To the Land of Thermal springs - City of Baths

"City of Baths"? I mean who would name in such a way? Well well, now I know - Budapest isn't called 'The City of Baths' for nothing. You'll soon too - just like I did!

Actually 2015 was pretty held up - hmm, or I'd say it became the Family year! Firstly we went to India for S's bro's wedding and then yet again for my sister's wedding, and then my parents came to Germany - finally we settle in at one place - which means Time to pack up to travel.. tadaa :)
Hmm, Spain - Best in Summer, Greece - also best for beaches, Iceland - too expensive for now, London - too cold... dugh...Finally- we decided to go to Slovakia and Hungary -everything fit in perfectly for these two! plus both of which were so beautiful in its own ways. Named one the biggest cities in Europe and one of the most beautiful cities - I now totally agree: these taglines were not chumma said. There were a lot of times, where all I could do was mesmerizing at the sheer beauty of the city with awestruck, wideopened eyes. So I thought, you, my reader, should travel alongside me to experience one of the best baths ever in Europe.

Well, Hungary is a land of thermal springs, and Budapest remains the only capital city in the world that is rich in thermal waters with healing qualities. Ah, I definitely dint know that until we researched about it. And also, it was that time of the year, where it is so freaking cold outside - and a blanket of fog closing in - yet splashing a gush of romantic air around you. Everywhere we looked up about Hungary, Budapest baths and spas were mentioned to be one of a kind (o.O What could be that extraordinary in a swimming pool?)- We had to know it. So it was definitely in our to-do list - a little more I guess, we'd alotted a whole day just for relaxing in the thermal bath.

To one of the largest public baths in Europe:  After a lot of wiki-pediaing and Google imaging, our pick out of the many baths available was the Széchenyi thermal bath (hard to pronounce na? True that, I used to call it the Castle Bath..hehe) Spectacular, grandiose and a whooping architecture : these baths are supposed to be one of the largest bathing complexes in Europe, and the only "old" medicinal baths to be found in the Pest side of the city. (Psst.. just check a few images before you read on more :always better with visualisation effects!) Seems the Budapest is rightly called so because it is the unison of the 'Buda' and the 'Pest' regions on either sides of the Danube river.

What's so special of the pools? (History alert :D) Well, the water supply for the bath is provided by some Saint Stephen Well Nr.II from 1927 onwards itseems. It is actually hot-spring water with calcium, magnesium, hydro-carbonate, also containing sodium and sulphate, with a significant content in fluoride and metaboric acid (Haha thats too many ions). The waters are recommended to help cure degenerative illnesses of joints, chronic and semi-acute arthritis, and orthopedic and post-injury treatments. Maybe these minerals had made it gain popularity with more and more visitors every year. Thatsy why the thermal artesian well could not supply the larger volume of water needed. So what would they do? Try drilling another and see if they are lucky enough to hit another thermal spring. Well, that they were. This second one was found in 1938 at a depth of 4,121 ft, at a temperature of 77 °C. It supplies 6,000,000 litres of hot watereveryday.(Phew too much a statistic) There are now 3 outdoor and 15 indoor pools, where both men and women can visit the main swimming and thermal areas.(Am done done, don't make faces people)
 
The Plunge:The grandiose main entrance beneath the Baroque dome (facing City Park) was so inviting, breezing you with a sense of relaxation: even before you enter. 


We were walking round and round the city park gazing at the castle (whilst the guys were searching for a Car Park - as always - lols) To its rear end, was another entrance wherein you could buy tickets enclosed with a lobby and a cafeteria. This lobby also had windows overlooking the blueness of the pool. I was already getting excited to the thermal waters. We then got down the stairs to change ourselves to the swimsuits (Oh yes, it is mandatory to wear a swimsuit and tie your hair up with a showercap if you're to go into the swimmers' pool). The cabin sections were so many in number, with lockers, hair dryers, showers and restrooms. You could see women in all ages and stages : some just out of bath, some dressed up fully drying out the hair as a final step and rest others, like me - bizarrely looking around as in where to change! And oh you can also book yourself a cabin so you and your partner can change in one together.. wink wink.

So right after we changed and came out to through the doors leading to the pools - Voila! There is an atmosphere around you, beaming with pride of grandeur and poise - pools resembling aspects associated during the Roman era, a smaller tub reminding you of the Greek culture and ofcourse the diving pools (especially for the swimmers) depicting the Northern European traditions. The Castle stood sky high, and magnificient. The best of all, we had no cameras with us - no selfies, no timers: except for the best camera you possess always: Eyes. I had to capture every detail in my eyes, so I would remember this as a fond memory - even after decades. Wow. Just wow! It  was as if I were taking a Royal Bath - absolute relaxation and beauty enclosing me.

