We are headed to a river cruise in Europe. We will start in Budapest and travel for 14 days to Amsterdam. It is something that has been on our bucket list and after making arrangements a year in advance it is now time to make our trip. It takes 24 hours to travel to Budapest. All those hours spent in airports and airplanes. After traveling that many hours it is hard to find a smile, but once we got to our hotel, got checked in and opened the curtains in our room….well, there was much to smile about.
We are directly across the Danube River from “The Castle”. It is not really a castle but an area built atop the highest hill overlooking the city. It has been distroyed 33 times and was completely bombed apart in World War II.
We have 4 days to sightsee before we board the ship. Each day we are out walking, and walking and walking. We buy 2 day passes to the ‘hop on, hop off” bus. We love doing that in each city we visit because we can see the entire area, get the lay of the land and then decide which areas we want to focus on. Budapest is no different. It is a city rich in culture and history. There are statues everywhere. Of everything.
The hop on, hop off company promotes a walking tour that is lead by a young local man, Matyi (Matt). He is a wealth of information, having been born and raised right here in Budapest. There are only 6 of us on his tour and we start where we have met him, in front of the opera house. The building is having renovations so there are no operas being performed during this time but he takes us into the lobby and we can view the gold and painted ceilings, the inlaid tile floors, the chandeliers. Madonna did her singing scene from “Evita” in this opera house.
He tells us that many movies are being made here and then on que we come across the set where they are filming immediately outside the opera house. (I wonder what movie this will become?)
Once again, for the third time since our arrival, we climb to the top of “The Castle”. The sun is shining and everything is so bright and shining white it looks like the Magic Castle at Disneyland. Matt tells us it has been recently power washed.
It is just the start to our vacation in Europe but we have met such wonderful people who have made us their priority. Budapest is crowded with tourist from around the world. It has become a destination holiday for much of Europe and all parts of the world. They are still struggling to build up their country after being repressed by Communism for so very long. The young people are world citizens and will help to bring their country into a new, bright, future.