November 24th 2017

«Back

Journey images

Click to view larger image Click to view larger image Click to view larger image Click to view larger image Click to view larger image Click to view larger image Click to view larger image
New Year’s Eve on the Danube New Year’s Eve on the Danube New Year’s Eve on the Danube New Year’s Eve on the Danube New Year’s Eve on the Danube New Year’s Eve on the Danube New Year’s Eve on the Danube

 

Continent: Europe. Country: Austria. City: Vienna.

New Year’s Eve on the Danube

By Christine Ball

New Year on the Danube is a very cold affair, wrap up warm and the amazing sights turn it into something magical.

As part of a 6 night river cruise on the Amadeus Brilliant the day started with cruising between Vienna and Budapest, our destination. Waking while it was still dark the river was smooth as glass with only the bow wave to disturb it. After another really cold night there is ice flow in the shallower parts of the river and a light mist hangs in the air above the water with the skeleton trees in the background creating a very eerie but beautiful scene. A beautiful sunrise of yellows and purples followed to start this day to remember.

On reaching Budapest late morning, the mist had cleared and the sun was shining to show Budapest at its best, sailing under numerous bridges and past all the grand buildings on our way to our mooring place under the Liberty Bridge (originally called the Franz Josef bridge and the second oldest bridge in Budapest) on the Pest side of the river.

After our four course lunch on the Amadeus Brilliant it was time to transfer to the coach for a City Tour of Budapest.

Budapest has a population of nearly 2 million over 200 square miles and one of the largest cities in Central Europe. Buda is the more expensive and desirable side on the west of the river with Pest the commercial side on the East. Our City Tour took us down the Andrassy Avenue (the Hungarian Champs Elysee) a very long and wide boulevard finally arriving at Heroes’ Square (the Millennial Monument), where the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the iconic statues of the Seven Chieftains of Magyars and other important national leaders can be seen. Within a short distance of Heroes’ Square many of Budapest’s ‘must see’ landmarks can be visited:

·         Museum of Fine Arts

Situated on the left hand side of the Heroes Square and faces the Palace of Art. The museum holds over 100,000 pieces of fine art but unfortunately closed in February this year for renovation, it is not expected to open again until March 2018.

·         City Park (Varoliget Park)

Is an unexpected green space in the centre of Budapest and is at the top end of Heroes Square. From the Square (in winter) you can see the famous Budapest Outdoor Ice Rink which in the summer months is a boating lake.

·         Thermal baths

Also within City Park, this is Europe’s largest Spa baths where the water is naturally 73 degrees at its coolest, from over 100 thermal springs.

·         Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden

Again this is part of City Park and is the oldest Zoo in Hungary and one of the oldest in the World, it looks after over 1000 species and if you are lucky as you drive past you just may catch a glimpse of one of the animals.

·         Vajdahunyad Castle

We are still within City Park and this castle is better known as Draculas Castle, when seen from the outside it doesn’t disappoint. 

Travelling away from the City Park area of Budapest, we headed back down towards the Danube, other places of interest lined out route:

·         St Stephens Basilica (largest catholic church)

·         Budapest Opera House

·         Franz Liszt Museum

·         West Square (previously Carl Marx Square)

A trip to Budapest is not complete without a visit to Parliament Square, one of the most iconic buildings of Budapest. See a picture of the Danube in Budapest and there the majestic Hungarian Parliament building will stand proud.

If you did not want to see Budapest on a tour other ways of getting around are via the Trolley buses (all numbers start at 70 as Stalin was 70 when they came into service) with 4 underground/subway lines.

Returning back to the river to cross to the Buda side of the Danube don’t miss the iron shoes monument on the Danube quayside (‘Shoes on the Danube Bank' is a remembrance to the people shot into the Danube during the time of the Arrow Cross terror). Sixty pairs of shoes are made out of iron and are attached to the stone embankment, so can easily be missed.

On visiting the Buda side of Budapest, a stop in Buda’s Castle District and a visit to the renovated Matthias Church (the Church of our Lady), where the internal walls are covered in elaborate gilt work which has an exotic and mystical feel that is very different to any other church I have seen and stunning to see.

The best views of Budapest and the 7 bridges that cross the Danube can be viewed from Fishermen’s Bastion (Halaszbastya) just a few steps away from Matthias Church.

Finally returning to the warmth of the Amadeus Brilliant, it was time to get ready for the New Year celebrations. After a pre-dinner cocktail in the Panorama Bar our 6 course gala dinner awaited us. 

Our evening entertainment started with a local folk group providing us with traditional songs, dancing and music.

At 23:30 the most spectacular part of the day began, the Amadeus Brilliant pulled away from her mooring and started off on her night time cruise back up the Danube. Time to don winter coats and make our way up to the sun deck (the sun deck term used loosely here). Budapest put on a stunning display, every bridge and main building were lit up, people lined the river banks and bridges. We sailed under 3 bridges back up to Parliament Square where were halted to welcome in the New Year. With our own firework display from the back of the Brilliant, accompanied with a glass of bubbly and the beautifully lit Parliament Building in front of us we welcomed in the New Year of 2015. There is no big firework here but from the river you can see all the individual displays going off around Budapest. The night time sail last @1.5 hours and fireworks could be seen continually for the whole of the sail back to our mooring place. Then it was time to get warm and continue the party to music and dancing, and if still hungry a Midnight Buffet.

New Year’s Day dawned with free time until lunch, with a chance to see the Vienna New Year’s Day concert on the television (where we had visited just a couple of days before).

Before starting our return trip back up the Danube and back to Passau, our Sail-a-way party consisted of Gluwein and German folk music up on the Sun Deck, before our last look at the amazing sights of Budapest as we sailed past. What an unforgettable way to bring in the New Year, a memory to be treasured forever.

Keywords: Amadeus Brilliant, Vienna, Budapest,