A foggy but full day today near Hösök tere. The picture above is the view from the entrance to Széchenyi Fürdo, the public thermal baths in City Park — it’s the Big Circus! The show was just letting out as we left the baths, but no complaints about choosing the baths over the big top — two spectacular outdoor baths with steam hovering over the waters to give it a real ’70s rock concert feel, and about a dozen indoor thermal baths of varying temperatures and mineral content as well. We sampled them all and wandered contentedly home.
Before the baths, we made our pilgrimage to Gundel Etterem, one of the oldest and most popular restaurants in Budapest, for their Sunday brunch after church this morning. The atmosphere is very pleasant and the food is excellent, but we had a bit of an unwelcome surprise when the bill came and we were charged for water at 1800 Ft (over US$8) per 0.75 liter bottle. (To put it into perspective, you can buy liters of water for 70-80 Ft at almost any respectable grocery store, so the markup on these was in the vicinity of 3000%. To put THAT in perspective, the typical markup on a good bottle of wine in an upscale restaurant is more in the 200-300% range.)
Chalk it up as one of those cultural collisions that happens from time to time, and any future soakings in the area will be confined to Széchenyi Fürdo.