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Ankur and I are back in the US after a weeklong river cruise on the Danube! Even though we’ve been back for a few days, I still wake up feeling a little discombobulated. It could be the jet lag. Or it could be the fact that it’s so much QUIETER here. I kind of got used to hearing the water outside our window. And hearing our parents’ voices in the hallway outside our room as they tried to hurry everyone along for breakfast.
Family vacations can be difficult with trying to coordinate so many people all at one time. Still, I think we did a pretty good job of sightseeing and participating in the walking tours. And we did a really good job at the eating, the drinking, and the selfie taking. (It’s what our family does best).
The best part about traveling on a ship is that you wake up in a different city every morning. It makes for some very comfortable traveling. Also, it felt pretty luxurious to sleep in a comfortable bed, wake up and take a shower, eat a gourmet buffet breakfast, and then step off the boat to explore a new area every single day.
I will be recapping our trip in seven different posts – one for each day – since each day was jam-packed full of activities, adventures, and photographs. And each city deserves a post of its own!
Flight to Budapest
Since we live in the middle of nowhere, we had to take three flights in order to meet everyone in Budapest. We flew from Knoxville –> Chicago –> Frankfurt –> Budapest. Lucky for me, I had a pretty great traveling partner that was quite entertaining but also a calming presence since I have a pretty terrible fear of flying.
Once we landed in Budapest, we quickly made our way through customs and a representative from our cruise ship shuttled us to a meeting point hotel to store our luggage while we explored. Since we landed around 9AM and didn’t have to board the cruise until 5PM, we had all day to explore both Buda and Pest. (Fun fact: I only recently found out – just a few weeks before our trip – that Budapest is bisected by the Danube. And the “Buda” side is on a hill and the “Pest” side is the flatter half).
Buda and Pest
Ankur and I walked around Budapest for about an hour. After nearly 20 hours of traveling, we were both pretty exhausted so we got iced coffee in hopes that it would energize us and keep us chugging along. Instead, I parked myself on the grass in front of the coffee shop and took an hour long nap.
Eventually, we got going again and met up with Arjun and Bhanu at Fisherman’s Bastion. From the towers, we were able to get a panoramic view of the Danube River and the rest of the city.
We stayed there for a few minutes, but after a while, our tummies were grumbling and ready to grub. On our walk back toward the hotel, we were stopped by a man who convinced us – with his salesman tactics – to eat at his restaurant. Once we walked in, we realized it was a shisha/hookah bar. We ended up just getting a pre-lunch drink to celebrate reaching Budapest safely. And to kick off an exciting week ahead!
We walked back over the chain bridge toward Pest to find REAL lunch food. We ended up eating at the meeting point hotel since we had spent all our time walking around the city and were running short on time. Club sandwiches and french fries make for an authentic Hungarian meal, right?
Boarding the Cruise
At 4:30, we met up with our Cruise Director. She loaded all of us on a bus that would take us to the cruise. Once we set foot on the boat, we were smothered in hugs and kisses from all the moms and dads.
We are some lucky kids.
Once we boarded and got access to our rooms, we almost immediately jumped into the shower. After a day of traveling and a day of exploring Budapest, a shower was absolutely necessary. Around 6:00PM, we all met in the lounge for a welcome reception with champagne and appetizers.
After the captain and the cruise director gave their speeches and introduced the crew, we were required to participate in a small safety demonstration. Then, it was time for dinner! It was fun to be able to catch up with the family and finally be in the same place after so many months!
Budapest is definitely a place that I would like to go back to and explore in more depth. But it was nice to have even a short amount of time to get a taste of the city’s culture and history.
If we were to do it all over again (and if I had the ability to take the time off of work), we’d probably fly into Budapest a couple of days before the cruise. This would give us a few days to do all the touristy things. Also, I’d probably enjoy myself more if I were fully rested instead of just hoppin’ off a plane and go-go-going after 18 hours of flying.
Still, I’m pretty lucky to have had the opportunity to be a part of this trip. So, before I dive into each post describing all the things I saw and the food I ate, I want to pause and say thank you to our parents for gifting us this unforgettable experience. We are so grateful and we love you for organizing this for the whole family.
Questions of the Day:
- Have you ever been on a river cruise? An ocean cruise?
- Did you know Budapest was ACTUALLY Buda + Pest?