The Grand European Tour

Part 7

Budapest, Hungary and The Long Awaited Doors Series of Photographs

Viking River Boats in Budapest
Viking River Boats in Budapest

Our voyage from Vienna to Budapest included a rare daytime transit through one of the many locks we encountered. I got some pretty good photos illustrating how they pack several ships into a lock to make the best use of them.

In the lock waiting for more ships to join us

We were the first Viking longboat to enter this lock. For perspective, we are heading downstream. So, as we enter the lock, we are on the high end. The Viking boat seen here will come right alongside us for the ride.

This is a view from the Sundeck looking between the two boats. We are just about close enough to shake hands with folks on the other boat.

Two Viking Longboats side by side

Space between shoreline and Viking Bragi

This was taken to show how close we were to the lock’s wall. This is how close we were for all lock operations throughout the entire voyage. There is just enough space between the boat and the wall to keep it from dragging.

A third ship was added to the lock. This ship was Ukrainian and much wider than our longboat. The rectangular building on the left side of the photo houses the lock’s gate. To get this ship in far enough to close the gate, they had to put it in at an angle. It was a tight fit for sure, but very efficient use of the lock.

A third ship was added to the lock.

The other side of this double lock.

Many of the locks we passed through were double locks meaning that the water was pumped from the high side to the low side, thereby lifting ships from the low side while lowering ships from the high side. There was only one ship moving up the river during this evolution. To avoid confusion, this photo was taken while we were moving downward, and the ship pictured was moving upward. I no longer remember why I was focused only on the wheelhouse and the ship captain’s car, but this was a very long grain ship.

Now that our side of the lock has been lowered to the level of the river downstream, the gates are opened, and we are free to move on. A quick note here. While we were side by side with the other Viking ship, one of the passengers on our ship noticed that a friend of his was on the other ship. They chatted throughout the transit.

The gates begin to open

Underway once again.  First in, first out.

After the gates were completely open, we were once again underway.

While on the Sundeck observing the lock operation, I had some time to take several photos unrelated to the operation. These photos highlight a few of the ship’s features I may have described in earlier posts.

This photo says a lot about the sundeck. The black portion is a walking path. It takes several laps to make a mile, but people walked nearly every day when the deck was open. The white structures on the right of the image are the support members for the sunscreens. They were in a position that allowed the tables and chairs to be out but not in use. This sort of midway position allows the crew to quickly open or close the deck depending on the river’s water level with respect to the space between the boat and the bottom of the many bridges along the river. The deck had been completely closed for several days because the river level was so high we could barely pass under many bridges with the entire superstructure, including lifelines, sunscreens, and even the pilot house as low as they would go.

Sundeck with walking path.

Solar panels

This is one set of solar panels mounted on that portion of the top deck where foot traffic is not allowed. Viking uses solar energy to augment the power from diesel generators, thereby reducing the fuel required to provide electricity to the ship. Current solar technology limits the sun’s contribution, but the engineers at Viking are doing their best to incorporate as many environmentally friendly features as possible.

As I am sure I mentioned along the way, David presented a briefing of the next day’s events every evening, including essential details such as when which tours would be leaving and from where. On the evening of September 21, David had expressed how important the briefing would be the following evening, as it was to include our Disembarkation Briefing. The end was nearing!

I will admit to having mixed feelings. We had been enjoying a trip of a lifetime and would have loved for it to continue. Of course, that was pretty impossible because, from our next port, Budapest, Hungary, the boat would load on an entirely new group of passengers and then make the reverse trip, eventually returning to Amsterdam. By now, I had asked more of my aching Achilles Tendon than I should have, and the walking tours were becoming painful. Meanwhile, Connie’s knees were talking to her, and she was looking forward to what was to follow; not all that long after we returned home, she would get the first of two knee replacements.

We arrived in Budapest at about 8:30 AM, and by 9:00 AM, we were boarding a bus for our chosen excursion, Panoramic Budapest. Our tour of Budapest was done by bus and as a walking tour. I will let the photos tell most of the story of this final day’s excursion.

The "Blue" Danube River near Budapest, Hungary

As we approached Budapest in the early morning, the fog was hovering over the river. The fog, the clouds, and the water all merged to create the famed “Blue Danube.”

St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in Budapest, Hungary – There were several churches with tall clock towers and belfries in Budapest. Towers punctuate the old city skyline.

St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in Budapest, Hungary

Calvinist Church, Budapest Hungary

This is Calvinist Church in the foreground. I specifically photographed this scene to highlight the reality of modern Budapest as it blends with the old city as witnessed by the tower cranes in the background.

Orthodox Cathedral of Our Lady is located on the banks of the Danube near the Elizabeth Bridge. I should point out that Budapest is the name of the combined cities of Pest and Buda. The Danube separated the two cities. In 1873 the two cities merged to form the city of Budapest, making it the second main city in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Orthodox Cathedral of Our Lady, Budapest, Hungary

Hungarian National Gallery

The Hungarian National Gallery is located in what was Buda Castle. Established in 1957, the museum houses collections covering Hungarian art in all genres, including the works of many nineteenth and twentieth-century Hungarian Artists

Vajdahunyad Castle – Museum of Hungarian Agriculture – This Austrian baroque-style building houses over 200,000 historic agricultural tools and artifacts. Sadly, we only saw it as we passed by on the bus.

