I’ve left Budapest yesterday to explore a bit more of Hungary. I’ve stopped briefly by Balaton Lake, the largest body of water in central Europe and a prime tourist destination. There are great views across the blue water and I’ve spent most of the day trying to get away from the populated areas, with limited success! I’ll post some photographic highlights tomorrow, but here’s a quick sample:
There’s a couple of things I didn’t get the chance to mention about Budapest whilst I was there, since all that sight seeing and pub crawling didn’t leave much time for blogging!
I couldn’t well leave Budapest without trying out one of the famous thermal baths. Hungarians have adopted this remnant of Turkish influence and made it their own, with many elegant bath-houses established in the city. I opted to visit Széchenyi, not the most famous of all the spas, but one I had seen many photos of, including from fellow WordPress bloggers. I was a little nervous approaching the baths as I had heard the booking procedure and bathing process was complicated. I needn’t have worried: a simple entry ticket was all I needed, and it was a trivial matter to navigate the complex and get to the bathing areas.
The outdoor pool area is the reason I came to Széchenyi baths: the bold yellow walls and spired cupolas are alone worth the visit; lazing in the naturally heated water while spots of rain fall from the gathering clouds will be one of the highlights of my trip. I bumped into my new American friends here for the last time, having travelled with them since Český Krumlov. Hope you enjoyed your trip guys!
After getting my fill of the thermal baths, pools, and saunas I explored the City Park, in which the spa is located. The rain had stopped and the sun was starting to peek through the clouds, a perfect epilogue to a chilled out day. I did a double-take when I bumped into a familiar face:
It’s Winston Churchill! I’ve become used to seeing statues of local heroes on this trip so it was surprising to see a compatriot of mine honoured. The City Park is full of monuments to international figures: round the corner is Ronald Reagan! Don’t feel that the Hungarians are all about the foreigners though, as the magnificent entrance to the park is Heroes’ Square, a monument to important people and tribes who helped build Hungary’s history. The centrepiece is a memorial to all those who died in the struggles to bring about independence from the Austrian empire.
Travelling through this part of the world has been interesting historically, because in effect I’ve been walking on the graves of recently deceased countries. I’ve already passed through former Czechoslovakia and Austria-Hungary, and tomorrow I’ll be on my way to what used to be Yugoslavia! Let’s hope I don’t wake the dead…