We had a 3 hour drive from Vienna to Budapest and then got checked into our Airbnb apartment. Since we had a short first day in Budapest, we decided to grab a late lunch sitting outside near the Vajdahunyad Castle/Hero’s square before heading to the Szechenyi Baths. We walked through Hero’s Square on the way to City Park, where the castle and the baths are located. The monuments there really do make you feel tiny! Despite its appearance, Vajdahunyad Castle was built in 1896, and was in fact built to showcase the architectural evolution through centuries and styles in Hungary. It combines some of the finest buildings in the historical Hungary into a single eclectic palace featuring styles from the Middle Ages to the 18th century: Romanesque, Gothic Renaissance, Baroque buildings, from the Romanesque church of the village Jak to the Baroque palace of Prince Paul Esterhazy I. In addition to tours, it is used for festivals, exhibitions, etc and unfortunately it was closed for a special event when we were in town; so we had to settle for seeing it from the outside.
We headed into the park and had lunch sitting outside by the river, which was very relaxing, until we realized our waiter had deserted us and it took 45 min to get our bill (though we are pretty used to European customer service at this point). We weren’t sure if we would pay to go in and use the Szechenyi Baths, but I’m so glad we did. When we travel we always try to see as much as possible, but it was nice to take an afternoon to relax at the pool.. with the added bonus that people watching here is pretty high on any tourists list of things to do. I enjoyed the outdoor pools the most – enjoying the warm (or I guess I should say hot) sunshine that I miss living in northern Germany- but Morgan and Mathias enjoyed testing out some of the indoor cold pools. It was a perfect pool day so it was pretty crowded and we even got to see the locals who go there to play chess. Szechenyi is the largest medicinal bath in Europe (15 indoor pools and 3 large outdoor). Its water is supplied by two thermal springs; their temperatures range between 165 °F and 171 °F (so pretty hot!).
Morgan and I were feeling fugal so we passed on getting massages and walked around the park a little while Mathias indulged. But we did get to try out some corn on the cob and a huge pretzel from the guy in the park that was pretty delicious. Our final stop of the night was Menza, which was about half way between the Park and our apartment – plus had a great atmosphere/surroundings.