We started about 11:00 for Visegrad. Gabor was our tour guide and driver. We were traveling in the large grey van with seats for 9 people—three in the front, and then two rows of three behind. We just fit!
The trip was interesting. Gabor took us through Szentendre which is a lovely drive. Then we went on to Visegrad. After passing through the small town between the base of the hill and the Danube, we climbed the hill to the castle. The students were all very excited by the castle—and the souvenir shop before the entrance. We spent about 30 minutes there drinking coffee and looking around.
The castle itself is fascinating! Built in various stages between the 12th and 14th centuries, although now on the edge of Hungary, it served as the center of government. Bela, Charles Robert, Louis the Great, and Sigismond of Luxemburg and Matthais all had their courts at Visegrad. Now in ruins, it is still easy to grasp the magnificence and scale of what it must have been at its height.
The students all seemed to enjoy the castle immensely, but for different reasons. Some loved it because of the history. Several really enjoyed thinking what it must have been like to live in that time. Others were interested in the local geography—including the incredible view up and down the Danube. I enjoyed watching them and listening to their comments.
After leaving the castle, we went to a ride called “The Bob” probably after the bobsled. This link will take you to a YouTube video showing parts of the ride. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_-knYNGwSk It was really fun and all of us enjoyed riding it four times courtesy of Gabor! He also bought us hot chocolate after the ride. It was much welcome since we were all very cold!
After leaving Visegrad, we went on to Esztergom Basilica. This lovely cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary. The bishop still has considerable influence in some of the politics. The cathedral is beautiful and very large! It is the largest in Hungary and one of the largest in the world. The foundations for this building were laid in 1822 on the ruins of churches dating back to the origins of Hungary in 1000. The first Christian king of Hungary, Istvan I established Esztergom as the Archdiocese of all of Hungary at about that time.
When we left the cathedral, we crossed the Danube into Slovakia. After wandering around lost in Slovakia for a bit, we finally ended up nearly stuck in a field. It was quite an adventure. Once we extricated ourselves from the mud, Gabor decided to go all the way back to Esztergom and home from there. It was probably a good decision.
We arrive at his house where Eva, his wife had a lovely supper fixed for us! Soup, of course, two kinds of vegetable salad, mashed potatoes and baked chicken breast wrapped in bacon and stuffed with prunes. We were all stuffed by the time we left!