This itinerary is Viking's Danube Waltz, from Budapest to Passau. The first night is actually spent on board the ship docked in Budapest, which allows passengers who didn't spend anytime before the cruise in the city, to have a full 24 hours exploring, as well as a chance to see Budapest in all its glory lit up at night. Our group, Alex, myself, Alycen and Katie, were all glad to have this additional time to spend here! There was still much more to see, and now we had a chance to spend the extra day both on our own and then tomorrow on some tours through Viking!
And so our day begins! Alex and I met Alycen and Katie for breakfast at our hotel, and it was actually, just ok. We thought the included breakfast in Salzburg was much better than this breakfast here at the Ritz, and this was wasn't included. But all the same, we enjoyed it and continued on!
We checked out and left our bags here until we'd actually be heading over to the docks. But first we had a morning tour planned! It was finally time to see inside this Parliament Building that we'd passed over and over here in Budapest! The guide picked the four of us up and off we went.
Our group finally was ready to go in. While it was crowded, the guides did a great job with crowd control. The tour was very organized and we saw what seemed like a lot of the public areas. The tour lasted about 2 1/2 hours I believe.
After visiting the treasure, we went into the Parliament chambers. There is definitely a strong gold presence!
In the museum is another model of the building. This Parliament building is the 3rd largest in Europe. It has 24 towers and the exterior is lined with 90 statues from Hungarian history. There are apparently 88 pounds of gold used in the staircases and halls!
During the Soviet occupation, the Soviets wanted the parliament dome to be higher than the dome of St. Stephen's cathedral. They installed this red star at the top of the Parliament building to represent their leadership and occupation. When their rule was overturned, the star came down. You can't tell by the picture, but the star is 10 feet wide.
After the tour, we walked around the building outside a bit.
And then we decided to walk back to our hotel, somewhat following the path that Alex and I took on our Segway tour last night, so we could show Alycen and Katie some of the things we saw.
First up, we had to pose with Ronald Reagan! His statue was unveiled to commemorate his role in bringing the Cold War to an end. And with that, Hungary regained its Sovereignty.
The US Embassy faces Parliament
From here, we made a stop at St. Stephen's Basilica. This is the city's largest church.
For only a few coins, you press a button and the hand is illuminated for two minutes!
After checking out the hand, we found that we could go up to the top of the cupola for an amazing view of the city. So up we went! By elevator, for those who may not want to climb the 364 steps!