Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thermal Bath 1: Rudas

Day 1 of 4: Rudas Thermal Bath
Under Gellert Hill lies the Rudas thermal bath, first built in 1550, during the time of the Turkish occupation. This old part has an octagonal pool under a traditional dome.

At the end of the 19th century, a therapeutic swimming facility and a sauna was added. There is also a newer 'wellness section', with a pool fed by the water spring Juventus, a cold water immersion pool, an outdoor rooftop pool and a hot water pool.
the spread of Rudas bath,
with the rooftop pool on the left
and the original Turkish pool roof on the right

small rooftop pool under the dome

Now let's get one thing straight. Neither I nor my spine do cold water plunge pools (i.e., anything under 20 degrees C) so just cross that off your list of expectations.  I can be persuaded to sit in an outdoor pool, but not in the dark of a winter day on the roof of a riverside building.

The waters have been touted as "slightly radioactive" and I refuse to inquire further as to what exactly that means. Its minerals include sulphate, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate and fluoride ion, and this is apparently good for vertebral disks, lack on calcium in the bones and the usual joint challenges.  Bring it, Rudas.

First is negotiating the costs and mechanics of taking the waters. It's possible to rent a bath sheet, which is really a single bed sheet. One is required to wear a bathing cap, men too! and it's not a bad idea to have flip flops. When you pay, you receive a plastic wrist apparatus, which looks like a child's play watch with no water face. This is to be held next to an entrance gate, where a light turns from red to green to let you through. It also activates the lock on a locker in the co-ed change room, which has little closets for changing modestly.

the old changing cabins
Then along and up stairs to a lovely swimming pool, but I was not here to swim. I carried on to the wellness centre, a modern room, with two big pools of the same temperature for some reason, spontaneous jets and spouts, and soft lighting. At one end was the cold plunge pool and a skoocum hot pool. Clean, roomy, bright. Windows look out onto the street which had the added bonus of appearing a big smug to the wrapped up commuters on the bus as it stopped at the red light.  A restaurant and rooftop pool were up a spiral stairway, perhaps a stairway to Heaven but I was not ready to make that journey yet.

A delightful experience all in all, although the strangest thing happened once dressed. It must be the particular mix of minerals in the baths that caused it. My right big toe, which had been broken when I was about 12 years old, was painful right along the break line for quite a while afterwards.  I wonder if others who have suffered breaks in places that are possible to heal properly have felt the same line of pain.  I may have to investigate further.

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