We skipped today’s half-day excursion to an equestrian park in exchange for ambling around the city. While I’m so glad we did, it turns out that trying to cram the highlights of Budapest into one day is a bit rough!
Since we didn’t sail last night, we awoke to the same view outside our cabin window.
Our day started with an 8:30 a.m. group trip to the Central Market Hall. The lower level is much like a regular farmers market with produce and meats while the upstairs has, well, sort of flea market caliber souvenirs. After realizing that every single stall has the same exact painted dolls, embroidered shirts and tablecloths, and other “local, authentic” goods, I bought a couple pouches of smoked paprika from a vendor downstairs and we moved on to Castle Hill.
We took the funicular, for which we probably waited in line a bit too long, and were rewarded with this view at the top.
It will probably embarrass Kevin that I’m writing this publicly, but on day 2 I already know that one of my favorite memories from this trip will be watching him take in this scene and just chuckle to himself. And I know exactly what that laugh meant, because at several points today I have thought to myself, “How is this my life? I am so lucky to be here right now.” (Or in the words of Angelica Schuyler, “Look around, look around. How lucky we are to be alive right now.”) I’m thinking it right now as I sit in bed and look out our floor-to-ceiling windows with the Hungarian hillside passing by, the river illuminated by moonlight.
We walked the streets of Castle Hill and I popped into a shop that just said “Antiques” on a sign out front. By “antiques” they meant dishware, but they also had a pretty good selection of watercolor reproductions. I chose a panoramic painting that pretty closely mimicked the view we had just seen from the top of the hill. A much better souvenir than a (probably) mass produced trinket from the market.
We headed back to the ship for lunch and learned that preeeeeeetty much everyone had gone to the equestrian park. That’s fine, we basically had a private lunch in the lounge. Afterwards we headed back out, but this time to the other side of the river toward the Jewish Quarter. I wanted to find the Dohany Street Synagogue, which is the largest in all of Europe. The building was seriously impressive in its sheer size, but I was a little disappointed to find that the Holocaust memorial was behind a gate for ticketed visitors.
I had hoped to go to one of the thermal baths in the afternoon, but a 4:15 “all aboard” time didn’t leave us the opportunity. Instead, we headed back across the river again, this time to climb another massive hill. We had seen a rather impressive statue from across the way and went to investigate. A fairly strenuous climb later, we made it to the top and were, I’m pretty sure, even higher up than we’d been on Castle Hill.
By the end of the day my Fitbit says I walked over 25,000 steps 56 flights of stairs. FIFTY SIX FLIGHTS OF STAIRS IS A LOT OF STAIRS, YOU GUYS.
We sat on the sundeck and enjoyed the view while the ship left port, heading north and then west for Bratislava. It was ridiculously relaxing and I’m really glad we had some daylight sailing time instead of just passing from city to city overnight.
Because I spent the day posting to Condé Nast Traveler’s snapchat account, I requested tonight for our dinner reservation at the chef’s table. The restaurant seats about 20 and is located at the rear of the ship on the upper level with huge panoramic windows. So there we were, watching the rural Hungary pass by while course after course of ridiculous food is presented to us.
After dinner, we went up to the sun deck just in time for sunset and I had yet another “Is this real life?” moment.
You guys, I know this is only day two of seven so I’m gonna try real hard to not be completely insufferable about my abundant privilege here. Just wait until we get to Austria and I start spinning on the hillside just like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.
Here are some photos until we meet again, tomorrow in Bratislava.