Thermal Baths and the Citadel

Trip Start Apr 25, 2013
Trip End Nov 02, 2013

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What I did
The Citadel

Flag of Hungary  ,
Saturday, August 17, 2013

We woke today to blue skies, sunshine and 27C. Perfect for todays main destination, the Szechenyi Thermal Baths and Swimming Pools. This complex has 21 pools, and is one of the biggest in Europe. We arrived by tram, to the same Varosliget gardens as yesterday. There was some confusion finding the right entrance with our prepaid vouchers, but with the help of a couple equally confused German girls in the same boat, we made it. It was an interesting place, well and truly crowded with people on such a gorgeous day. The main outdoor pool was pretty fun, equipped with a rapid river circle, that pushed you around with jet currents. From there we explored many of the indoor thermal pools one by one, each with its own character and style. Some were scorching hot, some cool, some with water weights, currents, massage jets or bubbles. After a couple hours, as winkled as 90 year olds, we jumped back on the tram to the city.
We walked along the river and crossed the bridge, bound for Gelleri Hegy and the Mountain top Citadel that overlooks Budapest. Getting to the top was quite a hike. We stopped along the way at the Chapel in the Rock Cathedral, a church built inside a cave. With an admission fee and skeptical of its worth exploring I suggested one of us check it out, advising the other if it was worthwhile. I was chosen, and with a broken audio guide and small size, Nat didn't pay to follow me. After a further grueling 20 minute walk, we reached the citadel. Arguably one of my favorite lookouts to date, it offered spectacular views of the city and region, in almost 360 degrees. The citadel was a huge stone fortress, coupled with the giant Statue of Liberty monument, which is visible from nearly anywhere in Pest.
We made our way back down, onto tram and train, back over the bridge to dinner to a restaurant called Frici Papa, recommended by a friend. Good choice, it was relaxed, extremely cheap and delicious. We both had goulash, beef for me, mushroom for Natalie. 
Back at the hotel around 8, on our last night here, we decided to go for a walk upto the neighboring castle. Good idea. We were treated to beautiful views over Budapest, lit up at night, along with the Castle complex, Parliament over the river and Matthias Cathedral.
Tomorrow, we leave Hungary and Budapest behind, bound on a 3pm bus to Vienna in Austria. Its been a good experience here, but overall, I'm not too sad about leaving. There are a few reasons for this. First, the city isn't particularly special, unique or spectacular compared to that of neighboring countries. Second, there is a feel of scammers, greed and tourist inflation, much more than usual. We were charged 1500 HUF ($8AUD) for an average hot dog today at a market. We have been short changed multiple times here, tonight by an old lady at a milk bar buying a coke. She saw me counting the change and then some Hungarian rant rendered by query invalid. Service and mystery charges are always added, but not consistent. Information even seems to have a cost. I found few people open to a friendly gesture or comment, few smiles and little welcome. Just my thoughts, and not always the case. Some have been lovely. Further, unpleasant odor is way higher than usual and the entire city seems infested with filthy flying bugs. Very rare for a capital city! Ive enjoyed much of this place, but returning soon would not be a priority. I feel theres better options.
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