St. Stephen’s Day

Sunday, 20 August, 2017 – weather: Grey, drizzling but slowly improved

Q: What is St Stephen’s Day? The following has been extracted from the Net.

August 20th is the greatest national holiday for Hungarians, celebrated with day-long festivities followed by spectacular fireworks throughout the country. August 20th commemorates the foundation of the Hungarian state, it’s like Hungary’s 4th of July. Also called as St. Stephen’s Day, remembering Stephen I, the first king of Hungary and founder of the Kingdom of Hungary, who was canonized on August 20th, 1083 by Pope Gregory VII.

Festivities start in the morning with the raising of the Hungarian flag and continue on all day long, culminating in a spectacular fireworks display over the Danube.

So, this is the second unexpected public holiday we have encountered in the last week. This one did not cause us many troubles, just some street closings that affected our bus travel around the city.

We had travelled down the Danube from Vienna over night and are just arriving at Budapest in the morning.

Budapest ahead

The first of 8 Bridges over the Danube

We were told a funny story about the naming of this bridge. It seems that there was an Internet contest to name the bridge. Before too long, and for no good reason, the popular choice was Chuck Norris! USA late night TV host, Steven Colbert, would did not like that so asked his viewers to vote for his name instead. It “won” in a landslide. So the Hungarian authorities did not want that name but told him that name of the bridge name could be his on two conditions:

(1) He spoke fluent Hungarian and
(2) He was dead

Naturally, Steven Colbert pulled out of the race and they named it something blah instead.

Arriving into Budapest

When we dock, we find that we are docked stacked to three other boats so we are the fourth in line. The weather is not very good at all as it is drizzling and grey, you might see some of the clouds in the previous picture.

This is also the last day of the Scenic boat tour. So after the usual breakfast we hop onto a bus for our morning activity. We have to walk through all three of the docked boats nearer the shore to get out. There were three choices for tours:

(1) In depth Budapest City tour
(2) Hospital in the Rock
(3) Spa and Bath Szechenyi

Since we had spent several days in Budapest last year, our selection is the last one – hopefully a relaxing spa will be a big help for the trip home. Scenic decides to take the bus up to the peak on the Buda side on the way to our ultimate destination. Again we had been up there last year so only a couple of photos here.

A fort in back of the peak which was built by the Hapsburgs and which blocks the view in that direction

Overlooking primarily the Pest side

We drive back down the hill and cross into the Pest side. We run into some problems with closed roads which cause detours but eventually we arrive at the old building where the multiple spas are.

Entering the spas

Milos, the boat’s head Butler, was there to give us our entry tickets which turned out to be an wrist band with electronic ID. We go in and find a locker which cleverly locks by pressing the wrist band to the locker. As I left my phone in the locker, I did not take any photos during my time in the water. The following is after I had gotten out and got dressed.

The main spa pool in which I had spent most of my time

The water temperature in that pool was 37-38 degrees, delightful. The sprays in the middle gave a massage type sensation. Julie joined me in the pool but after a while she headed off to see if she could get a massage.

To the left of that pool was a major sized lap pool. In the building in the back were a number of smaller in door spa pools. I had a look at them but did not go into any of them, I was content with the main pool. After I got dressed, I took that photo and settled into a seat for a while. The weather was improving but still not great. I could imagine that it would be a delight to spend an afternoon here in warm weather. Any way, after a while and on time, the bus arrives to take us back to the boat. All in all the spa experience was not as good as the Hotel Spa on the island last year, more about this later, but definitely worthwhile and definitely better than one of the other two walking tours.

Back at the boat, Julie spends most of the afternoon packing her suitcase. The ability to unpack everything, put them into cupboards and drawers, slide the suitcase under the bed and not even see the suitcase for 2 weeks was one of the best aspects of being on the cruise. Me, I decide I would wait until tomorrow morning to do my packing to extend the pleasure one more day. I move into my “office” in the bar to do more work on the Blog.

I had been given this bottle of “smoked beer” earlier in the journey so decided to try it now

Apparently the normal reaction the first time that one tries the smoked beer is that they do not like it but by the third or fourth glass one loves it. I though it was OK although perhaps not my favourite of all time. I gave the second half of the bottle to friend Joe and I don’t think that he liked it. Then at 6:00 we were treated to a Hungarian Folklore Show.

The show consisted of a 3 piece band and 4 dancers

The dancers, especially the guys, were extremely lively.

Just the girls dancing

The girls danced with some of the audience

The band played a solo piece.

Which enabled the dancers tohave a change of costume (note Julie and Larry in the foreground)

Very energetic and entertaining. We are then given a detailed explanation of the departure from the boat tomorrow. Once again extremely well organised albeit we are going to have to be out of our rooms quite early in the morning. Then it is time for the Last Supper.

Fresh water crayfish (Yabbies to Australians)

Soup

Broth

Vegetarian dish

Goulash, after all we are in Hungary

Fancy dessert

Another kind of dessert for Mary

Fruit

The boat crew decide to move down closer to where the fireworks are to be at 9:00. Sadly, we could not go past the main bridge as there were too many boats parked in the river there so there was no room for our big barge to fit. As a result, none of the photos worked out but it was a nice try any way. Back to the original docking place.

There was music and dancing upstairs

But we have an early start and a long day tomorrow so it is off to bed.

About beauperi

Gourmand & Wine Connoisseur.
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