For our last day in Budapest, we headed to the Széchenyi Turkish baths. After a morning spent trying to track down where to buy swimwear we finally found a sports store. After trying on a few pairs of speedos (from the razor back style to cat suit), I settled on a slightly ill-fitting but mildly flattering black one-piece.
We arrived at the grand entry to the Turkish Baths. We were given an individual cabin to change and then headed out to the main pool. Although the weather was a little cool, the pool was a nice temperature for a dip. After some swanning around the pool, we noticed a bunch of people roaring with laughter and seemingly running around in a circle to make a whirlpool. As we approached, we realised there was water jets propelling people in circular motion.
People were tumbling and bumping into each other and I had never seen grown adults having so much fun. So of course, Eldad and I joined in. It was the funniest thing being caught in a whirlpool of strangers. Sometimes, you would lose your footing and end up a little too close to the hairy back of an old man in front! The hardest thing though was getting out of the whirlpool once you were in. It took a concerted effort at a specific point in the whirlpool, if you missed it, you were in for another turn. It was good fun and even funnier to watch.
After this riot, we decided to try out the steam rooms and pools of different temperatures. There is a process one must follow for this: beginning with shower, sauna, shower, cold pool, shower, warm pool etc. Being novices we casually sat in the first room – a sauna of 90 degrees. It was excruciatingly uncomfortable and it wasn’t long before I felt my necklace burning my neck and had to leave. I had seen other people who had left immerse themselves in a small pool. I followed suit and discovered the pool was probably about minus 10 degrees. I gasped as I stepped in up to my knees and decided it wasn’t for me.
When Eldad emerged from the sauna, I of course told him he had to use the small pool and that I had already done it. I saw the shock on his face as the cold temperature registered, but Eldad remained steadfast and immersed his whole body in the pool. “That was so cold!” he proclaimed. “How long did you stay in for?” he asked. I had to admit it was only nano-seconds that I lasted.
After this was a series of pools of varying temperatures, an interesting experience and a very sociable place for the locals. After one more turn in the whirlpool, we emerged from our Turkish bath experience.
I enjoyed a Hungarian goulash soup for our last evening. We had eaten some great food in Budapest, very heart and warming meals. We turned in relatively early as we had an early start the next morning to get a bus to Bratislava.