Freechoice activities are on offer to choose from this morning:
Budapest in Depth: Explore this magical city by coach. Visit both Buda and Pest, the two districts that are separated by the Danube that make up the city. Starting on the Buda side see the Várkert Bazár before crossing the Margaret Bridge to the Pest side where you will see Széchenyi square and Elizabeth square.
Budapest’s Past & Present: This walking and coach tour will give insight on Budapest’s communist past and life today as part of the European Union, including the 1956 Hungarian revolution and the significant Jewish events that have shaped modern culture.
Thermal Baths: Budapest is known for its thermal waters and today you can relax in the natural hot springs at Gellert Baths. The baths are said to have medicinal properties and are warm year-round allowing for a luxurious soak no matter what the season.
Guided hike to Buda Hill: Strap on your walking shoes for a beautiful hike up to the World Heritage-listed site of Buda Hill. On your walk, see Matthias Church and walk to the
Fisherman’s Bastion, all while enjoying great views over the Danube River and the city landscape.
This afternoon is at leisure: Perhaps you may like to hop on board Scenic’s e-bikes (electronically assisted bicycles) to explore the city on two wheels or find one of the city’s famous ruin bars – housed in abandoned buildings – to enjoy an afternoon drink. Alternatively, make your way back to your luxury Scenic Jade to relax in the Panorama Lounge & Bar.
You will set sail for Vienna later this afternoon.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Kevin, Diana, Karen, Kim, Cory and I chose the City and Hospital in the Rock and Nuclear Bunker Tour – a former top secret nuclear bunker and emergency hospital. We started with a ‘city bus tour’ to Hero’s Square where we were able to have a walk around the monument. Christine and Piotr went on a different city tour. After lunch Karen, Piotr and I headed to the Great Market Hall for some Paprika and a couple of T-Shirts for Kevin since the lost luggage is still on its own journey. We went up on deck when we set sail for Vienna around 3:00 pm. After dinner we went up again to watch the sun set then back to the lounge to watch the Hungarian Dancers.
Heroes’ Square is one of the major squares in Budapest, Hungary noted for its iconic Millennium Monument with statues featuring the Seven chieftains of the Magyars and other important Hungarian national leaders, as well as the Memorial Stone of Heroes. On the left is the Museum of Fine Arts and on the the right, the Palace of Art.
Across Andrássy Avenue are two buildings – one is residential and the other one is the Embassy of Serbia in Budapest (former Yugoslavian embassy where Imre Nagy, leader of the revolutionary party, secured sanctuary in 1956).
Hospital in the Rock and Nuclear Bunker was built underneath the Buda Castle district in a 10 km long natural cave system. The cave system has been used by people since the Middle Ages, 13th century wells were dug and they were used for chilling wine and storing food.
In WWII, the halls and tunnels were used as refuges. Then in 1941 the construction of a first-aid shelter which could withstand the blasts of bombing was started. The underground medical institute opened three wards and one modern operating theatre in February 1944. The Hospital was in constant use in full capacity during the siege of Budapest (1944-45), when both civilians and injured soldiers were treated there at the same time. Volunteers of the Hungarian and International Red Cross helped the staff during these extremely hard times. The Hospital closed its gates in July, 1945 – but remained in use for producing vaccines against typhus by the Vaccine-Producing Institute. The institution was re-opened as a functioning hospital in 1956, at the start of the Revolution. In 1958 it was expanded and upgraded to a nuclear bunker, which was designed to survive any nuclear or chemical attack while still functioning as a self-supplying hospital. One of the engines that operated the generator are still in working condition.
Although the Hospital in the Rock was never formally decommissioned, it is no longer a hospital. Before opening its gates to the general public as a historical museum attesting the times of WW2 and later the Cold Ward, its caves were used as a storage facility until 2002. It was renovated with the help of the Military and History Institute and Museum in 2007. Visitors were welcomed the same year.
Christine and Piotr with Uncle Karl who has been standing in the market square since 1987. The “Fat Policeman” statue was created by Finnish sculptor Kaarlo Mikkonen (1920-2001). Nicknamed Uncle Karl, the affable bronze copper is clad in a circa-mid-20th-century uniform, complete with a dated helmet and a dapper mustachio.
He is notable for his belly, which has a golden patina—a clear sign that it has been rubbed by many. Local superstition has it that rubbing his belly grants you good luck and immunity against weight gain so that one can enjoy as much Hungarian food as they like.
Soviet War Memorial – The monument was built by Károly Antal and honors the soldiers of the Red Army who died in 1944-1945 during the liberation of Budapest. The monument consists of an obelisk with a crest showing the Communist hammer and sickle. At the bottom is a bas-relief of Soviet soldiers engaged in battle. The obelisk is crowned with a five-pointed Communist star.
The Great Market Hall, built in 1897, has 3 floors of vendors and places to eat or stop for a coffee break.
Buda Castle – the historical castle and palace complex was first completed in 1265. The Baroque palace today was built between 1749 and 1769. Today it houses the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest Historical Museum.
Views along the Danube as we continue to Vienna.