Tuesday May 20 -- off the Viking Idi in Budapest
We had packed the night before and all we had to do was to shower, have breakfast and head out. We ate breakfast in the dining room and were joined by Anne and John. We had taken some of our novels that we have purchased during the last six weeks with us for others to use. Anne is a big reader and took one of the books. Heather gave the remainder to Joey for the ship library. It was quite sad to leave Viking Idi that had been our home for 15 days, but it was time to go.
We had intended to walk to our hotel, but as it was very hot and sunny and the hotel was probably a mile or so away across the Chain Bridge, Heather asked the concierge to phone the hotel to see if they had a shuttle which they did not. We decided to take a taxi (10 euros) which was worth the wear and tear on our bodies! As expected, we could not get into our room at the "Art'otel" as it was only 10:00, but the hotel clerk told us that we would have a very nice room overlooking the river ready by 2:00. We left our luggage and sat for while in the cool lobby studying our maps before heading out for a walk. The hotel is in the Buda side of the city opposite the Parliament Buildings which will be great to see at night.
We walked to the funicular railway near the base of the Chain Bridge and rode up to the hill on which Buda Castle stands above the city. We spent some time walking around the outside of the Castle. Some of the ruins nearby are home to a number of feral cats. It was nice to see that a woman brought them food, probably on a regular basis as they all flocked to the fence when she put the food out. The cats were not underweight so they must be fed quite often.
We walked along the walls back towards Matthias Church where we were the day before. We stopped in the shade at a restaurant for a cool drink. We ended up talking to a couple at the next table who were from Hessle near Hull (where Heather went to university). It is a small world. They were on an organized railway tour from city to city in Europe which sounded very interesting.
We then walked northwards for a while exploring the nearby streets. The area was quite residential and we saw several embassy residences as we descended the many steps back down to the river level. On the way, we stopped at a small deli for lunch (a nice sandwich and a beer) and then walked back to the hotel to check in.
Our room was on the sixth floor overlooking the Danube River and the view of the Pest side of town was brilliant. We rested for a while before getting ready for dinner. We had arranged to meet the folks from Montana for drinks at 6:00.
We were a bit early so we walked across the Chain Bridge to the Four Seasons Hotel where they were staying. John met us in the lobby and took us up to their suite for a drink before going out for dinner. We were joined by Pat and Larry and after a glass or two of champagne we walked to the Pomo D'Oro Restaurant a few blocks away. This restaurant had been recommended by Joey on board the Idi and it had lots of atmosphere. We all ate a lovely meal and enjoyed a really fun evening.
After dinner, we walked back to the river in front of their hotel and said our good-byes, then we walked back across the Chain Bridge to our hotel. It will be nice to keep in touch with Pat and Larry and Anne and John. They are "fun" people and we enjoyed our time with them on the ship and afterwards.