Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Waterbabying in Buda

I almost got to waterbaby in Pest as well but got a bit sidetracked by a Christmas market and a big glass of mulled wine.

Yes, I have decided that waterbaby can be a verb.

I waterbaby
You waterbaby
He/She waterbabies
We waterbaby, etc.

Verbs generally denote action of course, and setting out to explore the therapeutic value of thermal baths in Hungary's largest city, in winter, requires effort being made: physically and intellectually if not linguistically.

As everyone's favourite information source, Wikipedia, indicates: "A thermal bath is a warm body of water. It is often referred to as a spa, which is traditionally used to mean a place where the water is believed to have special health-giving properties." The therapy part comes from spending time in thermal baths as part of one's regular medical and wellness practice, and doctors in Hungary often prescribe spa water treatments to their patients, young and old.

Budapest is not the only place in Hungary with thermal baths, but there are a lot of them dotted along the Danube dividing Buda and Pest. Most of these are along the Buda shore, which makes sense as the limestone rises up in hills and benchs, so that layers of hot mineral waters lie in layers of rock. The friends, Romans and countrymen settled in the area in part because of these hot springs, and there are still ruins from this period to be found here.

The new era was not so new to us, but some of the baths that were built during this time are incredibly still in use despite their centuries, when the Ottoman Empire stretched up this far north.  Their 16th century oval roofs and octagonal pools are striking and recognizable to anyone who has spent time in Turkey. The next great era of thermal baths was the late 19th century, with grand palace-like halls over and around enormous pools, indoors and outdoors, for the hordes.

For me, it was an opportunity to: a) explore a key part of Hungary's cultural practice; b) get warm in a frosty cold Budapest in winter; and c) see whether or not there was anything in the claims of medicinal value placed on the waters for degenerative bone conditions and chronic joint inflammations, among other things.  My curvy little spine was in for a treat!

4 days: 1 spa a day; among several to choose from.

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