While in Budapest, I really wanted to try one of their renowned thermal baths. Szechenyi Bath, a humongous complex of 18 outdoor and indoor pools located behind Heroes’ Square and one of the largest in Europe, sounded way too crowded (even in Nov) and far. So I opted for Gellert Baths (pictured above), part of Hotel Gellert in Buda, cos “you can walk there, just cross the bridge” as my hotel front desk pointedly pointed out when I asked for a metro/tram ticket…
I took up a HUF19600 package which comprised the entrance fee and a 1-hour Harmony Aroma oil massage, and also allowed me to use the thermal and swimming pools, saunas and what have you. Armed with my swim suit and my hotel towel and shower cap (forgot the slippers, grrr) in my backpack, I marched across Liberty Bridge towards Gellert Bath with gusto.
Then began quite an amazing maze one had to get into just to get wet. As I was early for the massage, I thought a dip first will be good. You are first given an electronic elastic watch that is your passcard to get into the hallowed baths and pools, and also the key to your locker. Then you have to walk and climb a number of steps up and down around and behind the central pool before you finally reach the female changing rooms and locker areas two floors up. My fee also covered a cabin so you can change privately and once I got that out of the way, I learnt how to open n lock a locker with a rubber watch. (Security is your responsibility, not theirs.)
Finally, thanks to other users’ directions, I zigzagged my way through the male locker room (a floor down), before coming to that lovely view pictured at the top of the main swimming pool. That’s only 26C but it has lovely colours, fountains and jacuzzi shoots. (Only snag is that you need to wear a shower cap for this pool – they are quite fierce about it.) At one end beside it is one of the thermal pools that is a very lovely 36C. There are other thermal pools and pools in the premises – some segregated for men and for women – but if you don’t want to waste time, these mixed pools are just fine.
If you have a massage appointment, make sure you have time to get out of the pool, get to your locker on the higher floor, take your massage ticket and then come back down, walk down the entire length of the big pool, to get into a screening area where staff will allow you to go out of the “ticketed” area so that you can go to the second floor on the other side of the building – did I mention it was huge? – where the VIP massages are done.
To be fair, all staff try to make things as pleasant as can be. My masseuse was very good and before you know it, I was back for one last dip in the thermal bath and swimming pool (Chinese masseuses always advise against bathing after a massage but then again, you are not here everyday…)
So all in all, a great experience it was. And yes, it made me gave me a spring in my steps as I walked across that Liberty Bridge once again. 🙂