When I travel I do a lot of research. Did I say "a lot"? I may have exaggerated, actually, I research and plan obsessively before a trip. I usually go on the web to whatever forum has threads related to the trip I'm taking. In the case of this cruise, I spent quite a bit of time on the River Cruise Boards of Cruise Critic. I ask questions...I ask a LOT of questions. Did I say a lot? I meant I ask questions obsessively!
One of the things I like to learn about is logistics; how to get from here to there, where to stay, what's the procedure for this or that. When I get a sense for the logistics, then I don't have to spend vacation and touring time on them, I can move through the "business of travel" (how to get to the hotel, changing money, where to buy tickets for the metro etc) and enjoy the fun of travel (sitting in a cafe with a glass of wine, biking through the streets, touring a museum) So my sources on Cruise Critic all assured me I could easily walk from the Marriott in Budapest to the dock where the AMAPrima usually docks. I took them at the their word, but apparently I didn't ask quite ENOUGH questions.
We could see the AMAPrima from our room, it wasn't more than 1/2 mile away. Sure we had 4 bags, but they all rolled and we can manage them easily, and frankly, if we did a little work getting them there; we could use it after all the rich food we'd been enjoying in Budapest!
So we rolled out of the Marirott with high hopes and our sights set on arriving at the river ship with little trouble, I'd done the research, I'd asked the questions, maybe I was even a little obsessive...I was confident!
Maybe we were a bit over confident, we started out on a big wide perfectly paved boulevard sidewalk, but to make it to the ship we had to cross 4 lanes of highway and tram tracks. No problem really, traffic control was good in Budapest, with pedestrian walks and lights. We found a pedestrian light and crossed over to the river. There was a sidewalk there, maybe not as wide and spacious as the boulevard sidewalk across the way, but certainly passable and we continued along past several small day cruisers.
Then something happened...to channel Shel Silverstein- "Where the Sidewalk Ends". We were faced with a chasm; a few granite cobble blocks barely wider than the lane marking stripes in the road, with traffic whizzing by just inches away with the merest of guard rails on one side and a set of steep stone stairs leading to the Danube river some 20 feet below on the other side. Imagine a tightrope walk, now imagine it with 4 roller bags, one of which contains all of Jeffs camera gear (and I'll remind you, dear reader, so you also feel the peril, that without this gear, there will be no pictures! Or maybe that's what you have been rooting for all along! )
We came to a dead stop "Where the Sidewalk Ends" to assess our options.
1- go back a 1/4 mile, and try to find a way on the surface streets and hope for another crossing closer to the ships dock (ding, ding ding! This was the correct answer!)
2- carefully shuttle the weighty and unstable rolling bags across the perilous tightrope of cobble stones, taking care not to let go or trip, lest both we and the bags end up in the Danube below. The only way to do this practically is to take one at a time until all four are at the other side where the side walk begins again. (This was the WRONG choice and of course the one we chose!)
Having committed to the perilous journey on uneven cobbles mere inches from either certain death by vehicular homicide or drowning, Jeff starts across with the largest and most unstable bag, (figuring heck, if it's not going to work we may as well figure it out early in the process) Amazingly, he makes it across successfully leaving the bag alone on the other side (this is a travel no no, and we worried for a moment that someone might steal it, but it was abundantly clear that absolutely no one else was foolish enough to take this route on foot, even without 4 roller bags!)
So Jeff returns, carefully picking his way back for another bag. His real worry is sitting in his carryon bag- thousands of dollars worth of camera gear that is not terribly compatible with even a slight mist, much less getting completely submerged in a foreign river and floating out to the Black Sea. (we are pretty sure this was not what AMA had in mind when they advertised the "Black Sea Voyage"!) By this time, I want to speed up the process and had decide that I could manage both carry roll aboard bags if I take one in each hand and walk across the cobble path to the other side (really, won't I just be BETTER balanced with 2 ?)
Jeff of course is panicked, imagining me and the camera gear tumbling into the Danube (the camera gear is his biggest worry, of course; I can swim). So I start out with his camera bag in my Danube side hand and my carry on bag in the whizzing-truck-street side hand. Jeff's panic escalates, so to reassure him I do a tricky mid transverse "switch" of the bags, balancing over the Danube (thank God for yoga, this works!!) and he seems calmer with the camera gear on the street side, where it's only at risk to be smashed to bits by a passing bus.
Luckily, we did make it all the way across with all four bags, none of them made an "unscheduled water landing" and we found the wider side walk, and of course the much easier crossing just a few feet from the dock, where we should have gone in the first place! So if you are going on this journey and want to try walking, the advice is correct, it can be done...just don't follow us!
We have a family travel motto, that's "it's not an adventure until peril is involved". So it's officially an adventure now!