Budapest (always pack a bathing suit)

Took the train to Budapest for a quick side trip.

Four things 

1. Szechenyi Baths

There are bath houses all over Hungary. Szechenyi Baths is “the largest medicinal bath in Europe.” I failed to bring a waterproof camera. Luckily, other people did not repeat my mistake.

 

szechenyi bath outside.jpg
Credit: Unknown interwebs person. In the center of the gigantic heated outdoor pool at Szechenyi are two concentric circles. 

For some reason people like to run half submerged laps in the outside circle, creating a whirlpool. In order to enter the middle section and claim a seat you must first enter the tide of humanity freeway, circle to your right and then smoothly exit the vortex into the inner circle.

Due to the momentum of the crowd and the water, if you miss the exit you must circle again until you get it right. I have no idea why but this was endlessly amusing. Grown ass men giggled like schoolgirls.

Skip to 1:00 of this man’s semi creepy vacation video to see:

We went late in the afternoon and got to see sunset. The baths look like this at night.

szechenyi night.png
Credit: Unknown interwebs person

Apparently they throw parties (DJs, house music, laserrrrrs, etc.) here during the summer. Inside they have various pools set to different temps, saunas and steam rooms. The highlight of my visit was escaping a super hot steam room by dunking myself into the cold plunge pool, followed by escaping hypothermia by warming up…in the steam room! A hairy old dude showed me how to do this. As I plunged into the pool and emerged we locked eyes, basking in the shared knowledge of what it is to be Men. It was A Moment.

EDIT: Actually he just yelped like a girl – I had to witness it! – JN

Also…always pack a bathing suit and flip flops when you travel. I had a friend once who forgot this rule when he visited Szechenyi and was forced to wear a rented bathing suit. He also had to pee in the public bathroom barefoot while desperately trying to not imagine the layers of griminess beneath his bare feet. So, yeah, don’t forget your suit and flops.

2. Ruin Pubs

Find an abandoned building. Decorate it. Serve booze, display art, host shows/farmers markets/open mics…and they will come.

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Once upon a time Ruin Pubs were underground. There were no signs. Stupid and loud drunks lead to complaints leads to bar getting shut down. Therefore, people entered and exited quietly. Now, locations are public knowledge and the neighbors are all in attendance.

We went to one of the first evar ruin bars, Szimpla Kert (founded in 2002). It was a pretty big place with two floors and all kinds of nooks and crannies to be explored. Booze was cheap. Glenfiddich could be had for four Euros (yeah I’m fancy). Glass of red wine, 2 Euros. We got to see some work by local artists and catch a local alt-folk band that had a gypsyish vibe with a human beatbox dude, a clarinetist (?) and a flutist.

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3. Buda Castle

Because learning history in castles is the bees knees.

Did you know?

Budapest found itself under siege and laid to waste somewhere between three and eighty four times in its history.  This one time in band camp, the Ottoman Turks came and every person in the city was killed. Thank who or whatever you believe in for being born in the first world in a time of peace.

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4. New York Cafe. The most beautiful cafe in the world.

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“The stall was a temple of solitude. This is definitely the nicest place I’ve pooed.” – JL

5. Terror House

Around WWII, the Arrow Cross regime installed by the Nazi party did some terrible things. Then the regime installed by Stalin after defeating the Nazis did some even more terrible things. Not too much to take pics of but a sobering reminder of what people are capable of doing to each other.

Now, here are some random pictures:

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Kthatsit.

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