Wednesday, October 23, 2013

See and make others see

Remember how I said Oct. 23 is a national holiday in Hungary?

Do you know what happens on national holidays? Everything shuts down. Why I didn't put this together yesterday is probably in the same place as wherever I lost my sunglasses in Amsterdam. 

Anyway, I don't put together how shut down the city is until about 20 minutes of walking past closed doors. And I'm talking grocery stores and caf├ęs. Everything is closed. 

Well, not everything. The Hungarian National Museum, of all places, is not only open but is free today. Additionally, this little cafe across the street from the museum was open. I'm hijacking their hot chocolate recipe. As far as I could tell they melted chocolate, whipped it and put it in a mug. Good stuff. 

Today, in addition to the museum, what may have been a political rally but was taking too long to get going and St. Stephen's Basilica (which has a chapel for the Holy Right Hand. That's literal, in case you were wondering.), I went to a thermal bath. Budapest has about as many thermal baths as I've seen castles on this trip. (These are Hungarian baths, not German, so no nudity.) In the Gellert baths, which I think are the biggest, there are half a dozen or so hot tubs, a couple swimming tools, a sauna, a steam room and a bidet. I spent three hours wandering from tub to tub to sauna to tub, including several forced entries into a very cold pool, which induced the most marvelous tingling feeling in my legs when I got back into the warm water. 

I also discovered I'm a shameless copycat. People talking about different baths? I follow them. A woman laying across the fountain where the hottest water is? I look goofy, but who cares? Overhear discussion of the sauna? Don't mind if I do. It was a very relaxing evening. The only stressful thing was avoiding direct lines of sight toward the multiple amorous couples. 

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the fried stuff with cheese, I found langos. I actually found it a couple of times but was too busy snacking on marzipan to get it the second time. Maybe I'll see it again in Pecs. Because yes, it was that good. 

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