If not now – When?

Travels around the world (with Beth and Chris)

Archive for the tag “Budapest”

Taking a bath

It’s cool and cloudy today. It seems like a perfect day to check out the thermal waters of Budapest.

We stuff our backpacks with towels, bathing suits and flip-flops and head across the Danube over the sage green Liberty Bridge. There is ample sidewalk for bicyclers, skateboarders, people with cameras, river gawkers, and regular pedestrians. We stop where someone has long ago pasted a sticker that says “good kiss spot”. An enormous tourist barge with a life-size chess board on deck emerges from under the bridge. I notice the locks (signifying the commitment of an everlasting Budapest love) that couples have fastened on the curley-que iron railing. I think about finding a lock before we move away from Budapest ♥

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IMG_2843Gellért Baths are housed on the Buda side of town. They were built in the early 1900’s using the abundant thermal healing waters (minerals composing the waters are sodium, magnesium, sulfate and more) that dub Budapest as the “City of Spas”. At the entrance in the ornate building we receive our electronic bracelets that will admit us into the bath area and keep our stuff locked up. We wander back to the changing areas, don our suits and flip-flops, and meet at the bottom of the steps. Now to find the waters is a bit of a maze that is not made clear even with the use of the map – until you understand it. The indoor swimming pool where mostly older people are swimming (bathing caps are obligatory here) and sitting under the lion heads emitting warm water from their mouths is the first pool we find (we don’t go in). We pass by “cabins”, massage and health “treatment” area (we do not indulge here), shower areas, and finally find the thermal baths. There are four – you visit two at a time. We first go into the 35° C and 38° C baths, switching back and forth between the two and relaxing on the underwater benches at the source of the heated water. There are all ages, sizes, and languages in the warm and minerally fragrance-free H2O. Tucked in a corner is a tiny scintillating 18° C pool –  I try to go in and can’t make it past my knees – it’s frigid! There is a steam room with blue lights under the two-tiered blue and white tiles benches. The steam is so thick that you feel as though you must clear the air with your hands in order not to sit on someone’s lap. We spend a few minutes here, inhaling the heavy air, then go back into the hot waters for a few more plunges. Crossing to the other side of the original swimming pool, we find the other two baths and alternate between 33° C to 40° C situating ourselves under the Art Nouveau cherubs holding their turtle. This side feels older to me as I wonder at the tile patterns, lion drinking fountains, beautiful glass ceiling, the weightlessness of my body, and my wrinkly fingertips that tell me it’s finally time to go. We have been in the baths for over an hour (Chris’ sciatica has been temporarily relieved); we both feel loose and a bit wobbly as we cross back over the bridge and back to our place in Pest.

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IMG_2866Another neat-o Budapest experience!

xo

The Five Elements

Let’s go get a Thai massage!

There are so many choices in Budapest for a Thai massage. So, of course we consulted TripAdvisor. We decided on a placed called The Five Elements. After a metro ride, then walking for a few blocks, we found the place.

We cut through the sun-filled courtyard and into the small spa. It smelled good. The short blond young woman at the small desk spoke English with a Hungarian accent and wore a short black kimono –style dress. She agreed to show us around before we committed to the next almost naked 75 minutes of our lives. She showed us to the dimly lit room where there were two massage tables draped with white towels topped with an orchid, a couple of wooden elephant heads where she suggested we hang our clothes, a paper lantern, sink, a spa-ish wall hanging, and soft music. We decided on Thai oil massages (vs. the dry Thai massage which apparently is “yoga stretching”  – hmmmm, maybe I’ll try that next time) – lavender for me, peppermint for Chris.

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Chris and I quickly got down to our skivvies (actually, we were each provided a pair of disposable “underwear”……tehetehetehe). We each got face down onto our respective tables (by now the orchid was on the floor placed right where I could see it from the face hole in the table) and waited to be covered. The masseuses quietly came in the room. At this point, the experience is an individual one, but happening in the same room.

The first sensation I had after the towel was placed on my back was of my masseuse washing my feet. She then pressed on my feet and legs through the towel. I then sensed that she was up on the table straddling me (she was) and continuing to apply pressure all the way up my back through the towel. I was dying to lift my head up to see if this was happening to Chris too (I didn’t. It was.). She eventually, light as a feather,  got off the table and using her strong and able hands worked her way around my body – back, neck, legs, feet, toes, fronts of the legs, arms, hands, fingers, sides and chest (at one point since I was still on my stomach with my face through the donut hole,  I could see her bare feet making her way around – at this point, to my shoulders). Long strokes, circular sweeping motions, fingertips sliding along the muscles – all with the lavender oil. She pressed her fingers deeply into my stomach, then back up to my neck, face, and scalp. Eventually we were both asked to sit up, and each of the women got behind us on the table and did more work – stretching our arms and necks – using their arms and legs. The last part of the massage was a return to washing the feet.

After we got dressed, they gave us tea while we basked in the relaxation of our massages.

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Wow. We felt great! We will be returning to The Five Elements again soon.

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Beginnings in Budapest

We have moved past France: the locks, hearty crusty bread, lovey-dovey people, and travels with Baba –  into Budapest: completely different place and people.

So we begin Chris’ retirement in Beautiful Budapest, just Chris and Beth. This is a new chapter for us…

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Chris and I are are focused on different aspects of processing the first few days of this experience. As I’m sure you can imagine he’s got the adapters, WD-40, cords and technology, maps/GPS, logistics, wine, looking at wood crafts and for a gym. I am paying attention to markets (thinking of preparing meals in our apartment), interacting with people – trying to figure how to communicate a little bit in Hungarian (as of now I can say “one” and “thank you”), softening up our high ceilinged (15 feet) spacious apartment with a few small plants (some edible) and moving the couches toward the circular lacey window nook, looking for souvenir earrings and yoga. This is part of our balance as a couple.

We purchased monthly passes for the metro/trolley/bus system and are getting the hang of moving about on foot (I’ve already shed at least one croissant from my hips) and using the extensive public transportation. We are not used to living in a city and are happy to have so much available so close-by. The first night  I cooked our chicken dinner mostly with Szimpla Sunday Market (google it) stuff and Hungarian Sauvignon Blanc, Chris went to the store and was back literally in less than ten minutes for – you guessed it – more wine. I guess if you are used to city living, that’s not that cool…but for suburbanites like us, it’s an exciting novelty.

Yesterday we finally met our thoughtful and helpful American friends Julia and Marc for a great lunch at Gepárd És Űrhajó (translates to “Cheetah and Spacecraft”). I am happy to have met up with a fellow foodie – she will not steer us wrong when it comes to food and drink suggestions!!! More beginnings.

Today we visited the Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeumban) and saw the temporary exhibit of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec as well as other beautiful works of art including the building itself. Tonight we saw our friends Albert and Paul, from the Kapital Inn (google it) where our Budapest adventure ultimately began.

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xo

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