law’s birthday celebration in the exotic city of Budapest.
We stayed in the Ritz Carlton and had a lovely stay with great service. The lobby was modern yet elegant with its preserved domed ceiling and located right at the heart of the city in front of a little park and restaurants nearby.
Early the first morning we woke up at the crack of dawn to catch the sunrise as it peaked through the battlements of Buda Castle while there were no tourists around. We were rewarded by a truly amazing glimpse of glorious sunlight bathing this mythical setting in a warm glow. I swear we were part of a scene from the Game of Thrones! I expected Daenerys Tangaryen to come down the steps towards us surrounded by her dragons as if taking King’s Landing from Cersei Lannister (seriously they should shoot footage here for GoT maybe prequels)
Later in the day we took a tour to Gellert Hill upon which the Liberty Statue was at the top commemorating the hard won freedom of the country. Most of their history is very tragic as seems to be a common thread with all the countries behind the Iron Curtain. We can understand the generally stoic nature of the people but underneath (or after a few beers) you get to see an inner warmth beneath the icy exterior. It’s good to expand your horizon to see this side of Europe that has been closed off for so long and seems to have been locked in time.
We had an outdoor lunch at Rezkakas which was recommended by the Ritz. The Goulash soup was amazing with soft cubes of beef. My husband had the pea soup as well which was creamy and rich. Unfortunately the main dishes were mediocre at best with my husband’s duck to firm and my scallops over cooked. Travel tip: It may be better to eat the street food instead which we rather enjoyed more. See below!
My husband enjoyed his Hungarian Sausage which he said was the right balance of salty and meaty. It was HUGE! (Now don’t be green minded!) That is perhaps why that is one of their well known exports. We then walked to the largest market in Europe The Great Market Hall which has to be seen to be believed. Travel Tip: Avoid lunch hour as it gets packed to the rafters literally! Try walking along the shopping boulevards but don’t stop in front of the shops as they get upset (As if that many people are buying… they really need to learn about customer service. This is not Communism anymore!)
On the night before we sailed on our cruise (article to follow) we took a scenic cruise along the Danube river. We saw the beautiful Parliament and crossed under classic bridges flanked with dinner cruise boats and historic landmarks. This is a definite must do much like a Paris river cruise. We saw many dinner cruises along the banks.
So began our Amawaterways river cruise….