TRAVEL THERE: TAKING THE WATERS WITH THE HUNGARIANS
Much too soon, IMHO, it was time to leave Castle Hill. Bill (bless his heart), who does most of my photography, was just getting warmed up. On the way up the hill he’d scouted out all sorts of lovely photo opportunities, but suddenly we were late for the bus.
Time for Lunch
Never tell Bill he doesn’t have time for something. He’ll prove you wrong. It was only the first full day of the cruise and I didn’t want to get a reputation for always being the last one back on the bus. “You won’t have anytime for pictures,” I warned him, so he took a whole bunch. Confession: I wanted him to take the pictures and I wanted him to hurry, so I used a little travel psychology on him.
Back down at the bus, we weren’t the very last to board, but almost. Warning: Your bus will leave you if you are late coming back from Castle Hill. Budapest severely limits the number of buses allowed on the hill at any one time. They monitor the comings and going of the buses and only give them a small window of time to actually be on the hill. While an occasional infraction yields only a stiff fine, repeated offenses can bar you from the hill altogether. Therefore, your bus will not pick you up in exactly the same place it let you off, because once you’re off, they’re high-tailing it off the hill. They come back and get you, but don’t linger in the shops getting a souvenir for granny or you might be hoofing it back to the boat. Not that bad of a walk, but you might miss lunch.
Here’s the pictures Bill took on the way back to the bus and down the hill to the ship.
My primary source of information for Budapest was Rick Steves. He firmly convinced me there was no reason to go to Budapest at all, if you didn’t plan to enjoy one of the Thermal Baths and if you only had time for one Thermal bath, then you had to go to the Szechenyi Baths. Viking graciously provides an optional shore excursion which takes passengers to a Thermal Bath, but they keep the information about which Thermal Bath very close to their vest. I could not, for the life of me, find any information about it on any brochure, video or webpage. My travel agent wasn’t able to get anything either and she even called her Viking rep. Seems they don’t publish this information in case they decide they want to change up their thermal bath shore excursion locations. Gee guys, thanks for the anxiety!
I will tell you that Viking took me to the Szechenyi Baths for our Budapest Thermal Bath Excursion, but don’t blame me if you end up at Ruda or Gellert Spas. If you end up at one of those, be angry. Be very angry, because there is only one Szchenyi Bath House and you want to go there.
The Viking Tor primes you for the shore excursion with fluffy towels and robes in stateroom when you come back from the City Tour. They also provide you with a swim cap, because you are not allowed to enter some of the pools without one.
At the spa, you will have access to a changing room and locker. From the changing rooms you’ll go to the baths, all eighteen of them. Why eighteen? Well, some are inside, some are outside. Some are hot, some are cold and others are merely tepid. Some have jets and fountains, some don’t. Some have particular minerals, some have others. Some are for swimming, others are for soaking.
Bill and I spent the lion’s share of our time in two of the three outdoor pools. One of the outdoor pools is strictly for swimming laps and it’s where you’ll need the swim cap. We didn’t go there. We lollygagged in the other two pools with hundreds of our new Hungarian friends. Even if you think this sounds icky, you should give it a try. We loved it! We did check out the indoor pools but much preferred the outdoor experience.
The Szechenyi Baths are a lot of fun, but they are also gorgeous. Once we’d gotten prune-y from all the bathing, we got dressed and Bill started taking pictures. Enjoy! Then come back next week for the Budapest Sail Away. It was spectacular!