Today was a day for limited sightseeing, as we joined our cruise ship, the Scenic Jasper, early in the day and spent a good deal of time on board preparing for our river journey to Amsterdam.
Today is the official starting date of the first cruise of Scenic’s cruising season, so the ship was sparkling after a spring clean and the crew were pumped and ready to welcome us aboard. After a brief introduction to the workings of everything in our room from our ‘butler’ Giovanni, we headed down the long corridor to the far end of the ship and sat down to lunch.
It was quite a view from the lunch table, as the ship’s current berth is directly opposite the Hungarian parliament buildings. Marg and I left the boat (actually, we scanned ourselves ‘out’ like kids leaving school early) and walked down to the base of Buda Hill.
We took a bus up to the first stop and walked from there. The pink blossom trees lining the castle wall were all in bloom and quite beautiful. I took some time to visit the Hospital in the Rock, a WWII hospital that was constructed in the labyrinth of caves directly beneath the castle. As the Russian troops laid siege to Budapest and inflicted massive casualties on the Hungarian soldiers and their German allies, the number of patients in the subterranean hospital seeking treatment swelled into the hundreds.
Time was short, as we had to be back on board the ship by a given time, so we skipped the cathedral visit and made our way back to its pier.
Back on board we sat down in the lounge for a drink. It didn’t take long to meet other people, and the time passed quickly as we chatted for a while leading up to the welcome and introductory briefing from the cruise director and her team. After dinner we were treated to a night cruise along the Danube, past the illuminated landmarks on both sides of the river. Tomorrow morning we will explore Budapest once more, and in the afternoon we will leave for Vienna.