Saturday, October 20, 2018

Budapest & Eger Hungary

October 2-4, 2018

We had three days in Budapest. We had a city bus tour, explored on our own and enjoyed the indoor market and a ruin bar, took a bike ride around the city and along the Danube, and toured Eger for visits to two wineries.

The winery trips were a highlight. After a tour of the tunnels at the first winery (the city is honeycombed with over 60 miles of tunnels, some built before the 13th century to provide safe harbor against invading Turks) we were given a taste of the region's premier wine, Bikavér, which translates to "Bull's Blood". Working in groups we were challenged to make a blend that tasted the same using wines from four different varietals. It was great fun. The owner's daughter judged all of our products as tasting very "American", but declared our table's blend to come second closest to the original. It was an interesting exercise in tuning our tastes!

The second winery was recently carved into limestone cliffs. The owner bought the property, which had previously been used as a limestone quarry, and created a venue for concerts and festivals, as well as his winery. There we had a wonderful "local" lunch while enjoying three different wines.

Gal Tibor Winery
A modern tasting room contrasts with its ancient tunnels

Bolyki Winery
The newly carved-out winery made to look ancient

This cavern was carved out of the limestone by machines.

Pictures of Eger, Hungary

Minaret from 17th Century
Built under Ottoman rule in this area

Statue recognizing women's role in ancient battles,
the woman is depicted throwing rocks from the castle walls.

Ancient Turkish bath

Original city walls

End of town square with castle fortification above

We liked Eger. It is more of a college town than a tourist destination, so we had a better sense of the people, even if we were there for just a short period of time. 

The Original "Ruin Bar" SzimpiaKert
Derelict buildings and open spaces were turned into places to grab an inexpensive beer in the early 2000's. They have an eclectic mix of discarded furniture and unusual "art". 

We came on the trip with friends... and made new friends with others. 

Pictures of Bucharest

Matthias Church
Buda side of the river

This was our only rainy day...
and by the time we finished the driving portion of our tour,  the rain had all but stopped.

Another plague pillar outside of the church

The raven carrying a gold ring was King Matthias' heraldic emblem.
There are different stories behind the ring.
Note the elaborate tile roof which has been dutifully, and beautifully, restored.

 The church is exquisite inside.
It has undergone multiple rebuilding & renovation activities since it was built in the 11th century.

St. Stephan's Statue

A bronze model for the blind depicting Matthias Church, the Fishermen's Bastion 
and the surrounding statues.

The view from Fishermen's Bastion

 The view from the river 

 The Great Market Hall
The oldest and largest indoor market

More pics from the Pest side

We toured Budapest on our first river cruise in 2006. We found the city to be dirty and depressing. There was a lot of graffiti on buildings and trolleys, and the people seemed oppressed. It was a welcome surprise to see how much cleaner and more vibrant the city has become.

Budapest at night is simply gorgeous. The ship moved from a downtown dock one night to one a few miles away where it would be easier to offload and load luggage. Our cruise could be taken as two separate one-week cruises, or as a nineteen day cruise with stay overs at either end. We were doing the complete package, so reveled in the fact that we did not have to pack and have our suitcases outside the door at whatever awful hour our plane reservations would dictate! While we were at the wineries, 80 new passengers were arriving and getting settled in. That night the ship cruised back to the downtown area so we could again see the amazing lights, and be in position for a city activity the next morning.


  1. Replies
    1. I was terrible in History and Geography in school, so I am drinking in the history and trying to make sense of the bits and pieces and the timing of all of the events!


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