Széchenyi Thermal Baths and Hungarian Parliament

After a great few days in Vienna, Beth, Jasmine, Millie, Roxy and I hopped on a bus and headed to Budapest for the second half of our Elfie holiday. For me, the highlights of our time in Budapest definitely have to be our afternoon at the Thermal Spa and our tour of the Hungarian Parliament.

We spent the majority of our second full day in Budapest in the Széchenyi Thermal Baths at City Park. The thermal baths, opened in 1913, are home to fifteen indoor baths and three outdoor pools. As it was the end of February when we visited, it was a little bit cold outside. However, one of the three outdoor pools was really hot, around thirty eight degrees, which was a lovely contrast to the outside air temperature. The second warm pool was only a few degrees cooler so both were pleasant compared to the ambient temperature but I definitely preferred the hotter one! It’s recommended that you don’t stay in the very hot pool for more than twenty minutes because of the contrast in air and water temperature with your head being cold out in the air and your body being a much warmer temperature. We were told in Lapland that your head would explode (maybe that’s an exaggeration) if you stayed outside in a hot tub for too long but then we didn’t have a hot tub in Lapland so we couldn’t test that theory! The air temperature in Budapest was obviously a little warmer than in the Arctic Circle so I don’t think it would have been as much of an issue! The hottest pool was without doubt my favourite pool because you had the fresh air from being outside but also kept warm in the water.

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Once you’d spent the recommended time in the luxurious thirty eight degree outside pool you could make your way into the indoor pools which didn’t have the same time restrictions on them because the ambient temperature of the rooms indoors, housing the pools, was obviously much warmer than outside. The buildings were built in a neo-baroque style and are beautifully decorated inside and out. They definitely look a little bit fancier than an English public swimming pool! Inside the buildings are lots of different size, shape and temperature pools as well as saunas, steam rooms and massage rooms. There was another really hot thirty eight degree pool inside but I much preferred the outdoor pool as you could pop up for air if you were feeling too hot. I felt a bit claustrophobic in the really hot indoor pools as the air was also really warm and humid. I could have stayed relaxing in the pools all day but when Jasmine’s fingers began to look like dried out dates we decided it was probably time to leave.

On the final morning, before we flew back to England, Beth and I decided to be extra touristy and got up early to do a tour of parliament as it had been closed to visitors the previous day. The parliament building looks impressive on the outside from across the river but the inside is even more beautiful and so lavishly decorated. Everything inside parliament that looks golden is actually made from real gold, it’s so fancy! I haven’t been inside the British parliament buildings but I’m going to assume that the ceilings aren’t plated in gold! The crown jewels are also stored in parliament, directly under the dome in the centre of the building, in line with the beautifully decorated main entrance of the building. The crown jewels were permanently guarded by two guards who change every hour and salute with their swords every five minutes. During the tour we were also taken inside one of the debate chambers which wasn’t in use that day and the tour guide explained how the rooms were used during debates and how the voting system works. As we had climbed so many stairs to get from the visitor centre to the first floor of the parliament building (all gold plated of course) we had incredible views out over the river of the palace on the opposite side. I’m really glad we made the effort to do the parliament tour as the short hour-long tour fit perfectly into the time we had to spare that morning and it was really interesting.

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