Viking River Cruise - - Day Three, Sun 10/11/16
Neither of us slept very well. Mom had nightmares, and I fell asleep immediately but was on and off after 2:30 AM. I'm sure I slept more than I think, but not as much as I'd like.
I'll take more pictures of our room, but here's two to start with:
Of course the day started with breakfast. We had an unusually early morning, because our excursion was leaving at 8 AM. So we were up around 6:30 and in the dining room at just past 7. Our table mates were two couples in their 70s: Dianna and Tom, and Teri and Bob. Dianna and Teri had been roommates their first year in college, and both couples had been high school sweethearts. Dianna and Tom live somewhere in southern California, Teri and Bob live in Minnesota. So we had plenty to talk about. And plenty to eat: Mom and I had oatmeal, I put strawberries, raisins, and bananas in mine. I also had a lovely piece of wheat toast with strawberry, rhubarb, and balsamic marmalade made on board. Delicious. And great coffee, too.
We got off the ship, which ordinarily wouldn't be worthy of mention, but this morning, we walked off our ship onto another Viking ship that was parked closer to shore - - and then up the gangplank. We boarded a bus and met our local guide, a wonderful young woman named Szilia, pronounced like Celia. She was an ever-flowing font of information on Hungarian history and culture. And she had the cutest accent: my favorite thing is she said the C in the word "century" in the Castilian manner, so she talked about a building dating back to the "sixteenth thentury". It was very cute. I didn't pick up on any other word where she used that pronunciation. I kept waiting for her to say "circle" or "circuitous", but I waited in vain.
We drove up the hills to the Citadella, which was built in the hills above Budapest in 1851, after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 (thank you, Wikipedia). Soviet troops occupied the Citadella in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. We had a fantastic view of the city:
Another highlight of the Citadella was the Statue of Liberty, erected in 1947 in what was at that time known as the "Soviet liberation of Hungary" - - the Soviets liberated Hungary from the Nazis, but they traded one hideous regime for another. Welcome to freedom, here are your new shackles. Here's a picture of the Statue of Liberty, and my mom taking a picture of it:
Szilia told us that her mother had gone to nursing school with the young woman who had been the model for the Statue of Liberty. This young nursing student was walking down the street one day and the sculptor saw her and said, "THAT is my Statue of Liberty!" If I were a more cynical person, I'd say that she made this up. It sounds a little too much like the story about Colette seeing a young Audrey Hepburn in the street and saying, "THAT is my Gigi!" Which probably isn't true, either.
Back on the bus, and off to Matthias Church in the Castle District. Gorgeous church, with classic Hungarian tile work on the roof. The man who designed the church was criticized for wasting money on tile for the roof, and his response was that the birds should have something beautiful to look at, too. How cute is that. Here's the church, and the statue of St. Matthew just outside:
We were cut loose for about an hour and a half, so we found a cafe where we could sit down (and use the bathroom). It was a tiny place, about eight tables. We got one of their house specialties, hot chocolate with gingerbread seasoning. The gingerbread bit was subtle, we liked it a lot. And we split an order of bruschetta, which was homemade and tasty. We got back on the bus and drove further down the coast, to meet the ship. We passed a few sets of Roman ruins - - who knew that the Romans were in Hungary?
Back on the ship. Mom took a nap. I grabbed a quick lunch in the Aquavit Lounge, which is a self-serve buffet area off the main lounge. I had a bowl of carrot ginger soup with what might have been fried ginger as a garnish, fantastic.
Our Program Director Lee did presentations on Vienna coffeehouses and Mozart. Of course I could come up with a few valuable tweaks to the Mozart presentation, but I'm not one to butt in, am i? I saw Bob (of the two couples we had met at breakfast), he and I had a nice talk, he's a charming guy. The captain did a dry and technical overview of the works of the ship. Mom came in just before the strudel demo. The two pastry chefs chose a couple of older ladies to make strudel. It was cute, and the ladies appeared to do a good job.
Do I need to mention that I'm the youngest guest on board? There are employees who are younger than I, but I'm the youngest guest by at least five years. It's not a problem at all, I just thought it was worthy of mention.
We had dinner with the two couples. They are a real find, and we more or less agreed to have every meal with them. Which is lucky, because you could be stuck with some real dogs in a situation like this. I'm sure we'll keep in touch with them when the cruise is over.
Here's what we had for dinner. Mom: arugula and watermelon, risotto with steamed vegetables, Esterhazy cake (a layer cake made with hazelnuts). Me: roasted tomato soup with basil foam, chateaubriand with potato croquettes and béarnaise sauce, Esterhazy cake. Everything, of course, fantastic. We compared notes with the other four about our tours of Budapest (they had been in a different group). Here's a cute picture of Dianna with her chocolate cake, and Mom with the Esterhazy cake (with my glass of milk in the foreground):
We rushed back to the room for a 9 PM Skype date with Richard. And rats, we weren't able to get it to work - - I could see and hear him, and he could see me but not hear me. That was a disappointment.