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May 7, 2022
Budapest, Hungary: A Smooth Transition from Ship to Shore

Gail surveys an entire aisle of paprika at the local grocery store

Our travel plans called for us to spend an extra week in Budapest after our river cruise ended. We were apprehensive about losing the terrific travel support and infrastructure provided by Viking. We needn’t have worried.

Many guests add an optional pre-cruise or post-cruise extension, but we had never done so before. We are happy to report that it is fantastic. Budapest is one of several cities where Viking has “local hosts.” These are trained travel guides who help folks (like us) make a smooth transition from ship to shore (or vice-versa).

In Budapest, Viking has about 30 local hosts. Our host, Peter, met us aboard ship as we disembarked. He made sure our luggage was transferred to our waiting taxi, which drove us to our hotel. Once there, Peter led us on an orientation tour of the area, explaining where to change money, where to buy groceries, and how to purchase transportation tickets. He left us with a map of local restaurant recommendations and a list of recommended excursions.

Budapest has an ingenious conveyor belt system for transferring luggage from the cruise ship dock up to the street

Peter, our local Viking host, takes us to a local coffee shop

We left the Viking Vili on the Pest side of the Danube; we are now staying at the Hilton on the Buda side. Hilton Hotels was the first Western company that ever had a presence in Hungary, thanks to the marriage between Conrad Hilton and Zsa Zsa Gabor. We are literally right next door to Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion.

There is a fascinating story behind the Castle Hill Hilton. When they broke ground to build the hotel in 1976, they came upon the abandoned ruins of a 13th-century Dominican Monastery. The ruins have been preserved, and the hotel is literally built around the skeleton of the old monastery.

Our hotel is next door to Matthias Church

On the other side are the ruins of a Dominican Monastery

In an obscure lower level of the hotel, you can still see the ruins of the monastery

The hotel is literally built on the skeleton of the old structure

Even better: because we are staying for six nights, the Hilton decided to upgrade us to a river-view room. When we first entered our room, we were stunned by a jaw-dropping panoramic view of the Parliament Building across the Danube.

The lobby of the Hilton has a Viking desk that is manned all day, every day, in case we need help with anything at all. We are looking forward to an exciting week in beautiful Budapest.

The view from our hotel room

Our room also has something Gail hasn’t seen in weeks: a bathtub

There is a Viking service desk in the lobby that provides help all day, every day

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