April 5, 2014
SPA ADVENTURE & LABYRINTH
Budapest’s fame for its dozens of thermal spas or bath houses has earned it the nickname “city of waters.” Szechenyi Spa, one of the most famous and beautiful, was only a ten minute walk from our hotel so Saturday afternoon, our last day in Hungary, I headed toward it.
Locals and a smattering of tourists enjoyed the various thermal pools, both inside and outside despite the cool temperature (perhaps 58 degrees farenheit). A staff person guided me from my little private dressing room/locker through several hallways and outside, suggesting I start at the far end of the spa. To get there I walked past two big outdoor pools (the third remained closed) and observed hundreds of people luxuriating in the thermal waters.
It was a bit too chilly to stay outside so I scurried in my bathing suit across a hundred yards or so to the other end of the massive spa. In the hour or so there, I enjoyed five different thermal pools, each a different temperature. I skipped the cool and lukewarm ones and opted for the ones that felt like a bath. All pools use thermal water.
To conclude my visit, I braved the elements and plunged into the bigger outdoor pool. It was fairly crowded but maneuverable. I enjoyed a “natural massage” by standing under a small waterfall, allowing the tumbling warm water to hit my shoulders. Observing a small round pool within the pool, I ventured in. The manmade current swirled me around the perimeter of the warm pool. The current was so strong that I missed the exit the first time around, resulting in great amusement and a loud laugh from me. This little mishap made me determined to exit on the second go-round and I made it out on my next try.
Leaving the swirling pool proved much easier than leaving the Spa. I headed toward the door where I had begun my experience an hour or so earlier. That was the beginning of my labyrinth challenge. It took more that 40 minutes and the Help (?—some people guided me the wrong way) of at least 5 people to find my locker/cabin. Finally the 3rd Spa employee guided me to my cabin. Even she got lost once, taking me to the same # locker but in the wrong building. I felt slightly better about my inability to find my way out when I bumped into two Americans at the main exit who admitted the had wandered around for more than 30 minutes trying to exit.
BEST TWO HOURS IN BUDAPEST were spent at a wonderful folkloric performance of traditional dances and music in a beautiful theater. That’s how Kathy and I spent our last evening. The orchestra consisted of 7 violins, a string bass and two cembalum (an Eastern Europe instrument played with mallets that resembles a very large dulcimer–for the classical music buffs among the readers, you might recognize its sound from Kodaly’s Hary Janos Suite).
Not only did the music delight us but the costumed dancers, who performed in about half of the program, earned our praise. They offered six or seven dances, several from specific regions within Hungary. Their colorful traditional costumes and amazing footwork pleased the audience.
Overall, Budapest lived up to its expectations.