Monday, May 20, 2013
This morning was really brisk and pretty. Before we met up outside of the Hungarian Parliament building in Budapest for a tour, we enjoyed the nice weather and took some photos at Heroes Square. After driving to the Parliament, we wound our way through the construction zone outside to enter. The inside of the building was absolutely breathtaking!
We got to see the Assembly Hall of the House of Magnates and the accompanying numbered cigar holders that sit on the window sills just outside of the room. We also saw the Holy Crown of Hungary and its accompanying guards, who did the ceremonial changing while we were in the room.
We did a driving tour around the city and up to Gellert Hill to get an astounding panorama of the two cities, Buda and Pest, with the river Danube that separates them: Onward to Buda Castle and Fishermen’s Bastion for another incredible view:
While in the Castle, Tavis and I wandered around and did a bunch of random stuff: Listening to the longest set of church bells ever, holding a bird of prey, searching out the delicious cinnamon pastries that we could smell from nearly a block away and taking the group Contiki picture.
I so wish that we would have taken it in Berlin or Prague, because by Budapest we had already lost close to 15 people.
After we left the Castle, everyone else was going to the famous Baths. Unfortunately, I did not pack a swimsuit and I was not actually interested in being seen in public in one anyway, so I declined to go. I got off the coach on the Pest side of Chain Bridge with Tavis, Andrea and Stephen, who had a friend from Toronto with whom they were planning on spending the afternoon. They graciously invited Tavis and me to join them for lunch, bless them. I was still dealing with a stomach that was on the fritz and nothing really sounded appetizing, so following someone who knew what was where was relieving.
We went to a Turkish place and I got some kind of stuffed pita sandwich that was good, but I don’t think I ate much of it. We sat there and talked for a bit and then wandered back to the sightseeing part of town. We went through St Stephan’s Cathedral, where you can deposit cash to see a light show around the namesakes preserved hand. Interesting to say the least.
Tavis and I left the three of them after the cathedral to wander around and shop. I was bound and determined to find one of the famous Hungarian secret boxes and a Rubik’s cube (invented by a Hungarian sculptor/professor of architecture). You see, because that’s what so many people want to take home as a souvenir, most of what you find are cheap and flimsy. I wanted to find a really nice, well made box even if it cost me 3 or 4 x the price of the others. We ended up finding some that I liked similar to this:
We met up back at chain bridge to be picked up, and went back to the hotel to have time to freshen up before dinner.
While at the hotel, we had time to get Luce and Levi’s tip envelopes taken care of. SO much easier said than done. It took me no less than an hour to write out my thanks to them, since I was crying incessantly. I don’t know why I cried so much at the end of this trip… possibly some combination of exhaustion, sickness and estrogen.
We all hung out in the lobby, waiting to leave for our dinner cruise down the Danube, when some dude walked his WOLF through the lobby. Now, I’m being serious, right now. I am not talking about some husky hybrid. I asked the guy, and this dog was a legit wolf. He said I could pat him, and apparently no one ever loves that poor dog, because as soon as I touched him he jumped up on me. He was actually taller than me, and proceeded to take full advantage of that fact and lick my face. He got a little carried away and gave me a legitimate love bite… ON MY FACE. Candace is incredible, because she got the money shot!
We ate an incredible dinner on the boat and then got to see the city lights at night. It was a complete masterpiece! We all talked and hugged and took lots of pictures. I did not cry on the boat, but was planning on skipping the karaoke afterwards to go back and pack and get some sleep before my 10 hour flight from Warsaw. I got the biggest guilt trip on the coach on the way to the bar, even though I was trying to save my tour mates the awkwardness of my tearful hugs. So I went to karaoke, sang my song after Brianne, who is a freaking ringer and blew us all away with her rendition of I Wanna Dance with Somebody by madame Houston, cried like Kim Kardashian while hugging everyone and then snuck out to get a cab back with Tavis, Akhil and Hanisha.
I’m a little heart-broken just writing this, because talking about this wonderful trip makes me miss everyone so much! Enjoy my video montage of the trip and go see the world. It’s full of the best people… and food… but it’s really the people who make it. Love you Contiki mates!
This is the video montage I made after the trip. Watching it makes me happy and I hope you get some idea of how much fun we had. 6 countries. 3 weeks. Nearly 65 people.