A number of companies offer cruises on the River Danube in Budapest, but “Legenda”:http://legenda.hu/en centrally moored at dock 7, was my chosen option and I sailed on the Duna Bella at 6.30pm which in May, is the last day-time cruise.
Judging by the number of people waiting to get on when we docked at 7.45pm, most people wanted to see Budapest by night, as there were only eight passengers on our boat. The headset was easy to operate and provided a commentary in 30+ languages.
Instead of constantly saying ‘on your left or right’, the clear commentary explained a male voice would refer to sights on the left hand Buda side of the river and a female one, the Pest side.
The fare of 3,900 Hungarian Forint (HUF) (£9.50) included a glass of champagne, wine or a soft drink. Whether it was because it wasn’t busy, or the waitress felt sorry for me as I was on my own and surrounded by seven noisy Italians, but I was offered, and gratefully accepted, a second glass of fizz.
Heading south, we went as far as Liberty Bridge with the Art-nouveau Hotel Gellert and hill of the same name in Buda and on the opposite Pest side, the new cultural centre, shaped like a whale and strangely named Central European Time.
Apparently all the bridges were destroyed in World War II along with many of the hotels along the bank. Prince Charles would detest the replacement concrete modern monstrosities of the Marriott and Intercontinental.
Going under the city’s first bridge (Chain Bridge) we heard how it was designed by an English engineer and constructed by a Scottish one in 1839.
Heading north, Buda Castle stood impressively on the left and the beautiful, iconic Parliament building on the right. The latter employed 1,000 workers every day for 17 years and has 700 rooms and 20km of stairs.
We then reached Margaret Island, connected to the mainland by the Margaret and Arpad bridges. The island has shady walkways and flowery gardens and lots of people were using the 2.5km jogging trail running around the island. On cruises earlier in the day, you can get off and spend time on the island either walking or swimming in the pool where the Hungarian Olympians train.
A little further on, at Shipyard Island, we turned and headed back. This was a lovely way to spend an hour or so, but next time, I’d be very tempted by a dinner cruise.