Budapest Thermal Baths; Szechenyi Baths

by Lisa Overman
( March 27th, 2013 )

Budapest, A City of Thermal Baths
Since moving to Budapest I’ve wanted to visit the thermal baths. My new city is known as the thermal bath capital of Europe. Over the long winter I was able to spend a Sunday at Szechenyi Baths. Szechenyi is one of several public bath complexes found in Budapest. It is also one of the largest thermal baths found in Europe.

Endless Choices
The place seems endless as you walk through and explore it. On my visit I counted 15 indoor pools and three outdoor pools. There were also numerous steam and sauna facilities as well as therapists offering massage treatments. Massages started at just over $13 US for a twenty minute aroma therapy massage. I plan to explore that option on another visit.

Szechenyi Baths 001bb

Thermal Healing Waters
The outdoor thermal pools vary in temperature. The hottest outdoor pool was around 38 degrees celcius, or 100 degrees. In the winter temperatures, it felt amazing for quite a while. Within this pool is an area where the water streams from a fountain. The entire experience of enjoying the bath in the freezing temperatures felt amazing, and the steamy conditions set a relaxing mood.

When I reached a point of being too hot, I moved on to a cooler pool, which was around 28 degrees celcius or 82 degrees. This pool offered the additional pleasure of a whirlpool that pushed you around a circular ramp, it was both relaxing and fun! It also offered whirlpool vents that periodically released a surge of bubbles from beneath your feet.

Thermal Baths and Beautiful Architecture
One of my favorite parts of Szechenyi Baths is the beautiful Baroque architecture and the statues found around and in the outdoor pools. I was able to take a few photos on my visit, but the combinations of freezing temperatures (32 degrees) and wearing a bathing suit and flip flops made for quick photo opportunities. On a warmer day I will take more pictures of the Basoque architecture.

Szechenyi Baths 002bb

Pros and Cons of Szechenyi Baths
There are some great features within Szechenyi Baths, but there are also down sides about the baths.
Pros
First there are three entrances; and the entire bath complex is interconnected. If you’re like me and you want a bit of privacy and a changing cabin then you need to enter from the rear entrance on Állatkerti körút. This section of the baths has private changing cabins.

Second, the outdoor pools and architecture are fantastic and worth a visit. The outdoor pool area also offers a bar area where you can get hot and cold drinks. No drinks are sold inside the baths, only at the pool bar area. On my visit they offered hot mulled wine, beer, fresh squeezed orange juice and a variety of water and sodas. (Downside) you can’t drink your drinks in the pools. You have to either stand or sit outside in freezing temperatures to drink them, or carry them inside to the indoor seating areas surrounding one of the pools, which is what I did.

Third, the changing cabins are nice and worth the extra dollar or two. They have two doors and a sauna like bench seat slides down into place to lock each door. (Once you figure it out, (a picture is provided) it’s pretty cool.

Fourth, stay as the stars come out, the view of the stars and moon from the outdoor pools make it worth the time.

Cons
First, figuring out how everything works with few signs in English takes a little bit of time. The public changing area in my section was also the entrance to the area, so there were both men and women walking through. If you needed privacy you would have had to move upstairs within the changing area (which was easy to do.)

Second, The indoor showers and bathrooms are ancient and hardly acceptable. They seriously detract from the great experience.

Third, the indoor pool complex has a couple beautiful pools, but the rest are basic and nothing special to look at. Their great feature is the variety of temperatures offered from hot jacuzzi like to almost cold. Each pool is labeled with its temperature in celcius degrees.

Fourth, It’s probably best, considering the options to bring your own large bottle of water. I noticed many local Hungarians carrying around their own bottles.

Prices and Hours
The baths are open daily from 6 am to 10 pm, holidays have a special schedule. Szechenyi Baths offer two price choices. If you want only a locker and are willing to change in a public locker room (which appeared to be co-ed) the cost is 4,100 ($17 US) during the week and 4,300 ($18 US) on weekends.

