Picture yourself swimming in a tepid pool of liquid joy as snow falls from the sky, relaxing in splendour as the weather packs in around you.
Extremes in temperature are seldom more extreme than this.
The weather is frightfully cold and icy – and yet the water is warm and welcoming, luxurious even. You leave the water only to sprint to the next hot pool, teeth chattering and body shivering only until you plunge into more of that liquid joy.
Old men play chess all day as their bodies shrivel up even more than usual. Children laugh and play while their parents lazily look on, content in the fact that they won’t be going far – it’s too cold out to be anywhere else.
Tourists, meanwhile, sit in awe of the splendour and beauty of these medicinal baths, the largest of their kind in Europe with 15 indoor baths and three grand outdoor ones.
Built in 1913, Budapest’s Szechenyi Baths are supplied with water by two naturally occurring thermal springs. The temperature of the indoor and outdoor pools ranges from approximately 27°C (80°F) to a very warm 38°C (100°F).
They say the water is great for easing aches and pains but what it’s really great for is whittling away an afternoon.
Budapest isn’t dubbed “the city of spas” for nothing, with no less than half a dozen hot pool, spa and hot tub complexes around the city.
The most famous and impressive complex of the lot, though, is undoubtedly the Szechenyi Baths in City Park, where entry starts at 3,050 Hungarian forint ($14US) for a week-day afternoon.
Most travellers are unlikely to visit the capital of Hungary in summer – so chances are the weather will be ideal for relaxing in a hot bath. Remember to bring your own towel, although you can rent one on the premises. You can also hire a safe lock-box on site.
The Szechenyi Baths are a top attraction in one of Europe’s most interesting cities for travellers. Let us know what you thought of the baths in the comments section below…