Outdoors:  Wie gesagt, There were supposed to be 3 outdoor pools. Yeah? From far, as we stepped out of the lobby, we could see a huge warm pool with lazy waves, underwater jets here-and-there and a large whirlpool kind of Jacuzzi in the center(obviously it had the most number of people). They say this is the 'adventure pool'. It was 34°C here considering it was during Winter. S and I were simply relaxing along the stairs in the waters, afloat - staring at the beautiful Castle 360 degrees around us. It simply felt as if we were a part of the modern Renaissance. There’s nothing more pleasant than relaxing in the warm outdoor pool on a cold, snowy evening, isn't it?-blush blush. Woops, back to writing - where was I? Yeah, the Jacuzzi. The Jacuzzi in the center was with so much force that you just cant step yourself out into the river! It keeps altering its pace and you know it when it goes faster - People jump in esp when its rapid - the thrills, the kicks and screams - all happens on its own  - absolute madness. It also struck to me, that you dont need a language to communicate - afterall, we are all Humans! Jacuzzi was my favorite - Hands down.

At the other end of the pool was the 'thermal sitting pool' - with  38°C steaming waters. It had an advisory board that states you not to stay inside this pol for more than 20 minutes. We dint know it was the steaming pool and I was holding one of my friends hands while entering, 'My God, ivlo hot a irukku di' and she was mocking at me 'Romba pannadha, its the usual warm waters' and then she too entered - only to find it so hot that she almost jumped off her feet - and we laughed together. Best part was the water jets in corners along the walls - there were like a massage forcing off pressurized water and also in the floors. It makes you tickle the feet and massage your bum - lol. And then came a rectangular swimmer's pool - From the corner of my eye, I kept looking at S splashing water all over as he swam across. This one was also a warm pool - with 27°C though (Buhahaa, by now I'm suddenly obssessed with knowing the temperature of everything) It was here, along the stairs of these steaming waters - that you see men playing chess.(Yeah yeah, thats the image that pops up in most of Search results).

Sulphur and Sauna: So then we wanted to go check in indoors. There were supposed to be around 15 indoor pools na? Hmm, seems they were built older than outdoors - dating back to 1913. It was 4°C outside and we barely could realise the coldness until you step out of the waters - Damn : spine-chilling. These indoor pool are actually underneath the Dome wing, and as you enter the smell of sulphur chloride engulfs you.(Thanks to all the chemistry lab sessions, you now could realise the rotten egg smell comes from sulphur chloride) It took us a while to settle in to the indoor atmosphere after the bright scenery of the outdoors. There were so many pools - of different sizes, temperatures and depths. There were some as high as 40°C and some as low as 20°C! The cold waters are kept so that the pores open and close as we dip into them. Especially after coming out of the steaming waters, plunge yourself into the cold waters, My God - its so refreshing yet thrilling. It was only the first time that I felt as if I'll die of coldness, but soon you get used to it and keep wanting to dive in repeatedly.

Next to these pools - were rooms of wood and signboards outside - showing their temperatures. We first entered the 55°C one. A wave of heat gushed into my face as I stepped inside. It was a sauna room! It was just plain wooden slabs arranged like in a theatre - in levels. And people sit inside drying themselves off before they go into waters again. It sounded weird atfirst, why would you dry yourself in a steamer - take a towel! And then I realized, it was so much fun that you dont feel like leaving the pools off. Even better was the aroma sauna. There was an aura of different aroma along with the sauna that literally could give in so much relaxation that you actually fall asleep. Especially when they were cinnamon and eucalyptus - Indian flavors in the best of the saunas.There was also another steaming hot 110°C sauna - wherein we could stay just 10 mins at the maximum - My metal loop earrings almost burn my skin when it rubbed off my cheek - Haan, metals are conductors of heat, I thought. Just after you come out of saunas are the ice cold waters I told you before. Plus there were showers everywhere to cool us down and refresh. Don't worry, these are normal showers - you can adjust it to hot or cold or medium.

Other features: Apart from all this, there are also instructors who offer a series of balneal (looks a complicated word, but it actually means 'related to baths' - new na? I learnt it too just now - hehe) and physical therapies, like underwater gymnastics, treatments and weight baths.  And girls, they also offer mud packs and beauty therapies, aroma therapies, infra-sauna, massages, gym and Finnish saunas.

After all the swimming, relaxing and saunas - we waited until sundown - to see how they look at nights. With sun setting behind the castle, spreading its colors as it begins to fade away, the artificial lights under water began to lit.
With shades and shadows, together with the fog out from steamy waters - it was a scintillating sight. Just like you see here.

As I walked down out of the castle, after all the dressing up - I carried along with me: an experience that I would never forget, ofcourse with a sparkling skin: rich with minerals. 

So Next time you look to do something in Europe, Go take a dip in the Thermal Springs: A Must- do in Budapest, indeed!

Comments

  1. All this travelling in and out of India must be exhausting !!
    Had read about the 'Buda' and the 'Pest' earlier.
    You have made it look very interesting.
    Must visit this place one day, especially the aroma sauna.

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    Replies
    1. Travelling back and forth, well True that. Thanks Zoe! :)

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