Can you believe August is over? I don’t know about you, but for me, time is flying. Steve and I have done more this month than in any of the previous sixteen months we’ve been in Hungary.
We spent many hours luxuriating in the Budapest baths. We also revisited the zoo and explored three nearby towns. These are the highlights.All money is in U.S. Dollars unless otherwise stated.
New Covid cases in Hungary have remained low all summer. Right now, there are less than 200 new cases per day. But that doesn’t mean we are out of the woods. The Hungarian government is prepared to take steps to protect people in the country if the Delta variant takes off here. Steve and I try to be positive, but we expect a fourth wave.
Splish Splash We’ve Been Lovin’ the Baths
The Palatinus Strand is like your neighborhood pool if your neighborhood pool had ten outdoor pools of varying temperatures, an indoor thermal bath, water slides, and a wave pool.
There are also two saunas and a steam room. You can get a massage for an additional fee. As of this writing, a 45-minute massage costs $22.
Palatinus Strand is popular with families, partly because it is more affordable than the well-known Szechenyi and Gellert Baths. It costs about $10 to visit Palatinus, compared to $18 to visit the Szechenyi or Gellert Baths.
A visit to the Szechenyi Baths doesn’t come cheap, but it is worth it. These baths are one of the largest spa complexes in Europe. You can see the century-old Neo-Baroque building in the featured photo above.
You can bask in the elegant setting while enjoying three outdoor or fifteen indoor pools. Water temperature ranges from 65 to 104 degrees F (18 to 40 degrees C). There are also three saunas and three steam rooms. Massages are available for an additional fee. As of this writing, a 45-minute massage costs $32.
Two of the indoor pools at the Szechenyi Baths
When you visit the baths there is none of that heavy chlorine smell I associate with swimming pools, especially indoor ones. I wondered why. I found the answer here.
For thermal pools the water comes from natural hot springs. It is filtered and the water is replaced every day. No chemicals are added to the thermal pools.
The other pools are treated with a minimum amount of chlorine and salt.
Three Side Trips
We’ve been taking advantage of the low number of Covid cases to see parts of Hungary outside of Budapest. In August, we visited three Western Hungarian towns. The first was the spa town of Hévíz, located 120 miles (193 km) southwest of Budapest.
People go to Hévíz to bathe in thermal Lake Heviz. Even though it is the largest thermal lake in the world suitable for swimming, it is not very big. The lake covers about 11 acres (4.4 hectares).
You can swim in the lake, but most people float on pool noodles
The lake is fed by mineral-rich water that has curative properties. It is recommended for people suffering from rheumatic diseases and locomotor disorders. The lake is around 95 degrees F (35 C) in the summer and 75 degrees F (24 C) in the winter. The water in the lake is replaced every 72 hours.
We stayed at Ensana Thermal Hévíz for two nights, where we enjoyed the three indoor and two outdoor pools. The water temperatures ranging from 82 to 100 degrees F (28 to 38 degrees C).
Veszprém is a small city 75 miles (120 km) southwest of Budapest. It is easy to reach by train or bus.
The main reason we visited Veszprém was to see the Herend Porcelain Museum in the nearby town of Herend. The visit included a factory tour, and after seeing the work that goes into their products, I understand why they are so costly. Each piece is hand-painted.
This piece costs more than $35,000.
There were plenty of English translations and QR codes. Tours are available in English. Ours was very well done.
As is common in small towns and cities, there isn’t a lot to do in Veszprém. Even so, we enjoyed climbing the hill to the castle district and searching for the three Kolodko mini-statues that call Veszprém home.
Ödön, The Street Musician, Ernő, The Guard, and Leonora, The Girl and The Lion
The creator of these sculptures is Mikhail Kolodko. He has several in Ukraine and Hungary including about twenty in Budapest. You can see some of them in ”The Funky Side of Budapest.”
A few random photos of Veszprém
Next, we headed to Székesfehérvár, which is 40 miles (65 km) southwest of Budapest. Again we had a specific sight in mind. We wanted to visit Bory Castle. We loved it.
Bory Castle was the home of architect and sculptor Jenő Bory and his family. The one-acre lot only contained a wine vault and press house when Bory purchased it in 1912. From 1923 to 1959, he added to the castle, designing as he built. He did most of the work himself.
The castle is filled with paintings and sculptures, many created by Bory and some by his wife.
You can easily spend a few hours there discovering delightful touches and enjoying different perspectives. You can climb towers and visit areas with romantic names like the Elephant Garden and the Hundred Pillared Courtyard. Every time I see a place like this, I imagine what it would be like to grow up there.
Here are more photos from Bory Castle. Click on the photos to see the captions.
We also spent some time in the Árpád Bath while in Székesfehérvár.
One of the lounging areas in the Árpád Baths
We didn’t enjoy this as much as the Budapest baths because all the pools except the cold plunge pool were the same temperature. And none were really hot.
The bath has several saunas and a steam bath. There is also a tepidarium, which is a room in which you sit or lay on warm ceramic tiles.
After the baths we headed to the Hetedhét Toy Museum. It is full of toys from the 18th and 19th centuries, with an emphasis on dolls and dollhouses.
Drawers under the displays pull out to reveal more dolly delights
The museum’s website doesn’t translate into English, but they provide translations on all the exhibits.
As you can imagine, Steve didn’t love this, but he was patient while I explored. I’m not a doll-lover, but I figured as long as I was there, I might as well enjoy it. Besides, it was cold and rainy outside.
A Cool Day At The Zoo
It has been a hot summer, but once in a while, we get a cool day. We took advantage of one early in the month to make our third visit to the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden. It is located in the city and is easy to get to. This zoo is not large at only 44 acres (18 hectares), but there is a lot to see. There are over 10,000 animals from over 1,000 species.
We enjoyed watching this cute prairie dog.
Each time we go to the zoo, we discover something new. On this visit, it was the bat cave.
Most bats were chillin’, a few were flying!
This Month’s Media
There were no new Wind and Whim posts this month. Instead I spent time updating my first blog post. You can read about the “12 Trustworthy Travel Services and Apps” we use and recommend.
I am also working on improving my site’s visibility. It isn’t easy to get traction for a blog on a saturated topic like travel. Add the fact the travel has been restricted because of the pandemic, and you can understand the challenge.
I am reading William Zinsser’s book On Writing Well. My first takeaway was simplify, simplify, simplify. Just like being a Toastmaster has made me critical of the speech patterns of public speakers, this book threatens to turn me off to many novels and blogs. I’ve already stopped reading some after a few pages because they had too much fluff.
One book I enjoyed was The Island by Victoria Hislop. It is a historical novel set on the Greek island of Crete. The story is about a young woman who travels to a small Cretan town to learn about her mother’s past. She learns about a leper colony on a small island off Crete called Spinalonga and her family’s connection to it.
Spinalonga served as a leper colony from 1903 to 1957. People with leprosy, including children, were sent to the island. They could not have in-person contact with their families. The people who were banished to the island developed a society with shops, entertainment, a school, and a government.
I first heard about Spinalonga and The Island in this post from My Path In The World.
Until Next Time
Wow, I get tired just reading about everything we did in August, and I didn’t even include our hikes. I hope you enjoyed August too. Steve and I would love to hear what you’ve been up to.
Stay safe and healthy,