Budapest, part one.

Budapest was the first stop on my recent European vacation. After sprinting through the Paris airport - with a 60 minute connection in which we switched two terminals via train, cleared passport check, and navigated another round of security - we arrived in Hungary. Our luggage did not. Since we knew ahead of time we'd have to sprint in Paris, we packed only purses with iPads and iPods and lip gloss. This did not bode well for what would become four full days without my luggage. You do the math. Then continue to do the laundry in our little cruise ship bathroom sink. Not cool. Enough said.

Dear Air France, Thanks a lot for the elveszett poggyasz.

Thankfully Viking River Cruises arranged our transfer from the airport to the ship, so we avoided this highly dangerous situation...


Lost luggage and L'Occitane lemon verbena shampoo scented underwear aside, we were greeted by posh accommodations. The Viking Longships were completed earlier in 2012, so we were sailing pretty in a brand new boat. seen sponsoring PBS Masterpiece Classic, if that gives you any indication as to the situation on board.

Our Viking Odin Longship sitting pretty under Budapest's Chain Bridge.

Internationally recognized as the cardinal rule for beating jetlag: If the locals are awake, so are you. I'm not able to sleep on airplanes, so rounding the corner into my twenty-eigth hour of no sleep meant rules be damned. After a 45 minute power nap, it was off to the Christmas Market with a handful of fellow Viking travelers. Tourists on the move.

Complimentary umbrellas = savvy marketing.

Similar to when I walked out of the metro and saw the Colosseum for the first time, fully realizing I was finally in Rome, this building will always be my first memory of Budapest. It lit up right outside our ship as I groggily sat up from my not-so-powerful jet lag nap. As I climbed the hill from the river to the city, it sank in, I had arrived.

I mean, seriously. Budapest is kind of ugly. #irony

This was my first European Christmas Market. What a charming memory to kick off the season. I was so swamped at work, preparing to be gone for over three weeks, that I hadn't really tuned in to the approaching holidays. This put me in the spirit instantly. It's like a summer arts festival in the states, and it's full of locals eating dinner and socializing over hot wine. I think I expected more artisan than arts and crafts, but to be fair there was a mix of both at this particular market. I was also excited to see how the markets changed in all the different regions, countries, and cities we visited (stay tuned, Blog Reader, stay tuned). 

Christmas Market in the town square.

I google translated this sign. It was oh so useful in telling me it means "Mikulas package"

Trendsters Unite! Mason jars have officially been declared a global movement.

Cute. Edible. And used as Christmas tree ornaments. 

Not cute. Not edible (para mi). Not used as Christmas tree ornaments. 

Local culinary fare.

Hot wine. Hot Hungarian man. Check. Check. 

Locals meeting friends for dinner. I appreciated how not-touristy this market felt. 

And you thought it was only the stuff of shabby chic pinterest weddings in the states. 

A tradition I came to love was the Christmas tree in every town square. Larger cities that have 
multiple town squares had a tree and a market in every neighborhood. I love that. 

By the time I walked back to the ship it was dark outside and the rain made everything impossibly romantic. The journey back looked a bit like this...

Metro, that I didn't need for my short distance, but that I found beautiful.

This couple, however, decided to take the metro. In heels and fur, no less. 

See? Romantic. I need more cobblestones in my life. 

I know, it's postcard perfect. This city is the first of many. Get used to it.

Another favorite memory was the moment we opened our curtains for the first time, gasped, and realized our floor to ceiling glass doors were framing the Chain Bridge. We'd only been in the lounge and not really explored our sense of space on the ship yet. It was decided: We slept with our curtains wide open all night long. Actually, we slept with our curtains open the entire trip. We didn't want to miss the random castles floating past in the night, the fires burning and lights flickering in little villages, the terrifying locks (wait for it). 

Yes, I'm laying on the bed with my feet sticking out the window into the icy night.

Next post coming soon: Hero's Square, and Fisherman's Bastion and Matthias Church on Castle Hill.

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Photo Series: Budapest