Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Our Final Day In Budapest, and 1st Viking River Cruise Day! Day 8, June 2, 2016

Today is our first full day that's all Viking....we woke up on board the ship, after a nice, restful sleep in our cabin! Even though we are still docked in Budapest, our cruise began yesterday! It's raining a bit today, but that won't stop us! We have a full day planned, starting with breakfast!  It was quite good with a full buffet as well as cooked to order items as well.  

After breakfast we met in the reception area for our first official Viking tour - Budapest City Tour. On river cruises you will find that in your ports an excursion is included every day. Sometimes you will have a choice or two of different excursions that are included. Most passengers who have not yet been to the port will take advantage of these included excursions, but of course you are welcome to venture out on your own, as long as you return to the ship before it leaves for it's next destination! You also will have optional, extra charge excursions available in some of the ports as well. These are often a bit more unique, or excursions that may have an additional admission charge that is passed along to you. Alex and I participated in several of these on this trip and are looking forward to sharing those as well!

But first up, we boarded our bus for the included City Tour! We drove along Andrassy Avenue passing by the shops and buildings where Alex and I had walked the other day when we went to our Segway tour. 

The rain was still coming down, but here is the Opera House

And some other buildings along the way

We stopped at Heroes Square and got out for some pictures and a bit of a history lesson. 

Now it was time to go to the Buda side of the city, and the Castle district. 

We walked to the Matthias Church which has undergone quite a history since its origins in 1015 when the original church was founded on that sight by King Stephen. It was named after King Matthias in the 19th century.

St. Stephen's Statue outside of Matthias Church

And a bit of a falcon posing opportunity as well

From the church we walked to the Fisherman's Bastion which served as a lookout for the guild of Fisherman in the middle ages. At one time actual castle walls stood where the lookout towers now stand.  The seven turrets represent the seven tribes that founded the present day country in 895.  And the Fisherman's Bastion is one of the most visited attractions in Budapest. The views are amazing, and the Bastion itself is quite decorative!

One of the towers

Our ship down below on the Danube!

The Parliament Building

We then had some free time and Alex and I went to get some coffee and pastries before boarding the bus back to the ship. These are some more pictures from the area on the way to our meeting point.

And as we left, this is the front of the Bastion....very ornate isn't it?

We went back to the ship for lunch, and then got ready for our afternoon trip back out! There was more to see before setting sail! 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Taking some time to "soak it all in" in Budapest! Day 7 continued 6/1/16

After touring the Parliament Building, and then heading to St. Stephen's Cathedral, we picked our luggage up at the hotel and made a quick stop at our ship.  We finally were boarding our river cruise!  We took a taxi to the dock, which was only a few minutes from the hotel, and there we were....boarding one of Viking's newest ships, the Viking Vilhjalm! 

But this was only a quick stop on board. As I mentioned earlier, we weren't sailing until tomorrow, which meant we still had plenty of time left in Budapest! So, we had sights to be seen here still! Alycen, Alex and I were off to the Thermal Baths! 

Budapest is the only capital city in the world that is rich in thermal waters with healing qualities, so I've read. So, it's not surprising to find that there are several 'Historic Thermal Baths', and we were out to visit one!  We chose the SzĂ©chenyi Baths, which is one of Europe's largest public baths with 18 pools, of which 15 are spring fed. The hot spring thermal pools are rich in calcium, magnesium, hydro-carbonate, sodium and sulfate.  They also have significant amounts of fluoride and metabolic acid and the waters are recommended to help with joint diseases, including arthritis as well as other orthopedic issues.

This was our first trip on the subway! We made it without too much confusion! 

The building is quite ornate, both inside and out...

We pre-purchased a package that included towels, slippers and individual changing "locker" rooms.  These rooms were perfect so that we could store our belongings in them while we were in the pools.  We also received individual bottles of soap and shampoo.

Once we were changed we went right outside. This was the cool, lap pool.  Here if you went underwater, a bathing cap was required. This was strictly enforced. This was not a thermal pool.

After a bit cooling off we moved to the thermal, outdoor pools. 

The water is a bit greenish from the minerals. It felt absolutely amazing!

Each of the pools had a sign that indicated the water temperature.

We stayed outside the entire time, and never made it to any of the indoor pools. We were enjoying the outside too much!

Unfortunately though our time here had to come to an end...we had to head back to the ship for our first "event"! We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon at the baths though and definitely would go back! It was incredibly relaxing and definitely a great afternoon experience!  Next time, we need to try to make it inside!

We made our way back to the ship and Alex and I unpacked. We were staying in a French Balcony stateroom on the main deck. For those not familiar with river cruise ships, they are all essentially the same size and shape. It's what goes on inside that makes them different from one another. Throughout this "journey" I'll be posting pictures from on board the ship, rather than try to do it all at one time. The ship was very nice and we enjoyed the modern decor. 

Our cabin was somewhat small though, as you can see from the pictures...

The bathroom was basic, somewhat small, but we made do with everything. 

I'm often asked just what there is to do on a river cruise ship. Without the big entertainment venues or multiple dining options, what keeps everyone busy? Hopefully as you read about our upcoming days, you'll see that we never had a dull moment!

After getting back from the baths and changing, we had our "Welcome Briefing".  This takes place in the lounge and the Vilhjalm team talked about the ship and what we could look forward to during our time on board, as well as what our options would be for tomorrow.  After the briefing, which is always during cocktail hour, it's time for dinner.

While I don't remember exactly what the choices were for any meal, there is always a standard menu that doesn't change throughout the cruise and then a specials menu that is different every night.  

After dinner, since we were still docked in Budapest, but at a different spot than our previous nights - what better to do than go up onto the sun deck and take some more pictures of this beautiful city at night!

Even though we hadn't sailed yet, we were on board. Our cruise had officially started! Tomorrow and for the next 7 days, we'd be in the hands of Viking! We were excited to begin the next phase of this journey!