My number 1 goal in Budapest was to make sure we had a chance to go to the famous Budapest Thermal Baths.
According to Wikipedia, the baths were constructed during the Turkish period (1541-1686) and served both bathing and medicinal purposes. Today, the baths are still used for those purposes, but some (such as the Szechenyi Baths, where we went) are geared towards tourists, as they do not have seperate male and female days, and everyone is wearing something to cover the family jewels. The complex has 15 (or more, not sure) thermal baths with water that offers sulphate, calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate. The baths are supposed to help with joint flexibility and inflammation, orthopaedic treatment and other things (such as a place to see other men sporting banana hammocks?). There were saunas (that were 80* C!!! I nearly died it was SO HOT. I could barely handle the 40-50* sauna so the 80* one was horrible. They also offer massages and other spa treatments. We researched a bunch of the different baths and ultimately chose the Szenchenyi baths because they are the most popular among tourists.
It wasn´t only tourists though. There were a good number of locals there, getting in their dosage of minerals while hanging out, playing chess in the water, sitting in the saunas (and not dying, I don´t know how), and taking in the “views”.
And take some touristy photos
We opted for a “locker-only” ticket, which means they provide a locker to store your things. They also have a “cabin” ticket, which means you can have a cabin to change into your banana hammock. But, we were still provided cabins to change… So I´m not exactly sure what the difference is…
We changed, and then walked into the “pool area”. I want you to take a moment- close your eyes- (well don´t really close your eyes because you need to read this) and IMAGINE: hundreds of people, both groups of tourists and local Hungarians, in their bathing suits, some fat, some not….also sitting in these smalls (hot, unchlorinated) pools, and the water is the color of dirty dish water and urine. Mmmmmmmmm. What a sight We still got in all of the pools, but I am fairly certain that we were bathing is stewing urine. It´s sterile, right? RIGHT.
We spent a bit of time in each pool, relaxed, ate a sandwich, tortured ourselves in the saunas, and then left when we felt like we had had enough.
Would I say I LOVED the Thermal pools? No. Would I recommend that you go if you ever find yourself in Budapest? ABSOLUTELY. It´s something you have to experience, and maybe less crowded, I would have enjoyed it more. They weren´t the cleanest and there weren´t enough bathrooms, but they were something you should definitely try in your life.
He was skeptical.
After a few hours, we went home and I devoured food. And then it was siesta time and then it was go exploring and have dinner time. We walked to the Jewish Quarter of Budapest where we saw both the Rumbach Synagogue and the Dohany Synagogue (largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world).
It was hunge and impressive with all of the details on the face of the building. We did not go in, since it was closed, but tours are offered daily. After that, we meandered through the streets and came across a hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant. We weren´t very hungry and we only planned to have one plate, but then decided to share two since they were less than 5 Euros each. Our plan was to eat what we wanted and then take home the rest…but then we ate it all.
We finished the night with a couple half liters of beer (so cheap!) on the famous Gozsdu Udvar (street full of pubs and restuarants) talking about how Budapest was our favorite city and we were so lucky to be there.
Photo courtesy of Google.