Jó estét Budapest!
That’s “Good evening from Budapest,” for those of you who don’t speak Hungarian…and I learned today that I absolutely fall into that category. Yeesh. But first things first. This is my current view as I type this post (newsletter? I’m still not 100% sure what this thing is) from the lounge of the AmaViola.
There’s a piano player (currently playing “New York State of Mind”) and a late night snack of chicken wings in the middle of the room, then a bar toward the back. We’re docked right in the middle of Budapest, near the Central Market Hall, where we’re heading tomorrow morning. But I guess I should back up and start from the beginning.
Kevin and I arrived in Budapest this morning after a 6 hour layover in Toronto and nine hour redeye flight, during which time I slept on and off for about three hours and Kevin slept for none. Whoops. Here are some things I’ve learned so far.
- Poutine, even airport poutine, is delicious.
- Not all maple candy is created equal, and I wasted $5 on a bag of the not very good kind.
- Noise canceling headphones may be a godsend on long flights, but they don’t stop the kid seated behind you from shoving her foot into your lower back.
- River cruising is awesome.
- Budapest is beautiful.
Let’s focus on those last two. (And my apologies right now, maybe these things will be better written once I’ve gotten more sleep.)
Our ship, the AmaViola, is absolutely gorgeous. Not only is it brand spanking new (it was just christened in June) but the design is impeccable. There are two main places on board to hang out when you’re not in your room. The lounge, where we are now, and the sun deck. The lounge, which takes up a big chunk of the second level (there are three floors plus the sun deck) is full of comfortable chairs and sofas. The sun deck (where I plan on hanging out tomorrow while we sail from Budapest toward Bratislava) has a small pool with a swim-up bar, giant chess set (giant like the pieces come up to your knees) and a ton of lounge chairs.
After I unpacked in our cabin, I headed out for a walk while Kevin napped. Before we left home I had saved a handful of spots on Google maps and I saw that a yarn shop I had bookmarked was a 17 minute walk from the ship. DONE. (My contributor bio on Condé Nast Traveler’s website really is accurate.) After spending about 12,000 ft (roughly $40 USD) on yarn I’ve never seen in the states and learning that I can absolutely not converse in Hungarian, I headed a little farther down the river to one of the bridges and snapped a few photos before heading back to the ship.
After a welcome reception and safety briefing from the ship’s staff and crew (everyone on board is super friendly, as one would expect from any sort of Disney anything), we headed to the dining room for dinner. You guys… Here’s tonight’s menu.
Clearly I’m going to starve on board this ship. After dinner, there was some entertainment in the lounge from a group of Rubix cube “magicians.” These guys (why was it only guys? hmm…) could solve Rubix cubes in 15 seconds flat. They gave a history of the cube (which was invented here in Budapest) and did a bunch of demonstrations. We each left with a cube of our own and a sheet of tips for solving it. Maybe we’ll both have it mastered by the end of the trip.
The highlight of the evening was definitely the Illuminations Cruise, where we sailed down the river past Parliament and I can’t even count how many gorgeous buildings and statues, all lit up. In true Disney style, the cruise concluded with a brief fireworks display.
So, partly because Kevin just looked over my shoulder and said “You don’t want them to be too long now” and partly because going to bed sounds like a swell idea, here are some photos from our first day.
We were the very first guests aboard the ship today and had the sun deck all to ourselves.
Snacks available after boarding. The AmaWaterways kitchen staff is definitely having fun with the Disney theming.
A random street in Budapest. What is it about Europe that their streets are so much cuter than ours?
This is a McDonalds, because of course it is.
This is when I realized I have no idea how you eat a crayfish.
Cherries jubilee with house-made ice cream. Yum.
Parliament. Not too shabby.