As you know, I spent a few days in Budapest with friends last weekend. Despite the amazing weather and spectacular two-storey apartment, illness struck and I was unfortunately left bed-bound for around half the trip! Good thing our rooms had lush double beds, two baths, and a flat screen T.V…
Thankfully though, I did get to see some of Budapest’s most famed sites, and info from my friends means that I can report back any tips/tricks to those wanting to venture to Hungary’s capital.
On my first day out, we visited the Gellert baths. It was easily accessible from our accommodation; the tram stops just outside the hotel, and the baths are round the corner, all clearly signposted. For just over 5,000 Ft, we got entry to the baths and all the other amenities (various pools and sauna), and cabin usage. The cabins were a brilliant idea – they allowed us to change and store our belongings, as the doors lock automatically behind you.
Initially, we got a tad confused about the labelling of the various baths. There were signs pointing to lots of ‘male baths’ and ‘male steam rooms’, but no female ones! However, after enquiring with a member of staff, we learned that was an original feature of the baths 19th Century popularity. Back then, men and women were not allowed to bathe or swim together, so were separated. Nowadays though, despite the signs, men and women were free to mingle. This came as a delight to us, as the ‘male steam baths’ were around 4 degrees hotter!
According to the leaflet given to us upon arrival, it was no wonder I was already starting to feel better. I felt immediately refreshed once I lowered myself into the steaming pool of loveliness. The ‘certified medical waters’ contain calcium, natrium-magnesium hydrogene carbonates, sulphates and chlorides. Apparently, these are thought to help treat a range of ailments, including certain diseases of the spine, asthma, circulatory diseases and joint inflammation. We also walked through the large treatment room, in which you can get various massages (including a chocolate one!), pedicures, and mud packs. Private bathing is also available for the more extreme bather…I must say, I was tempted.
Next up was the sauna…and it was outside! We ran up the stairs onto the patio and shoved ourselves into a crowded 40 degree wooden box, with some man extravagantly whipping the sweat off his body and making unusual grunting noises (lovely image, I know). I’m usually a fan of saunas, but this one was far too over-crowded and just a little bit awkward for my liking, so we stayed around 15 minutes then headed for the outside thermal pool.
Of course, after being in a sauna, the pool didn’t feel as hot as it really was, but it was somewhat refreshing. The breeze on your face meant you never felt over-heated or trapped for air, which is what sometimes happens in a steaming bath. It was also nice to admire the surrounding buildings and the sunset just starting to set in.
We headed back to the apartment after this, however I wish we’d spent more time in the baths. You could easily spend 3 hours there, just alternating between the various services, and perhaps squeeze in a reasonably priced massage.
Just a few more snippets of info – the baths are open every day 6am-8pm, email is firstname.lastname@example.org and website is www.gellertbath.hu. They also have a Facebook page – www.facebook.com/GellertGyogyfurdo.
My next blog post will feature The House of Terror, Central Market, and some advice my friends picked up whilst off exploring without me!