Embarkation today, Friday Sept. 26th

Rise and shine.DSC_4942

We asked for a room looking at the Chain Bridge when we arrived and the front desk girl squeezed up her face in some quizzical look, surrounded by the lobby’s pandemonium, and turned us down.  Oh, well…we will get whatever they give us – this InterContinental Hotel couldn’t be in a better location for walking the city.  So, from our Room 905 (top floor) we can see the top of the new, gigantic Ferris Wheel (this Mr. Ferris must have been to Europe, too)  and – wow – the sun rises here as well.

Good morning from Budapest.

Last night was superb!  The Gypsy Dinner deal sounded weak to everyone.  And, a friend of Marilyn and Joe Miller (the friend had been on the same cruise), told Millers that we should skip it.  Well, the Nance signed up anyway…and our other buddies eventually all joined in, too.  In addition to our high school buddies (the aforementioned Millers plus Pam and Al Stewart) we are joined by the Stewarts’ friends, Marianne and Lee Strohmeyer from Franklin Lakes, NJ.  The mandatory group photo will follow at some point.


Elizabeth Square is the location of the huge Wheel and, also, of the dinner’s venue – the Kempinski Hotel Budapest.  What an outstanding architectural tour de force inside the hotel.

Here is the room, showing our beginning choices for hors d’oeuvres.DSC_0078DSC_0079

Then the rest of the room with our tables.DSC_0077 Only 17 eaters selected this Gypsy Dinner choice

I didn’t get a photo, but we had our own vineyard owner/winemaker to explain his pairings.

And the 4 piece Gypsy band.  The guy playing the Dulcimer was magical (looks like they ripped off the top of a small piano and he’s banging on the strings with hammers).DSC_0076

The band’s leader – James Bango…on the right in next photo – sold us his CD for 5,000 Hungarian Forints; $15 US.


We ordered from the menu after this early feast and then, after the entree, the sideboard was filled with dessert choices.  Even the coffee was top notch.  Full and swaying with violin waltz music (plus some show tunes from Phantom), we boarded the bus as groggy, happy folks.

Forints are the local currency…no Euro yet.DSC_5025

Coming back on the bus, we could see the Palace in the Buda Hills again from our Pest side of the Danube.


Here’s our bus with Al Stewart (Big Stew or Slick) using what became known as “Chip’s door”, since I didn’t want to wait in line at the front door, plus I got a big picture window back there for my photos.DSC_0064

Earlier, Nancy went to the supermarket to get some supplies and we studied the register receipt because I suspected that they over-charged us tourists.  It turns out that Hungary has among the highest tax rates in the Euro Zone…it’s a 27% VAT.  So, the bill was right, but we will not be rushing out to buy any of those eggs or smocks we saw earlier.  We have Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic as future choices for our large buying sprees.DSC_5019

Today, we put our luggage out at 10, check out at noon – skip the offered side tours – and will amble around the Danube perhaps to the Parliament (largest in Europe), St. Stephen’s Cathedral and might tackle that Ferris Wheel.  Embarkation (that’s getting on the boat for the simpler folks) is at 3:45PM, when we meet Helmut, our river cruise guide for the next 7 days. (Kris…I wonder if it’s the guy who used to take our coats at the Club?)

More to come…hopefully some sunset photos from the fantail of our water cruise craft on the way to Vienna.


Lifelong Philadelphia area Realtor. Now a 13-year citizen of Sanibel, Florida. Married to Nancy for 54 years. Three children (2 in Devon; 1 in Steamboat Springs, CO) and 5 grandkids (2 in college). Helping with charities involving poverty, kids and education.

One comment

  • Once again I am in awe of this great trip. Hope it is Helmut . Maybe he will give you some extra PCC care! HA!. Off to pick up the Finucanes and their friends the Basses who live in Boca Grande. Gorgeous weather here . We have full few days ahead. Tomorrow Holy Child football for the guys and then Longwood for all.


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