Walking tour and Szechenyi baths

23:00 Paul Robinson 0 Comments

11.30am, 11th April, Cafe California Coffee Company, Oktogon

I haven't travelled to many countries in my life and Hungary is the poorest county I have visited so far. I have been shocked by the poverty that I have seen. There are homeless people on every street and most of the buildings are in a sorry state. The public transport is antiquated and the amount of sex shops and massage parlours are an indication of the level of development within the economy. However in the space of 24 hours, what I initially thought was the worst city on my trip ended up producing the best moments.

I started the day on a walking tour of the city. The original Hungarian people were originally from central Asia, which provided a nice contrast to the history of the Czechs. The Hungarians, like much of the region, have had a difficult history but I found it fascinating and I can't wait to learn some more.

I spoke to a few people on the walking tour and seemed to click with an American girl called Mila. She was quite headstrong and had a passion for travelling. We spent the rest of the day together and didn't once fail to find something to discuss. After the tour we went to the main restaurant area in the city for lunch. The restaurant was okay, with a nice location and serviceable menu. The waiter tried to rip us off with an addition hidden on the menu which we managed to notice. Mila insisted upon an explanation. She was consistently polite but demanded to know why we had been charged more. She didn't give up and really made the waiter sweat. I sat back and watched the entertainment. The waiter tried all the old tricks including "My English is no good" but in the end he gave in and reduced the price, which was an admission of guilt in my eyes.

After that fun we decided ot go to the Szechenyi baths and spa. The building was a little worn out but it was still very popular. Budapest is famous for it's spas and healing waters (apparently). We arrived at about 5.30pm and it was a little chilly until we jumped into the warm waters of the outdoor pool. After the pool we went to the sauna, however stepping back into the cold air was pretty painful and our bathing suit sprint to the door was probably quite amusing. Mila hadn't used a sauna before and didn't like sweating, so she didn't stay around for too long. I'm a bit of a fan of the old sauna, so I did a few cycles of sauna and ice bath. Next up was the pool that was filled with the allegedly healing water. It was cloudy and smelt of eggs. I'm not convinced I'm healed of anything. I just hope the water was meant to be like that.

Afterwards we were supposed to meet up with some of Mila's hostel mates at a famous restaurant called Paprika. They hadn't arrived yet and we couldn't wait to eat. We had a few beers and I went for the Goulash (obviously). It was actually brilliant and we followed it up with some palinka and some pancakes. We must have spent three hours in the restaurant eating and chatting. It was slightly embarrassing when we left because we realised her hostel mates had now arrived and were sat between us and the door. We said hello and made a quick exit.

It was pretty late and Mila was flying to Istanbul at 6am so we called it a night and I walked her to her hostel. We exchanged emails and I hope our paths will cross again. We had the same outlook on life and along with our cultural differences we would always have things to talk about. Just getting out into the world is the best way of meeting people and you don't meet many different types of people by staying at home.

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