March 23, 2019
Pest – It was about 4pm when our ship, the Crystal Mahler, approached Budapest from the west. Amazed at the view approaching the cities with the impressive buildings, and the bridges was literally breathtaking and had goose bumps.
We hopped off the ship and headed into Pest, the modern section of the Buda-Pest region approaching St. Stephens church. The gorgeous cathedral with its fresco ceilings and glass dome were amazing. You could almost hear the aww from the visitors as we all stood there quietly in awe, due to the silence rule in the church. Upon leaving the cathedral, the sun was setting and the views were almost as beautiful from outside the cathedral with the colors glistening off the building and the square as what we saw within the cathedral.
After leaving St. Stephens we headed up the infamous Andrassy Avenue (Champs Elysee of Pest) towards Heroes Square and to visit the Schzeny Baths. We found a small cafe off Andrassy avenue and stopped for some dinner, Pesti Diszano Biestro for some Hungarian Ghoulash and Palinko. We enjoyed the home cooked meal, from the sidewalk tables who offered blankets to keep us warm on the cool evening and became fans of the Palinko. Similar to schnapps, the main type and most popular is apricot, but like vodka, many flavors can be found depending on your preference.
Let’s just say that we were not a fan of the baths. I understand that they date back thousands of years to Roman occupation in Buda-Pest, and are heated by thermal springs, but I would equivalent it to a public pool that has not been maintained or cleaned for many years. We walked the property in our bathing suits tried a few of the various pools, steam rooms and sauna’s but decided that despite the hefty entrance cost, we would move on to enjoy the local sites.
Grabbed a cab which was very easy to find, despite being so far from the central area and headed into the Jewish Ghetto, home of the infamous Ruin bars. Ruin bars are abandoned buildings in the area that have been converted into night clubs. Each room has a different theme and offers different types of music bands or DJ’s and a very eclectic decor to match the colorful crowd of people of all ages. Szimpla Kert is the most popular Ruin bar in Pest and did not disappoint. It was the perfect experience for our evening of our overnight visit in Budapest.
Exhausted from our travels and from the days activities, we headed back to the ship for some socialization with fellow passengers and a night cap. The friendly Romanian bartenders onboard crafted a drink for a fellow passenger of Connoisseur French Cognac w/ St. Germaine Elderflower liquor. It was quite tasty and earned itself the name the “Sheri Ravel” after the passenger onboard who they created it for.