A 16 Hour Journey
After a nearly 16-hour journey from Indianapolis, including layovers, we arrived at Budapest Airport in early afternoon. I wondered what adventures awaited us these next two weeks as I took in my first views of Europe and the Danube River through the plane window as it descended into the city of Budapest. Europe was six hours ahead of Indiana, but besides feeling a bit hungry because of having to eat later than usual, there wasn’t much travel fatigue, which was good, because I didn’t want to waste any time resting!
Shortly after boarding the ship, we were welcomed with a reception. The crew leaders, including manager, chef and cruise director, stood at the doorway of the lounge to meet us as we entered. They were an international group, and I enjoyed hearing the various accents from their different countries. Servers walked among us, offering colorful bite sized selections from platters and sparkling champagne in fluted glasses. After their introductions and welcoming remarks, we remained seated while the cruise director Kane discussed highlights of our current port, Budapest, to prepare us for the next day’s city tour. He then introduced Chef Adrian, who, in his tall white chef’s hat, described proudly the dishes for our upcoming meal, as if he had been cooking all day just for this moment. Chef Adrian’s daily announcements and descriptions of each evening’s dinner selections were comforting routines that I grew to love.
Then the group headed down to either the dining room, or the few tables on the glass enclosed Aquavit deck. It was open seating, and some guests who arrived in groups who desired to sit together, quickly claimed tables and saved seats for their friends. For Jerry and me, we wandered about the dimly lit dining room, then randomly sat down at an 8-person table near the door. From this first night, several people had already chosen their eating spots that they used for the rest of the cruise, as was the case for us. We ended up with three delightful couples as dinner companions. They were an eclectic bunch, from England, Florida, and Tazmania and we primarily dined with them from that point on.
Beer and wine were complimentary with lunch and dinner, which included locally produced selections. After the first night’s drink orders, the servers remembered our preferences and endeavored to bring us the same drinks for the rest of our trip.
Though completely stuffed and satiated from our first meal onboard, THE BEST WAS YET TO COME!! That night was Hungary’s Independence Day Celebration!! That meant fireworks on the river. AND WE WERE RIGHT ON THE RIVER!!
We gathered on deck, and watched the most beautiful and extravagant display of fireworks I had ever seen, shot off the bridges directly in front of us! The crew also filed onto the top of the ship, sitting in tight clusters on the steps to take in the amazing display. For the next half hour, vivid hues exploded into the night sky, filling the blackness with thick clusters of bright, intense colors that reflected off the Danube River below. The effect was spectacular. For the finale, solid waves of bright gold seemed to pour into the river off a bridge as blue drones, launched from a nearby cliff, flew overhead in a patterned formation. What a first night in Budapest!!
Coming up next: Budapest City Tour!
If you weren’t able to start at the beginning of this Viking River Cruise, click here to start this journey!
Experience the Glorious Mouth Watering Food on a Viking Cruise