Budapest – Magical Beauty and Artistry

Budapest Parliament seen from our Danube Dinner Cruise after dinner
Budapest Parliament seen from our Danube Dinner Cruise after dinner

Monday, May 4:

A dinner cruise! What an intro to Budapest! Insight Vacations had booked us on a boat of our own for a dinner cruise on the Danube on the night we arrived! We arrived in Budapest at 16:15, having left Vienna’s Museum Quarter at 12:40.  It’s a  250 km drive East.

We checked in at the Sofitel Chain Bridge, my favourite hotel of the whole bus tour. It’s less than a 2 minutes walk from the Pest side of the bridge. The Sofitel had a very exciting central atrium – a happening place – and our room had a magnificent view of the Chain Bridge illuminated at night. We would be here for only two nights: too little time!

Before boarding our dinner cruise boat at 19:30 we had time to walk away from the river on Vaci Street looking for bottled water. While out, we treated ourselves to coffee and pastry at Gerbeaud House, famous the world over for its charm, decor and the inventive confectionery genius of Emil Gerbaud, awarded the French Légion d’Honneur in 1900. For two pastries and two coffees it was 7820 Forints – about €26.

I was excited to be here. In Budapest we have a wonderful friend who is a Budapest native. I will call her Csilla to respect her privacy. We met Csilla in April, 2013 on our Camino Santiago trip, and connected immediately. We shared email addresses and became “pen pals.” Knowing Csilla has greatly enriched our visit to Budapest. She had promised to show us around in the afternoon on Tuesday, our only full day in Budapest. More about our friend later; now to our dinner cruise…

The Danube night cruise is, hands down, more beautiful than Prague’s night cruise. Budapest is an exquisite, perfectly scaled jewel. The waterfront is uncrowded; each of its illuminated architectural treasures can be appreciated with one’s absolute attention: Continue reading “Budapest – Magical Beauty and Artistry”


Vienna and Melk – May 16

Detail of Courtyard
Detail of Courtyard

May 16: goodbye Insight Vacations Highlights of Eastern Europe Bus Tour. Now for four self-planned nights in Vienna and a change to more  affordable digs. The concierge at the Hilton on Am Stadtpark was very helpful. He suggested leaving our bags with Hilton and leaving asap for Melk. I phoned the amazing Tina at K&T Boardinghouse, where we had booked 4 nights months before, to let them know we would be arriving much later than 9 AM because we were seizing the nice day and going to Melk. Tina suggested 6 PM and promised there would be someone there to welcome us. Going to Melk first made it possible to buy a money-saving 3-consecutive-day transit pass for our last 3 days in Vienna. We grabbed the U3 line right across the street. It took us 3 stops to Westbahnhof Station where we bought our tickets for Melk Abbey for €51 pp. These combi-tickets included the train from Westbahnhof Station to Melk, admission to the Abbey, a Danube boat from Melk to Krems and a train on a different line from Krems back to Vienna.

Vienna ►Melk  Melk ► Krems ► Vienna
Vienna ►Melk
Melk ► Krems ► Vienna

Read on for some photo souvenirs from our trip, followed by a description of our new digs and our Schnitzel dining fun evening in Vienna: Continue reading “Vienna and Melk – May 16”