Vajdahunyad Castle - Museum of Hungarian Agriculture

Memorial to the 1956 Revolution

Memorial to the 1956 Revolution – This photo and many others from this excursion were taken from a moving bus. I could not fix this image to remove the window glare, so I just kept it in its original as a reminder that I was on a bus when I made it. The 1956 Revolution was Hangary’s attempt to gain independence from the then-Soviet Union. Late in October of 1956, there was a spontaneous national uprising. Protesters had taken to the streets demanding a more democratic political system and freedom from Soviet oppression. The Communist Party responded by appointing Imre Nagy, a former premier who had been dismissed from the party for his criticisms of Stalinist policies. as the new Premier. Once Nagy had convinced the Soviets to remove troops from Hungary, he pushed the revolt forward by abolishing one-party rule. He also announced that Hungary was withdrawing from the Warsaw Pact. On November 4, 1956, Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest to crush, once and for all, the national uprising. Nagy was eventually executed for his efforts.

The uprising resulted in the death of 2500 Hungarians and 750 Soviet soldiers. 200,000 Hungarians were compelled to flee Hungary in hopes of better lives as refugees.

One final note. I noticed this memorial while the bus was stopped at a light. I snapped the photo having no idea what it was. Later, I did the research. At that point, I wondered why this time in the country’s history was not included in the tour guide’s remarks.

Hungarian Parliament Building – This photo was taken from the Buda side of the river. All previous photos with the river in the scene were taken from the Pest side. The building was completed in 1904 and was then and remains today the largest building in Hungary. Its four floors comprise 193,800 sq ft of space.

Hungarian Parliament Building

Shoes on the Danube Bank

Shoes on the Danube Bank – This very somber memorial honors the Jews massacred by fascist Hungarian Militia belonging to the Arrow Cross Party in Budapest during WWII. The people were ordered to remove their shoes before being shot and having their lifeless bodies topple into the Danube. The shoes were considered valuable property, while the souls who had worn them were not. The memorial was erected in April 2005.

The memorial is located near the Hungarian Parliament building.

Millenium Monument at Heroes' Square, Budapest

Millenium Monument at Heroes’ Square, Budapest – The monument has statues featuring seven chieftains of the Magyars and other important Hungarian National leaders. So that you know, I don’t know any of the people who were caught in my photo. They were part of another tour group. Getting a clean photo of this huge square and associated monuments would likely be impossible. I took several photos of segments of the memorial, and I hope to find the time to include them in my photo portfolio someday.

Following our city tour, we returned to the boat for lunch and a brief rest before returning to the last stop on the walking tour, which was this grand collection of small shops and markets housed in a former warehouse. The building is huge. The shops are many and of great variety. There are even several walk-up eating facilities. Of course, we were on a mission to find a few gifts for friends back home, but we also wanted to take in this beautiful place’s sights, sounds, and smells. Sadly, I only took one photo while there, and it was taken from the main entrance.

Central Market Hall – Since I only took one photo, here is a link to photographs from others. imgurl:×1024.jpg – Bing

Central Market Hall, Budapest, Hungary

We were accompanied on this little excursion by a few of our new friends, so once the shopping was done, we set our sights on a place between the market and the ship where beer might be found. Of course, we were successful. The photo below represents the last beer to be consumed on land before departing for the airport unreasonably early the next morning. (We did have a beer or glass of wine at dinner on the boat, though.)



From very early into this adventure, I started collecting images of some of the more interesting doors I have seen in all my years of traveling. While I have little to no idea what was behind most of the doors that appear below, I think they all have unique characteristics. I will let the photos tell the story.

The morning of September 24, 2022, came pretty early. We were up at around 3 or 3:30, and our bags were set out of our stateroom by 4. We enjoyed one more breakfast on the ship, albeit a continental breakfast versus the wonderful full breakfasts we had enjoyed for the past two weeks.

We then headed to the pier where we were to identify our luggage, supervise the driver load it on the bus, and then board the bus for the 20 – 30 minute drive to the airport. Our tour was over, and all that remained was a pair of flights back to Charlotte.

The flights were unremarkable in that there was no drama. Our first flight was between Budapest and London’s Heathrow Airport. As we got off the plane at Heathrow, we encountered probably the most stressful bit of the entire adventure, navigating the sprawling airport! Somehow, we found our way to where our flight to Charlotte would board, and then we backtracked to the last food we had seen and enjoyed an early lunch.

Without calling out any specific airline, I have to make a comparison between our outbound flight and our inbound flight. Both airlines were using the same Boeing aircraft model. However, the interiors were slightly different. On our outbound flight, we sat on the plane’s right side in a two-seat row with an aisle between us and a row of four, another aisle, and another row of two. For reasons I cannot explain, the legroom in that plane was not good even for this short man. On the return, same equipment, but a different airline, we had the same two seats on the other side of the plane. There was legroom galore! While that probably was reason enough to push to fly the second airline, the other huge difference was the food quality between the two. Again, airline number two was the clear winner.

This last photo was taken from the plane during our final approach to the Queen City of Charlotte, NC. We were very happy to be home but would soon be trying to determine our next destination and commence the planning. The destination has not been nailed down, but autumn might be the timeframe. So, stay tuned!

The Queen City
Nearly home!
Charlotte Cityscape



1 thought on “The Grand European Tour”

  1. Dear Frank and Connie! It was the trip of a lifetime and we enjoyed meeting both of you in the ship! An incredible journey. Funny we had the same airline impressions when Steve and I flew to internationally on one airline and returned on the other. We are also shorter. Quite a different experience. We would have loved more time in Budapest. Such an intriguing city and such amazing history. I remember the car on top of the ship! You reminded me I need to collect all my door photos! Loved the trip and love your posts. Thank you! Hoping we meet in person again.

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