27 October 2014

Europe River Cruise - Arrive at Budapest

Arrived at the airport of Budapest, the capital city of Hungary. We were received by a Scenic representative. We also met with the other passengers from the same flight who will be on the same Scenic cruise. We got on a bus to the Marriott hotel where we gather with the other passengers going for the cruise and passengers arriving from Amsterdam to await transport to the airport.

I guess the intend of gathering with the passengers at the hotel was two fold:
  1. Firstly for those going on the cruise, an opportunity to meet and start forming friendships for the cruise. 
  2. Secondly to meet with the passengers who are leaving and 'catch' their excitement of their cruise.
While waiting to board the Scenic Space-ship which was to be later in the afternoon, we took the opportunity to do a walk-about around the hotel and see Budapest on our own.

The first place of interest we found is the Vorosmarty Square in the heart of Budapest, where the Christmas Market is said to be held every year.  The square was named after Mihaly Vorosmarty, a renowned Hungarian poet whose statue is seen in the middle of the square.  However the main attraction of the square is the Gerbeaud Cafe, said to be a tenant of the square since 1870.

Not knowing the city very well we thought it's best to walk back towards the river bank. There we found a 50 cm statuette of the 'Little Princess' and Budapest's yellow tram. We then walked along the tram line and took note of some of the other statues and building of interest along the line, such as the statues of Hungary statesmen Jozsef Eotvos and Deak-Ferenc-emlekmu and the Las Vegas Casino, that's correct, a Las Vegas casino in Budapest.

Walking toward the Szechenyi Chain Bridge we then cross the River Danube that separate the Buda and Pest, the western and eastern part of the city of Budapest.

Crossing the bridge takes us to the Buda part of the city where the Buda Castle is located, on the southern tip of Castle Hill. It is a World Heritage site. The castle now houses the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum.

Coming off the Szechenyi Chain Bridge from the Pest side of the city, directly in front is the roundabout to the Buda Castle Tunnel, that allow cars to go under the castle, further into the Buda side of the city.  To the left of the tunnel is the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular, a short railway line that takes people up the Castle Hill, in comfort.

Not wanting to venture any further, crossing the Szechenyi Chain Bridge back to the Pest side of the city, we took in the view of the Hungarian Parliament Building.  It's an awesome Gothic style building.

Feeling a lot more confident of our sense of direction back to the Marriott hotel, we started walking back via the city centre looking for any shops of interest.

It was in one of the streets that we got a glimpse of the St. Stephen's Basilica. It is said to be largest church in Budapest, dedicated to Hungary's first king, St. Stephen.

Here's where I wished I did some research on Budapest.  If I had, we would have taken the time to see the inside of the basilica or at the very least walk to the basilica square for a more complete view of the church.

It was not one of Scenic Cruise place to visit when the cruise officially starts.

Europe River Cruise on the Scenic Crystal

Always wanted to do the European river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam on one of the Scenic Space-Ship Cruise that we saw advertised on TV. The idea of not having to pack and unpack at each township or city the ship travel to, sounds more appealing that the usual land tour via buses. As it is on a river and not the sea, no motion sickness to deal with. Buffet breakfast served every morning with most lunch and dinner meals included onboard the ship, it sounds pretty good.  All smiles here.

The space-ship cruise we got on is the Scenic Crystal, built in 2012, 135m in length, 11.4m in breadth, with a maximum speed of 22 km/h.  The ship has four decks boasting a selection of private suites, public lounge and dining venues.  It has a staff-to-guest ratio of 1:3, a wellness area and gym, Wi-Fi internet, e-bikes to explore the village, town or city the ship stopover for the day or night.

For a detail deck plan of the ship click here.

Now for a visual look of the Scenic Crystal. First the receptions area. Going up or down the stairs will lead to the many bedrooms as the stern (rear) of the ship. The opposite of the reception stairs is the bow (front) of the ship which leads to the lounge and dining area of the ship.

Going from the reception to the top is the sun deck with a view of the ship's wheelhouse at the bow (front) of the ship, in the background.

From the ship's reception, I could access the lounge and bar.

A view of the ship's kitchen and the dining area from one of the kitchen window.

The bedroom with a balcony.  Quite spacious and cosy.

Now, which of these two photos below shows the real captain of the ship?

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