The last city on our tour, Budapest, was by far the most scenic. We learned much about the history of the city and country as we toured various parts of the city.
Our ship docked in the middle of Budapest with views of historic and picturesque buildings all around. Our walking tour with a local guide took us first to the sobering “Shoes on the Danube Bank” memorial to Jews and others massacred by the fascist Hungarian militia during WW II. Victims were lined up and ordered to remove their shoes before being shot on the edge of the Danube. Their bodies were then carried away by the river.
Next we stopped at the imposing neo-Gothic Hungarian Parliament Building, constructed from 1885 to 1904. Built by 100,000 people with 40 million bricks and covering an area of 193,800 square feet, it is the largest building in Hungary. One of its two parliament halls is used by the Hungarian National Assembly, the sole legislative body. Much of the building is unused by the government. The Parliament building sits between the Danube on the west and Kossuth Lajos Square and parkland to its east. Across from the park a wall of the Ministry of Agriculture building has a memorial to the unsuccessful 1956 Hungarian Revolution in the form of plugged bullet holes from that event.
A short bus tour took us to Heroes’ Square. Its Millennium Monument has statues featuring various Hungarian national leaders including the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars, leaders of the seven tribes who arrived in the area in AD 895. After lunch back on the ship we rode a tram to the old-world Central Market Hall. We enjoyed exploring a wide variety of local foods, spices, clothing and handcrafts. Here we stocked up on four varieties of Hungarian paprika, and added another Christmas ornament to our travel collection.
Budapest After Dark
For our first night in Budapest our ship remained docked in the center of the city. While earlier views of the city were impressive, the floodlit buildings all around were spectacular in the early evening. On our second and final evening we enjoyed a seven-course dinner on board, including the traditional Bombe Alaska delivered in a procession of the ship’s personnel. The captain then treated us to a cruise up and down the Danube for magnificent views of the entire brightly lit city.
The next morning we arose at 3:30 a.m. to begin our trip home, ending another wonderful journey.
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