River dancing & thermal baths in the capital (B)

Trip Start Jun 22, 2010
Trip End Oct 15, 2010

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Flag of Hungary  , Budapest,
Tuesday, August 17, 2010

After lolling at the Lake we made our way north to the capital, Budapest. The drive through the capital is great particularly the long stretch of road beside the Danube that allows you to see all the sights of the Citadella and Parliament buildings as you cruise by.

Before we reached the inner city we made a trip to Monument Park, described as "socialist Disneyland" this is the dumping ground for the government the communist statues that they deemed unsuitable. A lot of the statues were really cool and quite modernist. There was also a small education centre where you learnt more about the Hungarian struggle against the communists aswell as insights into “the Life of a Hungarian Spy”. Worth a trip if you have your own wheels and are in Budapest.

From a recommendation of some Kiwis we met in Badascony we made our way to Camping Romai in north Buda. Once at the camping ground we made a hasty trip to the inner city to get some much needed supplies and getting back to the campsite quite late. The Kiwis had told us that a short walk from the campsite there were loads of riverside restaurants and it was really fun. We found a map and began walking towards what we hoped was the river. The streets were dark and peopleless . Dan suggested that the Kiwis were having a little joke at our expense. Ye of little faith - us Kiwis are not like that (that's Aussies…) and true to their word after ten minutes of dark walking we stumbled across a river lined path full of restaurants.

One restaurant had a live band singing what we thought might be Hungarian music.

We went there and ordered some catfish and potatoes. Turns out our command of the Hungarian language leaves a lot to be desired and they were in fact singing Greek songs, much to the delight of many patrons participating in Greek circle dancing. The foreigners were easy to pick out. Dan took great delight in laughing at a young guy in a red t-shirt clearly dragged up there by his girlfriend and displaying an impressive lack of rhythm.

Five minutes later I dragged Dan up there. One minute later I saw him and the red t-shirt guy sharing knowing smiles. There were now two foreigners to entertain the crowds.

After one particularly vigorous circle dance we had to retire, Dan hadn’t been holding the arms in the right way and  was wrenching my shoulder despite my best attempts to communicate it to him as we spun around and around in that fast circle. Good fun and we are now marginally prepared should we stumble across any Greek weddings when we arrive in Greece.

The next day we headed straight to the Var district. There were lots of people setting up stalls for the St Stephen’s Day preparations later that week. It was a beautiful area with loads of impressive architecture and very detailed roof tiling!

Following that we caught a tram to the Citadella and climbed up in the blistering heat. We took some pics of the Liberty statue and wandered around looking at the stalls. We had a go at archery, Dan utlising the knowledge from some long ago teenage lessons and me assuming that I would be a natural-I had after all watched Robin Hood,Prince of Thieves many times. Sadly I did not display the natural talents of Kevin Costner - I was quite far from shooting my own bull-eyed arrow in two but did manage to hit the sack of hay a few times and right over it once.

Following that we headed back down to catch a tram into town. We arrived at the tram station and Dan raced across the road as I opted for the underground subway. When at the stop we saw there were no tram ticket machines so I suggested to Dan that we look in the subway.  He protested and said, no no, lets just get on. I was not impressed (I know he gets some strange delight in foiling public transport) but as the tram was coming we jumped on. One stop too soon Dan was boasting about how he was right when the ticket checkers jumped on. We got a hefty fine and deservedly so.

Hopefully that has put a stop to Dan’s compulsion to push the public transport rules.

This time with tickets, we got on the metro to head to the Szechenyi Thermal Baths. The baths were amazing. There were three outdoor baths in surroundings that felt palatial. The hottest outside bath was 36 degrees and old men were sitting near the edges playing chess, waist deep in the hot water. Inside there were countless baths of varying temperatures as well as steam rooms (menthol and normal) and saunas and plunge pools. By one of the saunas there was a big overhead bucket that would get filled with cold water by a hose, it then had a rope for you to pull it down so the water drenched you. I’m not going to lie it was strangely satisfying to pull the rope down on Dan after the steaming hot sauna and I know he felt the same when he put the ice shavings down my back!

After a few hours at the baths we went to a nearby restaurant. It is famed for being run completely by women. I knew it would be good. And it was, the food was very good and what made it even more interesting was the table next to us that had a loud American man trying to negotiate the sale of a football player’s contract (Budapest FC?) with an African agent. He wants 370,000€ (cash) in case anybody is interested…..
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