Szechenyi Thermal Baths

2:30:00 AM Unknown 0 Comments

Rick Steves gives the Szechnyi Thermal Baths top marks.  TripAdvisor says this is a must do while in Budapest.  Bob's coworker said, "do not miss the thermal baths,"  so we took all that positive advise and headed to the Thermal pools right after Bob's marathon.

Apparently, Budapest sits ontop of  thermal waters bubbling just below the surface.  The Hungarians have taken advantage of this natural occurrence and public bath houses abound in Budapest.  Rick warned us the entrance procedure was a bit hectic (and it was), but once inside he assured us it would all be worth it!

The Details
Szechenyi Thermal Baths
Address1146 Budapest Állatkerti körút 9-11
Cost: About $20 all day pass with cabin rental (personal dressing room).  Pedicure and massage services extra.
Hours: Outdoor pool 6am-10pm, Steam/Thermal Rooms 6am-7pm, Pump Hall 9am-5pm
Once inside you have a long list of services to choose from.  Eliza and I chose pedicures and all 4 adults signed up for massages.  AWWW, I could already feel myself relaxing!
I mean look at this place!  There are swimming pools for laps, pools for soaking, lounging and playing chess, hot pools, cold pools, sauna's, and steam rooms.  I felt like a Roman and appropriately so...
The domed ceilings, mosaic tiled works of art, the fountains and statues all made this adventure feel very aristocratic.
Then it was time for my pedicure.  I was escorted down a hall and told to sit.  When my pedicurist showed up she lead me into a sterile tiled room that looked way more like a dentist office than a beauty parlor.  I didn't see any rows of nail polish, there were no comfy massage chairs, or foot scrub just a barber's chair, overhead lamp and a small side table with a tray on it.  When she removed the napkin from the tray she revealed what looked like a surgeons kit.  At this point, I am thinking "holy swear word" what have I gotten myself into?"  I counted 14 scalpels of varying sizes.
I suppose my feet were supple enough since I had been soaking in the hot pool, so she went straight to work.   When she picked up the largest knife I had to look away and since she did not speak a word of English we sat in silence.  I was a little more than freaked out.

 You know how when you go to the dentist and the hygienist takes out that pointed tool and scrapes around your teeth until all the plaque is gone, I swear that is what my pedicure was like.  She scraped and picked  until my cuticles were perfect, until my heals were smooth,  until she reached the nerves under my callouses and I squirmed in PAIN.  This was so NOT what I was expecting out of my pedicure.  

Then it dawned on nail polish, no massage chair, no leg scrub, I bet that means they aren't going to give me a pair of disposable flip flops and  I have to walk shoeless through this public bath house in bare, newly scrubbed feet.  DISGUSTING!  I have very few phobias, but going shoeless is torture for me.  I don't ask guests to take off their shoes when they come into my house because I hate the feel of dirt, grit, or sand on the bottom of my feet.  AWWW!  If ever I am going to get a fungus it is at this place.
Then, just like that, the lady told me I was finished and it was time for my massage.  Again, I was escorted into the hall where a young man was waiting for me and he ushered me into my massage chamber.  HE, did you catch me there, HE!  I've had many a massage, I've lain naked on a table for women, but never a man.  I was so preoccupied with my feet touching the bare tile floor that it happened all so fast.  So, there I am standing there in my bathing suit and again I can tell this is not going to be comfortable because I don't see any sheet to hide under.     

He told me to lay down on my stomach then he untied my bathing suit top and started to pull it down.  Freak out moment number two.  Fact is, he has to get to my back and there was nothing fishy or inappropriate, but for a faithful wife of 17 years the act of another man undressing me was so uncomfortable I started to laugh. For the next 20 minutes instead of relaxing and enjoying my massage I worried what  I was going to do when it was time to turn over...and why does he keep inching my bottoms down lower? (Okay, I know why and again, nothing fishy it's just that...). Then about 25 minutes in he started in on my legs and feet and the massage I was expecting from my pedicure came to pass right then and there. It felt fantastic and all of a sudden I wasn't worried any more and I slipped into a happy place.  Next thing I knew the timer went off,  he was pulling my top back up, he tied it for me and that was it.  No turning over and no reason to have worried.
I then went out to the main pool to join my children.  The water was so warm, I loved it.  Then I started noticing couples and one in particular who were grossly enjoying each other right there in the pool.  I was so annoyed.  What is wrong with people?  Then again, I started thinking if ever I was going to get a fungus, disease, cooties or any nasty thing it is going to be here at this highly recommended  thermal spa.  So, I told the kids it was time to go and went to find Bob and his family.  Thankfully, we were all on the same page and called it a day.

Sorry Rick Steves, Trip Advisor and Bob's colleague I can not give the Szechenyi Thermal Baths two thumbs up.