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Day 9: Thermal Bath. Outdoors. Snow. Seriously.

Saturday, November 28

Growing up, my Mama Flocer, my grandma who took care of me and my brother while our parents were at work, never allowed us to play in the rain. I saw my cousins and friends play in the rain, but not me. Well, that all changed today.

Gellert Bath
When I prepared for our return trip to Europe, I read up many TripAdvisor postings about Baths in Budapest. I thought, “seriously?” Especially in the heart of late Fall, early winter time, the last thing that came to my mind was to jump in a pool of water. Well, According to the website, VisitBudapest, “Budapest isn’t called the ‘City of Baths’ for nothing. 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. Budapest is also one of the few places where you can experience traditional Turkish baths dating back to 16th and 17th centuries.” Therefore, it was inevitable that we just had to give it a try. We decided to go to Gellert Baths, a 5-10 minute bus ride from our hotel. Gellert and Szechenyi are the top 2 baths that draw lots of visitors. Szechenyi was a bit of a trek to get to, so we opted to go to Gellert Baths. 

I noticed that it was a little damp outside. The other days, while not sunny, didn’t rain at all. Well, call me naive (I’m guilty since I grew up in Southern California), but I looked out and thought, “Hmmmm, that does not look like rain drops!” I was right, it was snowing out. Well, it wasn’t a major snowstorm or anything, but it was snow, nonetheless. The more I started to wonder if it was a great idea to head to a thermal bath when it was snowing outside. What the heck, we went for it. But before going to Gellert’s, we found a little bakery, Gellert Pekseg, and had a pastry to start our morning.

Gellert’s Baths is part of the Gellert hotel. We had to walk around the hotel to get to the baths. We opted for an entry fee plus a “cabin” – basically, a private changing room. We were shown which pools and baths were available, the temperature of the baths, and which ones were accessible for the day. There were quite a few thermal baths available, and we opted to try most of them in their varying temperatures. At first, we did a thermal bath musical chairs indoors. It wasn’t a jacuzzi or anything like that. Instead, it’s a big pool of medicinal, therapeutic warm/hot water. 

It was ironic to be wearing my Maui and Sons board shorts while it snowed lightly in Budapest
The main indoor pool

After enjoying the indoor baths, Nancy wanted to check out the outdoor bath. I looked at her and said, “seriously, it’s snowing out?” She was serious! So we went outdoors. THE. BEST. DECISION. Here’s a short clip on the light snowfall while we were in the outdoor bath.

The bigger outdoor pool was closed for the winter, but there was another pool that was available for our use. Why the best decision? It was so relaxing to be in a hot pool, where we saw the steam rose from the water, and then to do everything outside, watched the snow fall….that was an amazing experience, something Nancy and I will never forget.

Doner Kebab….again
We spent about a couple of hours at Gellert, and after our bath escapade, we took the bus back to our hotel. The bus stopped near the Batthyani Ter, we had an option to walk to our hotel or grab lunch. We went with the latter. We were quite Hungary and ordered Gyro, Greek Salad, Falafel, and a couple of desserts. It was a visual pleasure to look at the food that was given to us. We were very pleased with our lunch, all for close to $6 (including a soda). After lunch, we finally went back to our hotel, rested for a bit, charged our cell phones and headed out around 2:30pm back to the Pest side.

Greek Salad
Falafel pita

Szechenyi, Heroes Square
This was our last full day in Budapest and we wanted to explore a few more sights. After taking the train, we went to Szechenyi, the other popular bath in Budapest. It’s bigger than Gellert’s. There was a huge pool outside, and it was steaming hot, and while we didn’t go in, we could see that the crowd was enjoying their time in this cold Saturday afternoon. 

 We also headed down to Heroes Square and took pictures outside the nearby Vayunhada Castle and other museums in the area.

For the rest of the evening, I decided to stroll around Oktogon area. There were lots of restaurants. The one recommended by someone from TripAdvisor, Hoppa Etterem, closed earlier today. So, we were on our own and decided which joint would catch our attention. As we strolled down, we also noticed Liszt Music Academy, a gorgeous solid building.

Frici Papa

After a few minutes, Nancy stopped at Frici Papa. It wasn’t brightly lit from the outside, no big fancy signs, but what’s the selling point here? The crowd! It was packed for an early Saturday evening. We went inside and opted to sit upstairs, and to no surprise, there were even more people upstairs. We ordered the beef goulash, fried pork rib, and for dessert, a pancake/crepe with cottage cheese & whip cream, & pureed chestnut and cream. plus for our drinks – Homemade Lemonade and Raspberry with syrup. It was as authentic as it could get. Nothing pretentious about this place. We ate all of that, after the conversion back to US dollars – around $11 total. This was not a fast food joint. This was a full-service restaurant. It was wonderful.

More Budapest please
On our way back to the hotel, I told Nancy that we should stop at Kossuth Lajos Ter (a train stop near the Parliament). We’ve never taken a good picture of us with the Parliament in the background, with the Buda Castle District, with the National Gallery, and with the Szechenyi Bridge. It was our last evening and it was our way of savoring our last evening here.

As we made our way to the hotel, we stopped for at Cafe Angelika and had one more dessert, Somloi cake and a fruit tea for Nancy. 

That was our Day 9 – thanks so much for following us.

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