Saturday, October 11, 2014

Bathing in Budapest

Bath Complex (Thanks to Internet - not my photo)
They say that you cannot dig a hole in the ground in Budapest without hitting a natural steam vent. As a result one of the “Must See” attractions are the thermal baths. Anyone who knows me realizes that I do not swim, I go to the beach for the sunshine, and think large bodies of water are intended to hold up large boats. The public baths of Budapest was not initially on my personal “Must See” list, but since we had friends visiting and wanted them to get the real Budapest experience I relented and agreed to go to the baths.

Lots of People enjoying the Baths
Now Budapest had a wide variety of bath facilities all over the city, so some research was needed. For example, the nearest baths were right across the river from the apartment, but research discovered that these are “traditional” baths, meaning no clothes, and men only all week. Now our friends are good friends, but not “that good”, so we elected to search further afield. We finally decided to take the various guide book advice and go to the Szechenyi Thermal Bath and Swimming Pool.

Housed in an elegant looking 100 year old Neo-Baroque (Amazing how much you learn on a River Cruise . . ) building, it is actually the largest thermal spa in Europe. Fortunately it is right on one of Budapest’s excellent underground lines, and easy to get to. We had no problem finding it, and thanks to Rick Steves’ Guidebook on Budapest’s excellent hints on entering, exiting and finding your way around the huge complex we spent a completely relaxing afternoon.

Yup, me in the water . . .
Anyone for Chess
The complex has at least 12 pools with water at various temperatures and with different minerals. Some are just for fun, but some are supposed to aid various ailments, and in Budapest you can get your doctor to prescribe a visit to the baths at a discounted rate. The water in all the pools is hot, generally above 24°C, and some are as hot as 38°C. After a while here the cool pool at 24° is downright chilly! Probably the most popular pools are the outdoor ones, there are actually three, but one was under repair. There is one that is a regular swimming pool with lanes for actually swimming, but it was not busy; people do not come here to swim. The other main outdoor pool is just for relaxing and soaking. There were two corners where people spent the entire time sitting up to their chest in water playing chess. Most people just sat on the steps all the way around, or slowly walked around in the warm water. There is something about being in an outdoor pool in October sitting in 28°C water looking up at the clear blue sky of Budapest that can even convince me to get wet!

Needless to say we all went back to the apartment relaxed and mellow. Do you suppose Blue Cross covers this; I do have a bad back . . . . ?

1 comment:

  1. You do look very relaxed, you two! It looks like a wonderful way to slough off all those stresses!