We added the 2 night Pre-Cruise Extension in Budapest – we will do that on any cruise from now on if we are flying to the departure port. We had flight delays (one was 11 hours) that caused us to miss the flight to Budapest. With the extra time we were not stressed about it and still had 2 nights to rest and enjoy Budapest before boarding the ship. The Hilton Budapest is a gorgeous hotel in a perfect location – the Castle Hill historic area where the premier sites are located just steps away – literally! The view from our room was of Matthias Church – a stunning gothic church. Fishermans’ Bastion was around the corner. We felt safe and were able to walk around the entire Castle Hill easily – shops, restaurants, quaint sights – it was amazing!! Uniworld host, Romulus Varga, was there the entire day and even guided us on the tour of Budapest and the gorgeous Opera House (not to be missed!) and the huge indoor market (be sure to buy some paprika and some lovely lace and embroidery work there). Romulus booked a private tour for us after the optional afternoon tour was cancelled because not enough guested signed up. We had wonderful guides, Dr. Tovispalaki Ferenc (Frank) and Geszvein Nori. We went to the Szentendre Artists Village with Skanzen Outdoor Museum – well worth it – even in the oppressive heat; also went to Caprice Jewelry Center – not so worth it; a typical “cruise shopping stop”. There was beautiful jewelry at very reasonable prices – diamonds and opals were the specialty, so if you are into that sort of souvenir, definitely go there!
Don’t hail a cab off the street in Budapest – have the ship contact a taxi for you – you will get a reputable one.