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Adventures With Robin

Your Go-To Travel Source

Welcome! This space serves as a platform for travel agent Robin Norell to share her trips, experiences and expertise with you. Exceeding your customer service expectations is Robin’s primary goal. Having worked for Disney for 2.5 years, she knows how to make your vacation magic. 

Robin has visited 25 countries (Caribbean, Europe, Asia) and 31 states, and has been on 26 river and ocean cruises (so far), visited Disney World, Disneyland and Disneyland Paris multiple times, and she is happy to share her travel experiences and knowledge with you to make your vacation the best it can be.

Robin has been awarded the distinguished certifications of CLIA’s (Cruise Lines International Association) ACC (Accredited Cruise Counselor) Certification, as well as earning her CTA (Certified Travel Associate) certification, has completed the College of Disney Knowledge, and continues to learn more about the travel industry every day.

Excelling in administration and customer service, she takes care of all the details, leaving you free to relax and enjoy!

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April 5. Budapest

Updated: Apr 10

Friday April 5

Budapest


Included morning tour: Breathtaking Budapest (3 hours) or Hike to the Citadel in Budapest with your Adventure Host (1.5 hours).


Optional afternoon tour: Bites & Highlights of Budapest (3.5 hours) or Art & Architecture of Budapest (3 hours)


The ship stayed moored in the same place overnight. After a very comfortable night of sleep (even though Amy stole one of my pillows – LOL!), we went downstairs to breakfast. It is served from 7am to 9am in the dining room. We arrived around 8:45am – we had decided not to do the group tour but to relax in the morning and just do the afternoon tour.


After breakfast, Amy went to the hot tub and then did her yoga workout. I stayed in the cabin and worked and wrote my journal. Just as I was thinking about taking my laptop up to the sky deck, I looked at the clock and it was almost noon. We had decided to eat at 12pm, so we would be ready for the 1pm tour departure.


At 1pm, we went to the lobby and grabbed our receiver devices. There had been a sign on the front desk saying that the ship would be repositioning between 12:20pm and 12:50pm. There were two other ships tied up to us, so we did indeed move away from the shore, and then resecured ourselves to one of the other ships. We had to wait until the ships were secure to disembark, and then had to wait for all the passengers who had been waiting to get back on the ship as they came onboard.


We walked through the Riviera ship and the Tauck ship (and yes, their lobbies looked just the same, and the same as the ones I had seen in Amsterdam), and then walked to a waiting bus. On the way, the guide pointed out some buildings – right near our hotel was a Market Hall, which I hadn’t known. Next time!


Facts:

- In World War 2, the crown was taken to Salzburg, and then to the US. In 1978, President Carter had it returned to Hungary.

- There has always been competition between Budapest and Vienna for the most beautiful buildings.

- Budapest is the home of the 2nd largest synagogue in the world. It was the largest from 1875-1884, but then they built the one in NYC and that took the title.

- 25% of population in Budapest is Jewish, 5% of all residents in Hungary

- There are 40 letters in the Hungarian alphabet, and some of these are double consonants (like gy).

- Hungarians are most closely related (in blood and language) to the Finns, Estonians, and Laps, who all came from north Asia.

- Average salary is 950Euros per month, a 2-bedroom apartment cost about 650Euro per month.

- Schools are off for the summer from mid-June to early Sept. In other European countries they only have 6 weeks off.

- For a good job, students should know 2 or 3 languages.

- Paprika is the national herb, and there are over 40 varieties (including sweet, spicy, smoked, and many more).


We were driven to the Opera House – there are actually 2, and we went to the older one (built in the late 19th century). The newer one is bigger, but it is modern. There are theater buildings nearby – across the street in what is now the W hotel (opened one year ago), there was the home of the Hungarian Ballet.



When they were building the opera house, there was a requirement that the workers and materials must be from Hungary. But there were exceptions, including the marble, which is all from Italy.




Our guide took us into the Red parlor, which is part of the royal area. It leads to the royal box, which now is used by the president and prime minister and their guests. The wood is Noble Oak, imported from what is now Croatia. There is even a separate royal staircase, with a private entrance. There are 3 colors of marble in this area, and the 3 colors come from 3 different Italian cities. The mirror was made in Belgium.



How can you tell if marble is real? If you touch it and it stays cold, it’s real. Fake marble will turn warm.


