Friday, July 2, 2010

I Believe in Bathing!

Can sitting in water warmed by the guts of the earth cure you of your ills? What if it is slightly radioactive? I was willing to risk it. After arriving so sick in Budapest I thought the ground was made of marshmellow and my face pierced with an iron spike, I slept twelve hours and woke feeling minimally better. I was having a hard time navigating the city and I was too tired to try very hard. Frustrated, I read about the Gellert Baths. I took many wrong turns trying to get out of the Royal Palace grounds, and finally arrived. Even if the mineral water does not make you feel better, bating in an art nouveau wonderland will. Maybe you forgot that Hungary was doing ok before two world wars and communism, even though they were not quite independent. These baths were built at the turn of the century. Fountains and cold pools for swimming and numerous warm and hot baths for soaking, inside and out. This one is my favorite, the cold pool inside under a sliding glass ceiling that retracts on nice afternoons. I walked back to my hostel content and slept well.
I knew there were also public baths in Budapest but I thought it would be indulgent to go again. But at two p.m. this afternoon, I was hot, cranky, and tired of looking at art (finally!). I was near the public baths in City Park and two hours later I emerged from the waters a better person. Even the crowded outdoor pools could not bring me down. This was the best people watching in Budapest. I saw an older leather skinned man take a break from his in a bath chess game to swat at a man taking photos of him. Another point for the Hungarians versus the Tourists. I smiled and kept my mouth shut. The only time I tried to say thank you in the native tongue, the lady replied in english "what language do you speak?" .
Am I cured? I felt a lot better. I still keep the kids up at night in the hostel with my coughing but I have had two lovely days of soaking, strolling, people watching and vegan food. On to Poland.