10. The Danube and Estergom

Sunday 30 September

Timing everything to perfection, we got onto the number 2 tram, and made it to the ferry terminal with one minute to spare. They waited while we grabbed our tickets to Esztergom (about AU$10). It was definitely the slow boat to Esztergom, but a really nice, laid back local trip up The Danube. It was a comfy ride on a old government barge, with all the trappings.

– a bar, great food, fantastic views of all the sights of Budapest, followed by the beautiful scenery of the river. With the hydrofoils whizzing by, the trip took five and a half hours, and it was a really nice way to while away the hours, sitting out on the deck in the weak autumn sunshine. It was cold at first, but by 1000 became warm enough to take the cardi off. Amazing, all those hours in the sun and no sunburn! Not like the Australian sun.
It was a lovely scene; a young canoodling couple, a young group of two couples and their kids, grandparents with grandchildren, a big range all chatting with each other at the little white wrought iron tables, and having a Sunday family visit to the Danube Bend region. Very few got on or off at the whistle stops.

Approaching Visegrad

Visegrad castle and fort

Fort and wall, port side

Island in the Danube

A couple of viewers

Approaching Estergom Basilica
Esztergom is unbelievably pretty, compared to Budapest. I think I liked it even more than Sopron.

There is a feeling of care and pride here. We have bought our bathers because we know there are thermal baths. We pay to go in, get changed, and then realize that the internal baths are in the process of filling. We try the outside pool. It is certainly not the advertised 26 degrees. It’s not too bad. We last about ten minutes, then sneak into the sauna (which we hadn’t paid for) to warm up for a couple of minutes.

A pillar of society

Esztergom is dominated by a huge Basilica, built on the site of an earlier something by an Archbishop in the 19th century. These archbishops had amazing building skills!!

Its dome is seventy two metres high. It is a huge, fat building. I reckon the archbishop had huge thighs!

It has, behind the altar, the largest canvas in the world (left).

The river here has a bridge over to Slovakia. It was bombed out in the second world war, but wasn’t rebuilt until after the Russians left. Now the need for that level of control had gone, the bridge was rebuilt and finally opened only in 2001.
We could have walked across the pedestrian path to the side, or driven over if we had a vehicle! The other side doesn’t look from the distance as if it’s been cleaned up as much yet.

We walked around beautiful pastel painted baroque buildings, cute cobblestone streets, the colours of Autumn changing, and the atmosphere of a weekend holiday town.
We found lunch in a restaurant, wandered across the square and out of town to the railway station, returning to Budapest by train, because it was quicker than returning by ferry. The train returned via a different route through the hills. The one and a half hour trip stopped at all the towns and villages, giving us a good look from the train. Tickets cost 900 fl (about AU$6.00). A lot of people in the countryside are doing just what a lot of us do in the countryside, growing fruit and veg down long thin backyards, which back onto the railway line. Some also have lots of grape vines. I wonder why???
Instead of cooking, we bought a take away vegetarian pizza. It was unbelievably bad. No tomato or tomato paste, and not even paradiscum (paprika). The cheese tasted like soap. I added chutney.
We’re packed and ready to get the train to Becs/Wien tomorrow, but suddenly feel a little sad about leaving Hungary already. There’s still so much to see here. I think it’s likely we’ll come back again. We need an earlyish night tonight, and are still doing mental battle with the TV noise through the wall, so here’s hoping they turn the bloody thing off tonight. A while later, Bruce finally bashes the wall with the side of his fist, and silence descends.