We took a train for about five hours from Oradea, Romania to Budapest, Hungary. We had nice first class seats on a very comfortable train with giant windows and plush seats, however there was a small problem with tickets. We hadn’t printed tickets and the station would not accept our reservation number, even when we showed then the confirmation screen on our laptop, so we had to pay again, and pay a penalty as well. It was confusing and it happened when we were crossing into Hungary, though the visa-free border crossing was smooth. Aside from that, we enjoyed looking out the window at enormous fields of sunflowers and chatting with some vacationing Americans onboard. The Budapest train station was nice.
We stayed on the Pest side in an apartment complex with a large open-air courtyard. The city was full of classic architecture with lovely details, cafes, small shops, and many flowers in the parks. We walked around a lot and admired it all.
It turns out that Budapest is renown for thermal baths from natural hot springs. It is considered part of healthcare here to soak in the waters and get different treatments- doctors prescribe them, baths are affordable, and there are accommodations for those with wheelchairs and mobility issues. Of course, many people go just for fun and gossip and to take advantage of the restaurants and bars in the baths as well. There are many baths, plenty with long histories, with all sorts of treatments and indoor and outdoor pools. We walked across the Elizabeth Bridge had a wonderful time in the Rudas Baths, on the Buda side of the Danube (yellow building behind Truly in photo below). Rudas goes back to the 16th century when Turks occupied the area and it is thriving today. We spent over four hours lounging on the rooftop pool with a panoramic view of the Danube, the Pest side, and also of the rock faces on the Buda side; sweating in the five saunas and the steam room; breathing the therapeutic ionized air of the salt evaporation room; plunging in the cold pools; reveling in the computerized three-stage shower; and swimming in the pools of different temperatures.
There happened to be biplanes rehearsing for a show the next day, so we were treated to a display of barrel rolls, loop-de-loops, and planes going closely over and even under – with very little room above the water- the historic Chain Bridge. We saw these from the baths and also as we were coming back across the Elizabeth Bridge (above). We had a spectacular view of the biplanes and their antics.
We went one day to the Hungarian National Museum, a nice mid-1800’s building with modern exhibits. The collection of carved stonework from Roman times was impressive, and the prehistoric section (usually my favorite part) was also very good. DH loved the war-related exhibits. I didn’t take any photos, partly because it was not allowed or there was a fee; I’m not sure. The exhibits struck me as more modern than other museums which we’d visited lately, but still not electronic which I appreciate. We also liked the gypsy-style wooden wagons parked put behind the museum. Walking around the immediate neighborhood, we enjoyed the shops with antique books and the many cafes. There was so much more to see on both sides of the Danube River, but we were headed to our next destination, and the 17th country of our trip!