Hedonism, Budapest style

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
Trip End Sep 30, 2010

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Where I stayed
Peppermint Hostel

Flag of Hungary  ,
Thursday, June 17, 2010

I'm not sure why, but Budapest reminds me of Buenos Aires. Maybe its the dirt, the graffiti or the smell. Or just the general run down big city air, the wide streets, the traffic and a population who all smoke non stop on the street. All the grand old buildings are actually spring chickens, by European standards, thanks to widespread destruction at the end of WWII the current city is mostly Soviet era reconstruction, thankfully in the style of the old Budapest and not in the style of concrete cubes.

Adhering to the when in Rome motto, we bought tickets to the opera. Perhaps I shouldn't mention that the tickets were actually cheaper than just paying the tourist entry fee to see the opera house. Or that they upgraded us from our $4.50 seats to much nicer ones for free. The opera was Wagner's the Master singers of Nuremberg, and much to our surprise was actually really enjoyable despite not being able to understand German or read Hungarian. It did go for 5 hours though, at which point we suddenly realised why the ticket seller had been looking at us so doubtfully, and kept asking us if we were sure we wanted tickets. Or maybe it was just how we were woefully (under)dressed.

In the same vein we also visited the Budapest baths, which were sold to us by other tourists as 'like a Turkish bath, but without the large hairy Turkish guy scrubbing you'. Good enough for me. As it turns out, Budapest is situated over thermal springs, which are utilised to great extent in the baths, with numerous pools of varying mineral balances and radioactivity and frighteningly powerful jets, whirlpools and saunas of every imaginable temperature up to 100 degrees. It is surprising how relaxing sitting around in the pool all day really is. Or maybe the lethargy is something to do with that radioactive pool.
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