Monday May 19 -- Budapest
Today was our last full day with the cruise and it was another hectic but fun day. It was also sunny all day, which was a cause of much hilarity among the passengers, our first full day of sunshine and our last full day of the cruise tied up to the dock in Budapest.
We began after breakfast with the usual guided bus and walking tour. We were driven first around the Pest part of Budapest (east side of the Danube) and made our way to Heroes' Square where we disembarked for a walk around the square with our guide. Back on the bus, we were driven to Buda part of the city (west side of the Danube) specifically the Fisherman's Hill and Fisherman's Bastion and Matthias Church. We spent some time in the Church and then walked around on our own for a while before getting back on the bus and returning to the ship for lunch.
We had no sooner finished lunch than we called for our shore excursion to the Horse Show, featuring the Puszta 'cowboys'. We drove 30 kilometres out of the city to the town of Godollo, where a nearby farm contained, among other animals, over 90 horses. Many of these are Lippizaner, a breed of horse supported by the Habsburg Monarchy in the 16th century.
As a welcome before the show started, we were given a drink of 'Palinka' (plum or apple spirits) along with some cheese scones. The show included other breeds of horses that were ridden by riders exhibiting skills with whips, spears, and bow and arrow. In addition, we saw teams of horses pulling various carts that were used for racing in competitions. It was quite a show following which we visited the stables to see some of the Lippizaner horses and were given a ride around the property on a wagon pulled by a pair of horses.
We also went into the trophy room where we were impressed by the family record in winning many world championships in team riding. In addition, the young son of one of the world champions is currently the Hungarian equestrian champion at the age of 15. It was all quite entertaining though definitely a very touristy show that Viking cruises support in a big way. There were two other Viking cruise coaches there at the same time as us.
Back at the ship we barely had time to change before it was time for dinner. We had a drink at the bar before joining our new friends once again for dinner. It was sad to say farewell to a few folks after dinner, though we will be seeing the "Montana" group again at least once again in Budapest.
We watched some of the local musicians' show after dinner, but retired to our room to pack around 10:30.
Before calling it a night, we went to the front desk to pay our final bill - ouch!