A chronicle of Alison and Ron's trip around the world in 2009-2010.

"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A day at the Szechneyi Thermal Bath

On a pleasant but very warm summer day we strolled down Andrassy Avenue, the grand boulevard of Budapest, taking in the neo-renaissance architecture of the city.

We headed towards the city park and came upon the impressive Hero’s Square. Quite literally we hadn't researched Budapest yet and when we just stumble upon a great monument, square, or building its like magic. Or the universe conspiring in wonderful ways.

Our final destination was located inside the park, Szechneyi Thermal Baths which are the largest medicinal baths in Europe. Entrance to the bath was about $15/each for the day and you even get a locker to hold your belongings if, that is, you can figure out the card they give you is meant to go in the locker door to release the key.

Stepping out into the pool area for the first time is just incredible, the nicest public pools I’ve ever seen, decorated lavishly in neo-Baroque style with white scupltures reflecting off the aqua pools below. The three pools outside ranged from cool to warm to hot. It was amazing to be inside a large pool that felt like a jacuzzi in the middle of a sunny day. Surprisingly it felt great. Now we are kicking ourselves for skipping out on Pamukkale Hot Springs in Turkey.

It was crowded but didn’t seem overwhelming. A lot of locals come to these baths, some regulars have come for years to play chess while lingering in the medicinal waters.

One of the pools had circles of jets spewing up from the floor monopolized by Hungarian grandmas in old fashioned bathing suits. I couldn’t figure out the fuss until I staked one out for myself and made a mad dash for it across the pool when it was free. And it was, how can I put this…aqua erotic. Go grandma!

A few hours later we discovered that the outside pools are only half the experience. Inside there are hot and cold plunges, whirlpools, steam rooms, and saunas.

I hate saunas. I try them every year or two, and like a dry martini I can never acquire the taste. If I liked to be hot and suffocating I would never have left Arizona. It’s a dry heat, they say, but that’s just a nice way of saying hella hot with the operative word on “hell”. Guess this is a good opportunity to give a big HI to all my pals in Dante’s Inferno sweating out another August!

Ron loved the saunas and especially liked going directly afterwards to the cold plunge, the 18 degrees celsius water jolting his system awake. Then to a 38 degree jacuzzi, I’m not sure if this would be a very therapetic order of events, but we had fun for hours running around like little kids.


Rocky August 17, 2009 at 6:40 PM  

Hello folks,
Did you notice the metal awning on the top of the building in the first picture?
If you were to view the building flying by in a plane, you would see the word terror.
That’s probably why you took the picture; it just took me awhile to spot it.
Enjoy the hot tubs.
Love Rocky and sue

suntea August 17, 2009 at 8:03 PM  

aqua erotic - so funny.

I never liked saunas either. I recently told a friend, who lives in Wisconsin, that I have the sauna experience a few months each year here in Phoenix. There is something great about the Sonoran summer experience - the dry warm air/moist warm body - a feeling of blending,evaporating with the sky. But not something I need to recreate during the rest of the year. Their popularity in Northern Europe makes much more sense.

Alison September 5, 2009 at 11:52 AM  

That's the House of Terror - we didn't go in but its a museum for memorabilia from the nazi and communist repression of the hungarian people. Not a very uplifting place.

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