Thursday, 18 April 2013

Budapest 01: Take a Bath!

Budapest, Hungary's capital, is a beautiful city. It is not as rich as nearby Vienna, which is spectacular with its in your face display of wealth, but Budapest has a charm all its own.

Heroes Square, Budapest

I had such a blast in Budapest (and Vienna too!). We had J, a college schoolmate and longtime Budapest resident for a host, so there was no time wasted in getting lost. It was a stress-free trip for us visitors, at least!

The bridges, the River Danube, Buda Castle, the Cathedral, Goulash and other Magyar cuisine offerings and an amazing, known-only-to-locals chocolate discovery. Budapest may not be as famous and flashy as other European cities, but it has a lot to offer and is a fantastic and relatively cheaper place to visit.

The two districts, Buda and Pest, transected by the River Danube

If you ask me now, what comes to mind first when I think of Budapest, it's the Amazing Baths!

Go and enjoy the thermal baths! Budapest holds the title "City of Spas" because of its thermal baths and it is 100% well deserved.

We took the afternoon bath pass at Budapest's most famous spa, Szechenyi and WOW! The 4000 Hungarian Forinth (roughly 15 Euros) entrance fee was so worth the price!

One of the outdoor pools. Taken after the pools closed at 10 PM while I was changing into street clothes. The changing rooms overlook the outdoor pools

The three outdoor bath pools with varying temperatures are in the classic Romanesque style complete with statues and yellow lights. The ambience is elegant yet very relaxing. There's also an outdoor swim pool (but you need a swim cap to use the pool) and dozens of indoor bath pools. The water temperature ranges from 20 degrees to 40 degrees. With so much choices, there is no chance to get bored. It was funto dip into the hot 40 degrees pool for a bit then jump into the coldest 20 degrees pool for a quick splash. Hot and Cold water therapy was never this fun!

The other outdoor pools

Some of the indoor pools have "flavors" --- lavender, tea, sulfur (anti-bacterial).
The clincher is that the spring water in the baths is mineral-rich and is touted as effective to help cure joint and bone pain and muscular degenerative diseases. Even the drinking water is health-friendly: As it's mineral rich and alkaline, it is said to help those with kidney and intestinal problems.

May I also add that the baths are also the perfect place to people watch. People are in bikinis and trunks and the atmosphere is so laidback. Note that proper swimwear is strictly enforced, meaning bathing suits not shorts and sand.

It's so obvious, no? I was captivated by Budapest's baths. It certainly upped the ante on my idea of a long relaxing bath!

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