Thursday, December 15, 2016


It is another fairly big day on the road again today.  It was really said to say goodbye to Beth this morning who had to leave the tour as Neville would be in the ICU in Prague Hospital for at least 3-4 days and then needed at least a  further week or more in hospital to recover before he would be fit enough to be released and be able to return to Australia.

We left right on 8.30am this morning heading to Bratislava the capital of Slovakia.  We got held up in some really heavy traffic leaving Prague, so bad that traffic had come to quite a stand still for a long time.  People had parked their cars and were all out chatting to each other on the roadside.  The traffic jam held us up for more than an hour.  By the time our bus driver could get off to an exist, we had probably lost an hour and a half..

We ended up diverting from the motor way and going some back roads through some small villages to get back onto the motorway again.  This certainly put us behind for the day, however we did pass by some beautiful scenery, gentle green rolling hills, lots of sunflower fields.  We had a random toilet stop near a service station around 11.30am and then headed through to Bratislava where we had an hour and a half's stop.

Gary took us on a street walk to the market square.  We all actually really liked Bratislava, it was a very pretty and clean town.  The buildings have all be cleaned and done up especially in the last 5 years or so.

We had lunch with Trevor and Colleen (a NZ couple).  They ordered lunch and coffee, where we just ordered drinks.  I ordered a citrus lemonade and Steve ordered a hot chocolate.

My drink arrived and not only did it look really good it tasted divine as well.  It was quite a large glass of lemonade with all sorts of cut up citrus fruits in it.

Steve on the other hand ordered a hot chocolate (as in a drink) and a bowl of melted chocolate came out in a bowl for him.  It was so not what he wanted but it bought fits of laughter from the rest of us and I think he enjoyed it anyway.  Good thing he loves chocolate.

 He went for a little wander further along the street whilst I sat and waited with Sharon (from Melbourne) for him to return.

We had a little wander around the Square taking a few photos before we had to be back at the Opera House to met up with Gary and to head back to the bus.

We left Bratislava around 3.50pm with still a two hour drive ahead of us.  Once in Hungary, we couldn't get over the vast number of wind generators that we saw.  They were in concentrated groups and large numbers of them.

About an hour before we got into Budapest we got caught up in traffic on the motorway again and everything once again had come to a standstill.

It turned out there were a couple of accidents on the motorway this time.  The first one we came across was a two car pileup.  We passed it and the traffic was still backed up and another kms or two down the motorway, there was another pile up with 5 cars involved in this one.

We didn't get to our hotel until around 7pm and oh my goodness it was just drop dead gorgeous.  By far the nicest accommodation we have had so far.  The whole foyer area i all made of marble, beautiful grand staircase, golden statutes.  We almost felt like royalty staying here.
Grand Ballroom
Grand Ballroom

We had about an hour to get to our rooms and unload our gear before we had to be back in the foyer at 8pm to go on our dinner cruise down the Danube River.
This time we had a local guide by the name of Caitlyn who came with us to give us some history about Budapest.  By the time we got on the board the boat it was 8.30pm.  Once again we had the boat to ourselves and the first part of our cruise had us enjoying wonderful Hungarian food.  We started with some amazing salads, and a special mushroom salad in a tomato based sauce.

For our main meal we had Hungarian Goulash with Dumplings, a paprika chicken dish with steamed rice and thirdly we had Pork rolled in cabbage leaves with saultcrat (cabbage) served with sour cream (very nice).  We had 3 different sorts of Hungarian cakes, one walnut with white chocolate, another was some sort of cake with chocolate sauce and cream.  All of them were very tasty.  As we boarded the boat we were handed a glass of champagne and then there were bottles of both red and white wines on our table.  It was a candle lit dinner and we finished with fruit, wine and cheese.

By the time we had eaten our meal we had headed right up the river, so for the return trip we sat up top of the boat to see the beautiful night lights of Budapest.  How absolute stunning and spectacular it was.  We even got treated to a firework display over one of the bridges.  It really was quite a magical evening....

As we cruised down the river our guide Caitlyn told us about some of the beautiful lit up buildings, we saw as we cruised by.  The Royal Palace was beautifully lit up.  We learnt that the Palace has been completely rebuilt since the war as it was completely destroyed during World War 2, not even a chair was left standing.  Unfortunately they have not been able to refurbish it to its former glory because of the cost.  The palace now houses a couple of museums.  It was the historical castle and palace complex of Hungarian Kings in Budapest and was first completed in 1265.  It has been rebuilt a few times since it was first built...

In October of 1944 Nazi German commando units occupied the Royal Palace and forced the regent to abdicate.   It was destroyed by the Secret Red Army in February 1945.  This was considered one of the biggest disasters of Hungarian military history.

Perhaps the most impressive building lit up on the tour was the Hungarian Houses of Parliament.  it was very impressive and looked magnificent all lit up.  It is one of Europe's oldest legislative buildings, a notable landmark of Hungary and a popular tourist attraction of Budapest.  It lies in Lajoo Kossuth Square on the banks of the Danube River.  It is currently the largest building in Hungary and still the tallest building in Budapest.  The Parliament Building is in the Gothic Revival style.  It has a symmetrical facade and a central dome.  The main facade overlooks the River Danube, and there are altogether 242 sculptures on the walls.

The facade displays statutes of Hungarian rulers, Transylvanian leaders and famous Military figures.  The coats of arms of Kings and Dukes are depicted over the windows and east stairs are flanked by two lions.

Our cruise ended around 10:30pm and then it was back to our bus and onto our hotel.  Our days are full and long and by the time we get back to our rooms, bathed etc it is often after midnight.


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