Today, a momumental thing happened. I visited my first Hungarian/Turkish bath. It was incredible. My friend, Boda György took me to the Rudas Turkish Bath and gave me the full tutorial. I think I’m hooked. From what I understand, Hungary has the highest concentration of thermal springs in the world. Budapest is called the city of baths and possesses 123 different hot springs. Over the last two thousand years, the Celts, Romans, Turks, and Magyars have all been bathing in these healing waters.
The Rudas Bath is one of the few remaining bath structures from the Turkish occupation. In 1566, the Turks built an octogonal pool, and since then, four other seperate thermal springs supply waters to four seperate baths within the same building.
First, György took me into the dry sauna (75 degrees Celcius! = 167 degrees Fahrenheit!) for 15 minutes. Oh my goodness. By minute number 4 I was sweating pretty good. By minute number 8 I was drenched. By minute number 12 the sweat was literally pouring out of me.
After 15 minutes in the dry sauna, György made me jump into a freezing cold bath. Until this point, I thought he was my friend. Once submerged I could not breathe. The goal was to stay there for one minute. When I stepped out, I could barely walk because the blood had quickly left my legs to support other vital parts of my body.
We sat in a comfortable 28 degree pool and talked for a while. These waters have such an interesting smell. These particular waters are composed of calcium-magnesium-hydrogen-carbonate also containing sodium and sulphate and a significant amount of flouride ions. One of the baths is said to be radio-active. Not completely sure what that means, but it’s supposed to be good for stomach illness.
After this, we went into the wet sauna (50-60 degrees Celcius! = 122-140 degrees F.) and it felt twice as hot as the dry sauna. After 10 minutes of that, we dove in the ice water again and sat in two more healing pools, including the radio-active one. One more time to the wet sauna and then into the big octogonal pool. We dried off and cooled down in the “lounge chair” room for a while.
I felt like I had just run a marathon. Your whole body feels a bit like jelly. Needless to say, it was awesome: a 500 year old building, saunas, icy water, thermal water, and good conversation. If anyone is planning to come visit us in Budapest, they should be prepared! Thanks György!