This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to embark on a Danube River Cruise with Avalon Waterways. The excitement was palpable as soon as I received the invitation, and without hesitation, I RSVP’d with a resounding YES! What enticed me most was not only my love for river cruising, which I’ll delve into more in my next newsletter, but also the fact that the cruise commenced in Budapest – a city that had long been on my bucket list.
Now, I must admit, I’m not typically drawn to sprawling metropolises. I am captivated by the charm of quaint European villages. However, Budapest completely stole my heart. The city exuded a captivating blend of culture, history, and unparalleled beauty. It effortlessly blended the old-world charm of Buda with the vibrant dynamism of Pest. Let me transport you to the moments I cherished during my memorable three-day visit.
Budapest, Hungary’s glorious capital, stands as an architectural masterpiece, cradling centuries of history within its every nook and cranny. As the magnificent Danube River gracefully carves its path, it divides the city into two distinct halves – the enchanting Buda and the bustling Pest. Prepare to be mesmerized as you delve into the rich heritage of Buda Castle, the picturesque Fisherman’s Bastion, and the awe-inspiring Hungarian Parliament, an emblem of grandeur. For a truly indulgent experience, immerse yourself in the soothing embrace of the Széchenyi Baths, renowned for their thermal waters, or embark on a leisurely stroll along the elegant Andrassy Avenue, discovering hidden gems at every turn.
On the day of my arrival, I embarked on a delightful adventure, embarking on a private Tuk-Tuk tour to acquaint myself with the city. My driver, the cheerful Tamas, promptly became my trusted guide, revealing the city’s hidden gems and providing invaluable recommendations. Together, we explored the fascinating Buda Castle, admired the panoramic vistas from the Fisherman’s Bastion, and reveled in the relaxing ambiance of the Gellért Baths. As Tamas skillfully chauffeured me through the city, Budapest’s captivating beauty captivated my soul. As the evening unfolded, I found myself savoring a delectable Paprika Chicken at a charming café along the Danube’s edge, all while relishing the enchanting view of a resplendently illuminated Buda Castle. It was an evening of pure bliss.
The following day carried me deeper into the fabric of Budapest’s allure. In the morning, I embarked on an exploration of a captivating ruins bar, which housed a vibrant local street market. These ruins bars, transformed from dilapidated structures into vibrant nightlife havens, exuded an atmosphere like no other. Vintage décor, live music, and an effortlessly laid-back ambiance combined to create an experience that was both captivating and unforgettable. Eager to embrace the city’s artistic side, I journeyed to the idyllic Szentendre Artists’ Village, indulging in a delightful blend of shopping, culture, and a serene cruise back home on the magnificent Danube. As nightfall approached, I sought out a local restaurant to relish a delectable meal accompanied by enchanting live entertainment, bidding Budapest goodnight with a contented heart.
My final full day in Budapest was marked by two extraordinary experiences – a visit to the iconic Central Market Hall and a rejuvenating retreat to the Széchenyi Bath House. The Central Market Hall, a bustling haven for food enthusiasts and curious shoppers alike, welcomed me with open arms. Within its beautifully restored historic walls, I discovered a treasure trove of fresh produce, tantalizing spices, local delicacies, and traditional crafts. Mesmerized by the vibrant colors and enticing aromas, I couldn’t resist indulging in some paprika as a heartfelt souvenir of my culinary exploration.
No visit to Budapest would be complete without surrendering to the intoxicating allure of the Széchenyi Bath House. Stepping into this cherished cultural haven, I found solace amidst the warmth of ancient thermal waters and the astonishing architectural beauty that surrounded me. With temperatures ranging from 86 to 104 Fahrenheit, the pools provided the ideal retreat, especially considering the mid-60s temperature outside. Whether it truly worked its healing magic or not, I couldn’t tell, but it was undeniably a divine way to spend my afternoon.
As the sun set on my Budapest adventure, I rendezvoused with some colleagues for an extraordinary Hungarian wine tasting and food pairing. How could one possibly resist the allure of wine? With Hungary boasting an impressive selection of nearly 100 native grape varietals and 22 wine regions, this tasting became an immersive journey through Hungary’s remarkable wine culture. By the end of the evening, my colleagues and I found ourselves enlightened by Hungary’s place in the world of wine and filled to the brim with exquisite vintages that left an indelible mark on our palates.
With the dawn of my last morning in Budapest, before bidding farewell to this captivating city, I embarked on a walking tour of the poignant Jewish quarter. I delved into the deeply rooted history of Budapest’s Jewish culture, embracing its medieval origins, notable contributions to commerce, finance, arts, and science, and the immense tragedies it endured during the Holocaust under Nazi occupation. Despite the heartache, Budapest’s Jewish culture has experienced a resilient revival in recent decades, with dedicated efforts to restore and preserve Jewish landmarks and institutions.
Thus, my journey through Budapest came to a bittersweet close as I prepared to embark on my Danube River Cruise. Budapest, a city that forever captivates with its cultural tapestry, rich history, and warm-hearted people, had left an indelible imprint on my soul. As I set sail on the Danube, I carried with me memories that would forever remind me of the city’s timeless allure and the extraordinary experiences it had bestowed upon me. I will certainly be returning!
Get ready to embark on an enchanting journey in my next blog as I unveil the breathtaking wonders of my Danube River Cruise – an extraordinary tale that promises to sweep you off your feet and leave you eager for more!
Until next time…
Sara is the owner of Platinum Travel and specializes in creating luxury, customized, stress free vacations for people who want to see the world and all things Disney.
She also owns Autism Friendly Vacations where she helps families who have a member on the Autism spectrum get the vacation they deserve. Visit AutismVacation.com for more information.
You can reach her at 414-377-8611 or Sara@PlatinumTravelWI.com to start planning your vacation today.