If you would like a bit of privacy with a changing cabin prices are 4,300 ($18 US) during the week and 4,800 ($20) on the weekend. A wrist band that unlocks and locks your locker is provided when you enter and you must wear it while you are in the baths. When you depart you drop it into a bin as you exit.

Getting to Szechenyi Baths
The bath complex is located in the city park and can be reached by taking the Metro to the Szechenyi furdo Metro stop and walking a short distance.

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Hofburg Wein; A View into History and Court Life

by Lisa Overman
( January 21st, 2013 )

A View into Court Life

Vienna

Vienna
Recently I had the opportunity to spend a little time in Vienna. It was my first visit and I already long to return. The beauty, architecture and history of the city left me grabbing my camera at every corner. I spent my visit in awe of the city. It charms you with it cobbled streets and architectural design. I’ve been to some amazing cities in Europe and this one is now holding strong against Rome, my personal favorite.

Hofburg Wein, Austria
A view of the Hofburg Wein.

The city offers a glimpse back in time. My visit to the Hofburg Wein in the city center was a true favorite. This palace complex was home to the Habsburgs, who ruled for six centuries. Within the Hofburg today are museums and the imperial apartments that can be toured. In addition the Hofburg Wein is the seat of government for today’s Democratic Republic of Austria. The Palace contains the President’s office as well as others including the Secretaries of State.

Hofburg Art, Architecture

Hofburg

Roman Statue
A Roman Statue at the Hofburg Wein.

The Hofburg Wein is extensive and can’t be seen in a single day. There are guided tours as well as audio tours to guide visitors through the complex. There are specialized tours for those wishing for more insight into the Habsburgs. There are also galleries, a silver collection, and special evening tours of the Imperial apartments. In addition there is a Viennese Cafe on the grounds, which can be found in the interior courtyard. The Hofburg Wein is open daily and admission for visitors is as follows;

Adults Audio Tour $10.50 Euro
Adults Tour with Guide $13.00 Euro
Children 6-18 $6.50 Euro (Audio Tour) $7.50 Euro (Guided Tour)
Family Ticket (Two adults and three children $49 Euro.)

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House Hunting Budapest

by Lisa Overman
( January 8th, 2013 )

Finding a Home in Budapest
When I moved to Budapest finding a home was top on my list of things to do. I saw many houses, and there were a few that came out on top as my favorites. One in particular for it’s spacious living room with wrap around windows. Another for it’s newness and in home sauna.

In the end my home selection was complicated by a few factors. A landlord that didn’t want to negotiate price, (the home with the wrap around windows). The new (in construction) house with a sauna meant having workmen in my house finishing construction for at least three weeks. It was too much to take on with my dog who was adjusting to a new home and country. I opted out of that one, though it was a real favorite.

I have selected photos that I felt gave a taste of what Budapest offers. There are amazing homes here. Houses that offer great features, including dishwashers, washer dryers, big yards, open floor plans, fireplaces, and pet friendly places…the list goes on. All pretty exceptional for a country in Eastern Europe.house hunting budapest

A historic cobbled street that offered a great view.

modern spaces, house hunting

This home offered modern space.

spacious kitchen, house hunting

This house offered a spacious kitchen, but a very small yard.

spacious entrance

This apartment offered a spacious and attractive entrance.

open floor plan, house hunting

This one offered a great open space, but a strange layout that I felt wouldn’t suit life with a dog.

private courtyard patio, budapest

This private courtyard patio was exceptional. I fell in love with it. Sadly the rest of the house, not so much.

new construction home in Budapest

I fell in love with this under construction house. It had several bedrooms, a sauna, a nice yard, great windows and a good location. It was in my final two.

open floor plan home, budapest

This house was my initial first choice. It offered a good location, a decent size yard, great open spaces, a beautiful open living area, air conditioning, a beautiful bathroom but only a mediocre kitchen. The landlord wouldn’t reduce the price, even though it had been on the market for a while.

This is actually a city that offers potential home renters some excellent choices. Yes, okay there were a few duds thrown in and one that was freaky and a little scary. But overall house hunting in Budapest turned out to be a good experience. I have opted for privacy sake not to show photos of my actual home, my home remains my private space.

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