Emerald Waterways Danube Delights Day Seven
Day seven of our Danube River cruise in Budapest was our final full day on the Emerald Sky. We docked on the Buda side around 8:30 in the morning and after breakfast, everyone piled into several tour buses.
For those who aren’t aware, Budapest is divided in two by the Danube and didn’t actually become one city until 1873 almost 30 years after the Chain Bridge was built. Buda, on the west side, is smaller and less densely populated due to the hilly terrain while Pest is flat and sprawls eastward.
Our tour first took us up into the Buda Hills to the Liberty Statue high above the city on the Gellért Hill. The statue was erected in 1947 and commemorates those who gave up their lives for the independence, freedom, and prosperity of Hungary.
Our next stop was Heroes Square on the Pest side and our guide took us through a great cross-section of the city. We drove up the wonderful Andrassy Avenue, a world heritage site, which runs from the city centre to Heroes Square and Central Park. The wide avenue is bordered by palaces, shops, and cafés as well as the State Opera House. It has a tree-shaded cobbled walkway down each side with strategically placed benches for the sore of feet.
Heroes Square is a huge expanse with some impressive statuary. The Millennium Column is topped with the archangel Gabriel and has at its base the Seven Chieftans of the Magyars who led the Hungarian people to the Carpathian Basin (where Hungary is today). Two collonades are on either side featuring kings and heroes of the country. In front of the column is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Palace of Art is to one side of the square while the Museum of Fine Art is on the other. The end opposite Andrassy Avenue has a bridge leading into the beautiful City Park.
Reboarding the buses, we wended our way back through the city centre and back over to the Buda side to Castle Hill where Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church are located. Fisherman’s Bastion (a long terrace with great views of the city) has seven towers representing each of the Magyar Tribes. It was built as a mostly decorative structure around 1905. It is situated next to the Matthias Church, which has been there in some form since 1255 and is where many of Hungary’s kings were crowned.
In our free time after the bus tour (we were dropped back on the Pest side), Mike and I scoped out where we would be staying in Budapest after the cruise. That taken care of, we wandered a bit and then went back to the ship knowing we would have a couple of days after this to explore the city.
Evening Cruise on the Danube
It had been up in the air several days earlier whether or not we would be able to do the scheduled evening cruise past the Parliament Buildings. Budapest was hosting the FINA World Championships while we were there and for some reason (possibly security) the evening cruise had originally been cancelled. So we were quite happy to find that we were allowed to have our cruise.
But first, we had our final dinner on the ship as the sun went down.
During dinner, I dashed up to the sun deck to snap some photos of an amazing rainbow that spanned the Danube.
Unfortunately, the rainbow did not presage the end of the rain that evening. During our cruise, it was really cold and wet but I had brought a jacket for just such an occasion. We went north and around Margaret Island and back down past the Parliament Buildings which were spectacular. In the Horizon Lounge, our wonderful bartenders were putting together specialty drinks to warm everyone up. Did I mention they were the best?
After the cruise, we spent our last evening chatting in the lounge, having nightcaps, and then packing. We were off the ship by ten the next morning and on to our solo Budapest adventure.
If asked if I would do a river cruise again with Emerald Waterways, I would have to give a resounding “Yes!” Everything from the tours, the food, the accommodation, and especially the service, was excellent. Mike and I enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.
Did you miss Day Six, Bratislava?