Thank you so much James --feel free to post anything you wish.
You've told us to contact City Taxi for a ride to Le Meridien -- the hotel's website indicates that they are also accessible from the Red Metro Line, Keliti towards Deli, getting off at 3rd stop Deak Ferenc Ter. What do you think of metro vs cab? Is metro line easily accessible inside train station. And I'm thinking that this would be a good time to procure multi-day subway passes? We are on our own Fri night - Sunday early afternoon before boarding Viking ship. Then on our own again Monday afternoon -- so maybe a four day pass?
Meredien, great hotel! Yes the metro has a stop right out front of it. The last time I was in the Keleti metro station it was being fully renovated, so yes we did have to go outside but the new inside access is complete now. You want a Travel Card and they come in 24 hour and 72 hour versions. The first day I would just purchase a few individual tickets, then buy a 72hour card the next day. The directions you received are correct. Go down the stairs, purchase 4 tickets (two to use and two spares) and then look for the orange box to validate them and walk on in. https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/hungary/72-hr-budapest-card-vs-bkk-transportation-card
I don't know that we will ever get back to Budapest. Would you suggest staying in Budapest, or is a Saturday trip to Szentendre something we should do? We want to make sure we've hit the highlights of Budapest before venturing too far afield, but at the same time don't want to duplicate the Viking overview tour too much.
If you enjoy Budapest you will wish you had more time. If you are one of those rare ducks that doesn’t then there is no advance planning involved in visiting Szentendre. Just get up in the morning and do it. The hotel front desk can tell you exactly where to go and how to do it. https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/hungary/szentendre-and-open-air-museum
Saturday, Oct 4th is Yom Kippur so presumably the Jewish area is pretty much closed down that day -- Viking offers a 44 euro per person (which seems excessive to me) "Jewish Tour", but we might do that on our own Monday afternoon.
The Jewish Quarter will be pretty much closed mainly because it is Saturday. Sunday and Monday are good days to visit. http://www.greatsynagogue.hu/jewishquartertours.html Friday night is the Klezmer Band and Dinner at Spinoza’s if you are interested: http://www.spinozacafe.hu/
At your suggestion we've bought Opera tickets for Saturday night. And I've made reservations at Callas for afterwards (for 9:30 -- at that time I suppose they will recognize it as a post-opera meal if we don't show up until later if show runs long?) -- I hope they won't be irritated if we have drinks and dessert since we generally have dinner much earlier and may have already had a main meal!
Or when I make reservations I just say “after the opera”. If the weather is good sit outside on Andrassy and watch the world go by with your deserts and drinks. No, they won’t mind what you order.
Which museum would you recommend the most? My husband and I both enjoy museums, but the problem is he is a "memorizer" and can spend his entire time in one area on one floor, whereas I am a "grazer" -- I want to hit the highlights and make sure there is time for the museum store at the end. I can only hope that because Hungarian is "so foreign" that he will not try to decipher plaques on displays -- the man doesn't speak a word of French yet spent his entire time in the Louvre trying to make sense of every description card!
House of Terror. Excuse the name, it is really well done and gives you a lot of insight into Hungary and the region as a whole. http://www.terrorhaza.hu/
Can I post this?