I’ve just returned from a whirlwind of a tour in Europe, which was partly a river cruise on the Danube, and partly hotels and being bussed from city to city. I had a great time, but it was truly exhausting. It was the longest trip I’ve ever taken, and covered many cities. In retrospect, it was perhaps too many places for the amount of time, but I’m glad I had the chance to see everything I did. I’m not sure I’d ever want to go on such a jam-packed trip again, though.
We hit Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic.
It will take a long time to go through all of my photos and notes, but at least I’ve made a start. Our trip began in Budapest, where we spent two nights at the gorgeous Corinthia Hotel before transferring to our river boat. This is a view of the atrium/lobby.
The hotel was fabulous, and I’d have been happy to stay there for a week. The hotel has an awesome spa area with a large pool, two jacuzzis (warm and hot), a sauna, and a steam room. One of the highlights of the trip was sharing a steam bath with Ian McShane. He was there filming the movie “Hercules: The Thracian Wars”.
Budapest itself was lovely. It may have been my favorite city of the trip, and I’d love to go back again some day. The city was originally Buda and Obuda on one side of the river, and Pest on the other side, but they were united to form Budapest in 1873. By the way, Budapest is actually pronounced Budapesht (the “s” is pronounced as “sh”).
The Buda side is hilly, and the Pest side is completely flat. From Castle Hill on the Buda side, you can get a wonderful view of the city. Here are a few photos from the Castle Hill district – click an image for larger.
Some of the other things we did were to wander the streets of Budapest, walk down to Heroe’s Square (they were having a big national event with horse races that weekend, so we couldn’t actually go into the square), visit the Fine Arts Museum, and have a traditional Hungarian dinner with folk dancing entertainment.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to do a tour of the castle. That would definitely be on my list if I ever return. I also wish I’d been able to get a photo of the McDonald’s that was the first McDonald’s behind the Iron Curtain – it may be the most beautiful McDonald’s in the world. They had a 3-mile line when they first opened. I guess everyone wanted a peek at Western decadence. It’s a gorgeous building with beautiful frescoes and chandeliers, but I only had the chance to see it from the outside.
One of the most spectacular sights is to see Budapest from the Danube River at night. If you are ever there, be sure to take an evening trip on the river, or at least head down to one of the bridges for an unforgettable view. This photo of the Parliament building is one of my favorites from the trip:
If you’re interested in viewing more of my photos from Budapest, you can find them here.
All posts for this vacation can be found with this tag: Europe2013