The day began slowly and in honor of the Saint we slept in. Breakfast was at 10:30, although the adults were ready by 9. We had bacon and eggs and French toast on the terrace of the Chagall, right around the corner from our hotel.
We passed St. Stephen's Basilica where they were preparing for a massive open air mass at 5pm. As we stood in the midst of a sea of white chairs, the bells of noon began to toll. We don't have bells like these at home, and Peter especially reveled in the sound.
was happy to pose next to such a great musical hero.
We crossed the Chain Bridge with thousands of others. The day was clear and bright, though it was hot in the sun.
Finally we came upon an open area with four long lines into a building and two exit lines. The people coming out were carrying slices of cake. Our quest was over. Several of us stood in line while others went to find a shady spot. The line moved rapidly, and before we knew it we were standing in front of a table choosing nine slices. The cake was creamy and delicious. The fillings were red, white and green in honor of the flag. It was perfect.
Our next goal was to climb the hill to the castle and the Fisherman's Bastion which overlooks the Danube. We were split as to whether to ride the cog rail or to walk up the hill behind the castle. The riders insisted. The climbers relented, and we arrived at the top of the hill in a few minutes.
When we arrived a parade was forming.
After a priestly blessing, a portly baker moved to the front and holding a huge knife, sliced and distributed the various loaves.
Peter and I split from the group to have some of the wonderfully tart local lemonade. Fr Tim and Zoltan took the others into a craft fair in the castle, where the kids had a chance to buy gifts and souvenirs.
Because mass was in progress in front of the Basilica, we took a detour and ended up at our hotel for some packing time. We made reservations for 7 at the restaurant where we had eaten breakfast, and Zoltan and Andrea joined us at the table. After we had ordered, Fr. Tim led a discussion in which he kids shared their perspectives on the trip, and explained what we had done to Zoltan and Andrea. In exchange Zoltan and Andrea recounted their memories of the Revolution of 1989 when they were students, participating in street marches.
Everyone who was returning to the US declined our invitation to the fireworks on the Chain Bridge. Since the airport shuttle was picking them up at 3:45, they opted for an early bedtime. Peter and I followed Zoltan ad Andrea who recommended a spot north of the bridge, near the Parliament building.
The display was fabulous. We had seen them setting charges on the bridge earlier, and we now saw the result.
We walked home past a statue of Ronald Regan near the Parliament.
I made sure everyone was up by 3:15, and touched each passport as they left the hotel. There were hugs all around as they entered the airport shuttle van. Right now they are flying over the Atlantic. Peter and I are on a train between Bratislava and Prague. Our journey continues for another week.