Viking River Cruise: Grand European Tour

If you’ve watched Downton Abbey or any other Masterpiece! presentation, you’ve seen the commercials showing Viking’s longships cruising the world’s rivers.

My husband F. and I are setting out on the Viking River Cruises Grand European Tour. We had a 10-hour direct Delta flight from Sea-Tac (Seattle-Tacoma) International Airport to Amsterdam. After a layover of just under two hours in Amsterdam, we caught a one hour and 40 minute flight to Budapest, where we were met by representatives from Viking and taken to our ship, Vidar. We left Sea-Tac in the early afternoon of May 31 and arrived in Europe in the early afternoon of June 1.

Map of Viking River Cruises: Grand European Tour
Viking River Cruises: Grand European Tour

Neither F. nor I was able to sleep at all on the plane, so we were pretty exhausted by the time we arrived on board. Fortunately, our stateroom was ready as soon as we arrived. The ship’s personnel urged us to use our free time until dinner to walk around Budapest on our own, but we opted to take a nap instead. At dinner we discovered that just about everyone we talked to had done the same. We had no trouble falling right back to sleep after dinner.

This morning we had a tour of Budapest. We had a local Hungarian guide, who told us that the Hungarian pronunciation is Budapesht. The city comprises two formerly separate cities, Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube River. Buda is the older city, high on a hill, while the newer Pest is on lower ground across the river.

Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest
Fisherman’s Bastion, Budapest
Ceramic tile roof on Matthias Church, Budapest
Ceramic tile roof on Matthias Church, Budapest
Portion of Heroes' Square, Budapest
Portion of Heroes’ Square, Budapest

Hungary is famous for its paprika. The capsicum pepper plant used to make this popular seasoning was introduced to Hungary by the Turks in the 16th century. The spice’s pungency ranges from sweet to very hot. The brighter red the paprika, the hotter the spice. We made sure that the tins we bought to bring home were labeled “mild.”

Peppers used to make paprika
Peppers used to make paprika

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