Arriving in Visegrád after three days in Budapest, where there are people everywhere, sirens blaring, and traffic roaring at all hours of the day and night, is like feeling a nice breeze on a hot summer's day. Or tasting a mouthful of strawberries and cream after a heavy dinner of sausages. Or coasting down the ramp into Spittelau station after biking up from the canal.
You get the idea.
It was with some trepidation on my part that we arrived in Visegrád, because I'd hardly been able to find any information online about it, and for all I knew, I could be dragging my poor Parental Units to some sort of rural hole with nowhere to eat, nothing to see, and miles to walk before we found our hotel. The train from Budapest drops you off in Nagymaros, which is across the river from Visegrád. A short ferry ride is therefore required to reach the town. This was quite exciting, as we Bishops are partial to ferries.
We didn't have miles to walk before we found our hotel, as it turned out. It was perhaps a couple hundred meters. And by the time we had reached our hotel, dropped off our bags, opened the balcony door and stepped out to breath the fresh air and admire the brilliant autumn colours, we had already decided that Visegrád was a success.
The castle was closed for unknown reasons, which was unfortunate, though as Mom said, it was less unfortunate than it would have been had we walked up the hill instead of taking a cab. We were still able to admire the view and play with the torture equipment outside the castle walls.
We walked back down to the town via the forest path and unanimously declared it one of our favourite parts of the trip. The sun was shining and she who has not seen autumn in five years couldn't get enough of the colours. Mom was hopping with excitement because she'd found silver dollars growing wild, and Dad was pleased because Mom asked him to take pictures of them.
Partway down the hill is a little church built into the rock. Behind the church is a little clearing with a large cross. The trail leading down from the cross to Visegrád is bordered with engraved stone markers showing the stations of the cross. We weren't sure, but Mom thought that perhaps people come up on Easter Sunday and have a service in the clearing.
We were greeted at the bottom of the hill by a beautiful white Puss. She came running up the steps to meet us, saying, "People! Oh, I love people! Hello, people!" She's a community cat, I think, because we saw her a little while later outside a cafe in town, keeping the patrons company and eating from a small bowl of food that someone had put out for her.
We had to head back to Vienna the next day so that those of us who had an evening German class could attend. Visegrád was shrouded in fog when we left, but sadly, it wasn't wasn't dense enough to stop the ferry from going. Mom expressed some disappointment that we were not going to be stranded. I could have gone for that too, and I think Dad would have appreciated another early-morning opportunity to catch Dracula passing through.
The end of our trip meant the end of the Units' visit in Europe. When we meet again, it will be time for shortbread and snowshoes and Christmas carols!