There was a photo collage on the wall of the cast from the very first season at this opera house.


The parlor is being used as office is main director, and there is a door that leads to the directors box in the auditorium. On the way out, there is a “secret door” (cut out of a wall with wallpaper) and it is a bathroom.


This opera house went through a major modernization from 2017 to 2022. Screens were added on the back of the seats for subtitles (and in the boxes as well) – the subtitles are in Hungarian, English, and one other language, depending on the language of the opera. They also went from 1200 seats to 1000 seats, and added an area up at the top for standing room to hold 64 people (just $5 per person, seats in the first 8 rows are around $90 each). The biggest box is the Royal Box. The Director’s box is right next to the stage on the upper level. The vents under the seats were originally for heating and cooling, they are now used for acoustics.



The stage is 50 meters deep, and there are 200 members of the orchestra. The large Crystal chandelier in the auditorium was made in Mainz Germany. Originally it had over 500 gas lights, now there are 480 light bulbs. When it was built, it cost 3.5 million HF

(Hungarian Forint). At that time, a horse would cost 3hf, and an opera ticket 6hf.



She took us to the bar area, which was quite large. The “hall” behind the bar was the smoking area, it has since been completely renovated and cleaned. They had water problems a few years ago, so one of the paintings above was damaged by water. She also took us out onto the terrace, where more than 8500 gold leaves were used in the renovation.


We then went outside and took the underground to the City Park (Városliget), located behind Heroes’ Square. This is the third oldest Underground (subway) in the world – first was New York City, then London, then here. They literally took the road off, dug below and put the underground in, and then rebuilt the roads on top.



The first building we went to is the Szechenyi Baths – it is the largest in Europe, with 15 indoor baths and 3 large outdoor pools, saunas, steam rooms, and a rooftop spa greenhouse. It has the largest medicinal bath in Europe, and the water comes from two natural springs, one 74C (165F), the other 77C (170F).



There are 2000 baths throughout Hungary. Some date back to the Romans – some are in ruins, others preserved with their mosaic floors and they are museums. The Turks also built baths when they were here.


There is a castle in this park (the Vajdahunyad Castle), built in 1896 to celebrate the 100th anniversary, and it was built for the people. Originally, they used wood and paper, later they fortified it with bricks. It was built in 4 different architectural styles – Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque.


Around the castle is a moat or lake; in the summer, there is water in it and boats are available. In the winter, there is a large area that they turn into an ice-skating rink.


Right near the castle, there is a statue of something that looks like a person with a cloak over their head so you can’t see their face. It is to honor the anonymous person who wrote the first book about Hungary



The next building we went past is the House of Music – it was designed by a Japanese architect, and there are many “gold leaves” on the inside of the roof of the outer area, as well as some holes large enough for trees to grow through. This is just 3 years old.



We also went into the Visitor’s Center, where they have a model of this park now, and how they want it to look after some upcoming work.



There is a monument to honor those killed during the October 23, 1956, counter revolution – between 10/23/56 and 11/4/56, they think 100,000 people were killed.



We met up with our bus at a little after 4pm and rode back to the ship. Our ship sailed out of Budapest at 5:30pm, and we were invited to be on the Sky Deck – it was a wonderful view as we sailed out of Budapest, especially sailing past the Hungarian Parliament Building.



Port talk at 6:45pm, dinner at 7 with Carole and Karen, and then bed for me.



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Robin is an Independent Travel Planner who has been awarded CLIA's (Cruise Line Industry Association's) Accredited Cruise Counselor Certification and The Travel Institute's Certified Travel Associate designation. Her excellent service is yours at no cost - she's paid by the suppliers (hotel, cruise line, etc.), nor does she charge a fee for services. She may even save you money over booking it yourself, as she follows all the specials and will get you a better price after you book with her. When you are planning a family vacation or celebrating a special occasion through travel, you want the best experience possible, and Robin is ready to help you! She provides excellent customer service, and your happiness and satisfaction is her top priority. With the knowledge gained by her extensive travel experience (25 countries, 31 states, and 26 cruises so far) and customer service experience (2.5 years employed at Walt Disney World Resort), she's excited and ready to help you plan new adventures!

Location: Alexandria - VA
Email: Robin.Norell.Travel@gmail.com
Phone: (567) 307-3476
Toll-Free: (866) 779-4830

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