Sunday May 23, 2010

We sailed this morning (under warm clear skies at last!) into Budapest, the famous capital of Hungary – and what a sight-for-sore-eyes it was! The elegant Chain Bridge, the glorious Parliament buildings, 500-year-old Matthias Church, St Stephen’s Basilica, the distinctive Fisherman’s Bastion, the marvellous Elegant Palace: they were all there, on grand display. And we couldn’t wait to get ashore and explore these twin cities, Buda and Pest, spread over both banks of the Danube.

Then, come the afternoon, while some of our group stayed in town, the rest of us drove out through lush green countryside to Castle Gödöllö (“Ger-der-ler”) and an unforgettable performance of Hungarian horsemanship at a Csarda (horsefarm).

The crew of the Amadeus Elegant served up a Hungarian feast for dinner tonight (goulash anyone?) – followed by one final highlight: an illuminated evening cruise along Budapest’s stunning waterfront. 

It’s midnight now, and, like the rest of our group, we Cooneys have just finished packing. You see, our Midlife Madness cruise is pretty much over. And tomorrow, after breakfast, we’ll be disembarking, disbanding and heading off in different directions:

  • 15 of our Kiwi group will transfer to Budapest airport for their outbound flight – via Frankfurt and Singapore to (eventually) Auckland
  • a handful of others are extending their holiday, taking some extra time in Eastern Europe
  • the rest (nearly 30 in total) are coming with us to the Oberammergau Passion Play, in Bavaria, Southern Germany.


It’s been a BLAST … this combination of luxury-on-the-river and discovery-on-shore! For the moment, most of us are castled-out, cathedralled-to-bits, and well-and-truly over medieval towns. But we’ve seen so much, done so much, learned so much, gained so much and laughed so much that we don’t know where to put it all!

We’ve had a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience – and we’ve got memories and photos to prove it!

PEOPLE NEWS: Two final nominations squeaked in before closing …

* Noel won the ‘I left my heart in the Blue Danube’ Award after receiving a passionate, public, full-frontal kiss during dinner last night from a handsome Viennese lady on board. (Noel’s still pink with excitement …)

* And Geraldine won the ‘I left my photo in the Blue Danube’ Award for buying a lovely pic of herself from the quick-fire photo-booth set up on the dock, and then promptly dropping her purchase into the current where, by now, it’ll be halfway to the Black Sea.

TOMORROW: The Oberammergau Gang will travel by coach back into Austria (Linz) en route to Salzburg and Bavaria. And, as soon as we can put fingers to keyboard and go online, this remarkable travel diary will continue! It ain’t over yet … 

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If following this travel diary has whet YOUR appetite and got you thinking, “Hey, I’D like to go on one of these Mad Midlife adventures!” … click on the TOURS list/logos on the right of this page, and read all about our upcoming schemes and dreams. Or go to our website: www.johncooney.co.nz. Or phone our travel colleague and booking agent, Roger Glynan (Lion World Travel) – tollfree 0800 277 477.


P.P.S. If you want to leave a message for someone in the Oberammergau Gang, just click on ‘COMMENTS’ (or ‘NO COMMENTS’) beside the title for the day’s blog, and type away! Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief. And if you want a better look at our map and photos, just click on them and they’ll enlarge –  magic!