Monday, April 30, 2012

The Land of Baths

(view from one of the bridges)

When I thought of Budapest, I thought of typical eastern european things. Strudel, blonde people, beer, and the movie Taken (the girls get kidnapped to Albania, but I figured Hungary was pretty close). Thankfully, I was only right about the first three. My relaxing spa weekend in Budapest was a success, filled with good food, tons of tanning and excessive amounts of sleep.

(yummm cherry strudel)

Alex and I arrived Thursday night and went straight to our hostel (Ginkgo Hostel) before our long day of sunning and shmoozing. I think our hostel was someone's apartment and they just rented rooms, because we didn't see another person staying there until the very last day. Whatever, it was nice and clean. Friday we explored a bit before heading over to the Gellert Hotel and Baths. It's a huge complex on the Buda side of the river (the city is actually broken up into two parts, the Pest side and the Buda side. We stayed on the Pest side). There are men's and women's thermal baths, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, an outdoor thermal bath, a massage center and plenty of room to lounge. I got a massage here on Sunday (first massage ever!), making these baths officially the most relaxing place ever.

(giant wave pool)

Friday night we ate at a beautiful greek restaurant right on the river, called Taverna Dionysos. I'm just always the happiest human when I can find food that's not Italian. Not that the food in Rome isn't beyond delicious, because it is, I'm just starting to feel like if I have to look at another strand of spaghetti I will most definitely strangle myself with it. So you can imagine how happy I was with tzatziki and pita.

Saturday we took the metro (subway? tube? underground? Unclear as to what it's called in other lands) to the Szechenyi Bath in the city park. It was a lot bigger with a lot more people, and a bit overwhelming. After another day of relaxing and tanning we decided to be less-lame-than-we-usually-are and went to Ice Bar! 

(just chilling on an ice couch. Get it? Chilling? I slay me)

Ice Bar is a chain that has locations in major cities all over Europe. Basically everything's ice, from the walls to the furniture to the glasses that the drinks are in. They give you these eskimo-like poncho/parkas and gloves so you don't freeze (even though we both wore open-toe shoes, whoops) and it's like a regular bar. Only you're cold and it's small. But it was an interesting experience, definitely worth doing.

(mushroom soup on left, and goulash)

For our last meal in Budapest we wanted traditional Hungarian fare, like goulash. We stumbled upon Chef Cafe, a quiet corner restaurant that looked nice. We started with forest mushroom soup and goulash, that they so nicely split for us. Goulash is like a beef stew with chunks of veggies that traditionally is adorned with fresh paprika (chopped spicy peppers). The idea of the restaurant was that you create your entree, given a variety of meats, sides, and cooking preparations. With help from our waiter, we ordered roasted chicken with cheesy mashed potatoes and cauliflower. And they brought out this: 

They interpreted our weird concoction in such a lovely way that it was almost too pretty to eat. Almost. And thus our Budapest spa weekend came to a close. As with all the other cities we went to, we came, we ate, we conquered. And this time, we left approximately 10 shades darker than when we arrived.

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