It’s the summer again which means only one thing: a new part of the world to learn about and experience. However, our first location was not a new one.
Trailwalker, a monster 100km walk across the South Downs, had left our limbs tight and our minds fragile. We had no rest-bite between our hike and our latest adventure, but in stopping off in Budapest we had accounted for a little R&R.
Both James and I are familiar with the delights of Budapest (this was my third visit in a year) so this was to be a far less strenuous exploration of the city. In fact, we only had one thing in mind: spas. As a consequence, this post is likely to be a short one.
We arrived at our hostel with the best part of the day left and we used that opportunity to join one of the cities free walking tours. I had been on the Jewish tour on a previous visit and will be experiences a lot of Jewishness in Israel, so we decided on the communism tour of the city (where James hoped to gain a quote or two for his history teaching next year).
It was a really interesting tour which put into perspective the drastic changes to people’s lives in Hungary over the last 60 years. The tour guide was clearly quite passionate about the political changes in her country which made for an anecdotal and informative tour. Still, we couldn’t help ourselves to a bit of walking, albeit with a slight blister-rub hobble.
We headed into the Jewish Quarter of the city for some Hungarian food at a restaurant recommended by James. We were unable to resist the wonders of goulash and langos.
Following a swift freshen up we headed back to the Jewish Quarter for a few beers in the ruin bars. Despite our best efforts to make this the birthday night out that James hadn’t had neither of us we able to keep our eyes open after our third pint. Being joined by an overly talkative Hungarian girl with a passion for underwater hockey didn’t really help matters. We strolled back to our hostel and slept for a very long time.
By the time we were up and ready it was already the afternoon. We bought a few rolls, ham and cheese and walked to the great spa by Heroes Square. After eating breakfast / lunch we bathed in the thermal baths for 4 hours. Our skin became saturated but our minds we relaxed and our muscles smiled at us with thanks. It was definitely a peaceful afternoon in warm pools and an apt reward for walking 100km. In fact, the spa was often referred to on our walk for a little bit of motivation to get to the end.
With beaming faces and a new bounce in our step we made our way back to the hostel via a cheap kebab stall. There we made the mistake/ had the pleasure, of having a conversation with a slightly unhinged Frenchman who insisted on calling us ‘Roast Beef’ and that we called him ‘Froggy’. As we were kind enough to talk to him he took it upon himself to share out his bottle of Absolut Vodka. From that point onwards the night picked up.
Our hostel is situated on the first floor. On the ground floor is one of Budapests liveliest bars. For this reason we didn’t have very far to go to continue our party.
It was here that the other reason, and deciding factor for our visit, appeared: Luke Bailey. He had travelled to Budapest in the evening with a couple of his friends and they came to meet us for a few drinks. It was great to see another member of The Melting Pot’s Trailwalker team. With myself and James, Bailer and his friends, and a stray Finnish girl we found, we were able to really enjoy the night safe in the knowledge that our beds were waiting for us just above if, and when, we needed them.
And with a couple of chilled out days in Budapest behind us, the true intention of our travel was about to begin. We boarded our plane for Tel Aviv, Israel. >