BUDAPEST & SCENIC CRUISING
Before departing the ship yesterday to explore Budapest we saw Josef Lumetsberger and John Stoll. Josef gave us some touring advice for the city and we went on the sun deck with him as he pointed out places to visit.
We began with our first walk of Budapest. Boarding and departing River Cruise vessels can be a different experience from an Ocean Vessel. For example, in the morning Mozart was docked alongside another ship on the Pest (pronounced Pesh side of the river). To get from our ship to the walkway we walked through the other vessel. We almost thought we were on an ocean vessel and walking in a terminal as the lobby of the other ship was full of merchandise for sale. LOL.
Our walk began by taking in views of the Buda side which we would eventually walk. We made a visit to the Great Market Hall (in Hungarian Nagycsarnok or Vasarcsarnok). It was built in 1897 and is the largest and most beautiful of the market halls in Budapest.
It is a great place for tasting fresh baked goods, shopping for meat and poultry, selecting vegetables and fruit, and picking up other items such as honey and paprika. We saw many locals making food purchases. At the same time it is good for tourists with a variety of items to purchase from soft goods to toys, shirts, magnets, purses, wallets, clothing, Christmas Ornaments, Chess sets along with many other items.
It is on multiple levels and also a great place to people watch.
We proceeded to walk in the other direction and saw Josef Lumetsberger who was getting ready to depart the area on his way back to Amsterdam where his office is located. Josef mentioned someone we knew very well would be there in a minute or two so we waited for him. Those who have sailed Crystal several years ago will remember him and he looks the same to us.
Do you recognize him?
The familiar face was no other than Josef Widmar who retired from Crystal Cruises in 2010 after many years as a Maitre d' on the Ocean Vessels.
We sailed with Josef on Symphony and Serenity. He was the consummate Maitre d'. He used to have office hours each morning at the Captain's Table at the center of the Crystal Dining Room. He would have that board with the seating chart of the Crystal Dining Room. On the first night of the sailing he would walk around the Dining Room with the chart to see if everyone was pleased with their seating assignments during main and late seating.
We learned from him the way the Europeans pronounce our surname.
Although retired, from time to time he fills in on a vessel to provide relief for someone going for a short holiday. It is a Small World.
We wished Josef Widmar and Josef Lumetsberger safe travels. We thanked Josef for his hospitality and for visiting the ship and having dinner with us and we look forward to seeing him again.
We continued our walk along the Danube on the Pest side walking by several beautiful buildings and taking in the scenery all around us. We walked near the Jewish Quarter and St. Stephen's Basilica. We crossed over to the Buda via one of the bridges. We walked towards Castle Hill which is an array of buildings that comprise this UNESCO World Heritage Site. This includes the Castle Palace and the Hungarian National Gallery and National Library. We could see the Matthias Church which was the venue used for the coronation of several Hungarian monarchs.
We walked along the Danube in the direction towards the ship. The weather was gorgeous and we had sun and no rain. Many people were out walking and there were lots of bicycles. You do need to be careful while walking and not veer into a bike lane or you might be accidentally hit.
We took in other sites as we walked. We passed a memorial building related to World War I.
We continued to another bridge and could see the Gellert Hill. We walked across the Bridge and back to Crystal Mozart.
We found an Anne Marie with a loving heart.
Back on-board we enjoyed a lovely lunch at Waterside
Speaking of food, we wanted to mention on selected nights an alternative for dinner at Waterside is available which is Tapas at Bistro Mozart. For those of you who dined at Tastes on Serenity there are a few items that will look familiar as Tastes offered tapas. This is the menu.
After lunch Keith went out on his own while Anne Marie walked for the first time of this cruise on the Promenade Deck. This is the only one of the five River Cruise vessels having the outdoor deck. As Keith departed the ship, George one of the two security personnel, let Keith know that at 2:00 PM the ship would be moving its position from alongside the other river vessel to directly next to the pier.
Keith did a mix of running and fast walking . He runs, fast walks, runs, and fast walks. It works well for him and his knees.
He covered a lot of ground on his own. It was cooler than the morning as there was some wind. The streets and sidewalks were active with more people out and about. Outdoor cafes were busy. It was recommended that we check out the Four Seasons Hotel. Why you ask? It is located in a restored Palace. The site was once occupied by Nako House a Neo-classical palace built in 1827. Eventually with new ownership they built a new structure called Gresham Palace which was completed in 1906 and opened in 1907. During the occupation after World War II the red army used the building as a barracks. In 1990 following the end of the communist regime the government presented the palace to the city of Budapest.
Starting in 2001 the building was redone and made into a luxury property. In 2011 it was bought by the State General Reserve of Oman and is managed by Four Seasons. The outside and inside of the hotel are truly amazing.
Keith continued his run/fast walk as he enjoyed views around the city. He stopped only to take some photos and at traffic lights.
Speaking of traffic lights he helped to prevent a tragic accident. While he was waiting for a light to turn green he noticed a couple to the left of him. The light was still red. The man started to take two steps into the street and at the corner of his eye Keith saw a car driving fast (likely because the light was changing). The man was looking to the right and the car was coming from his left. Keith shouted stop....stop... and the car was within a second of running him over before he stepped back. It would have been a horrific accident with the man possibly killed. He thanked Keith. Wow!! A reminder to be careful.
We enjoyed the rest of the late afternoon on Mozart and got ready for the evening. We had a pre-dinner drink at Palm Court as a lecture was being given on Hungary followed by dinner at Waterside. The dining venue featured a buffet dinner. It opened 30 minutes early as there as a Crystal Signature Event off the ship called Princesses of the Violin.
The buffet included many of the salad items offered at lunchtime, an array of hot items (fish, veal, turkey cordon bleu, several types of vegetables and a few other items). Lots of desserts, and someone slicing three different types of cheese.
We made the decision not to attend and this is due to Anne Marie's immune system. As those of you who have been following us know we are careful in some of the things we do. It's all about doing what we think makes sense and being balanced. We wish we could go to events like this but at the same time we are grateful that we are able to travel and be here.
At 10:30 PM after those who went arrived back to the ship we had a ninety minute sail around this area of the Danube to enjoy the lights from the Buda and the Pest sides. At midnight we returned back to shore.
We began our day as you have been accustomed with an early workout for Keith followed by coffee and breakfast in our room.
When Keith went to the Fitness Center he noticed an envelope outside for us. It was a preliminary statement which is a reminder that the end of the voyage is near.
We enjoyed our final time in Budapest with another walk. The weather was terrific and this is such a beautiful city. Like all cities one needs to be careful and we were given good advice where to walk and areas to avoid. We followed that advice.
We will provide more details about our walk when we post tomorrow along what we did for the remainder of today.
Anne Marie & Keith