BUDAPEST - NORDIC LIFE , WARM HEART AND BATH
BUDAPEST - NORDIC LIFE, WARM HEART AND BATH
Having woken up at dawn, we hurried up to have breakfast and went to the airport because our Wizz Air departure time was very convenient this time.
Having woken up at dawn, we hurried up to have breakfast and went to the airport because our Wizz Air departure time was very convenient this time , around 10:40 a.m. It’s nice when you have the opportunity to have a sleep at night and fly with a clear eye looking in the illuminator on the mountains, clouds and forests, feeling as if you were God and observing small miserable cars crawling somewhere below like ants . According to the forecast, the weather in Hungary was not the coldest, about 9*C above zero. So we dressed up in light jackets, took two small backpacks allowed in the cheapest ticket option, and hit the road. In duty free, I bought two cans of Jack Daniels lemonade with 5% alcohol content, and we safely took off and flew to Budapest airport named after the great composer Liszt ! In just three hours, we were greeted by fresh free wind bursting from the open door of a landing Boeing . The airport assistants worked perfectly, two guys in yellow jackets and red pants helped me to get into the ambulift (a special car with a lift fitted directly to the side of the plane). I made a compliment to their fashionable uniform, and a cheerful guy speaking either Italian or Czech in their remix, suddenly unbuttoned his yellow jacket with a laugh and said "Christmas time" in good English ! The guy wore a red work shirt under the jacket. So its shape really resembled the clothes of Santa Claus. This was the first friendly guy on our trip to Hungary. The customs officers and other staff were a little gloomy, but efficient. Having received the luggage, we went to WC and headed to the exit from the arrivals hall .
I turned on my phone, dialled the Serbian number and hung up immediately. This was a signal. That’s how we agreed with Chaba, my online friend who came to meet us from Serbia. An incredible desperate brave man and traveler, on his four wheels, this guy visited Shanghai, Jerusalem, Cuba and a lot of other places seeing neither barriers nor borders. He spent very little money by flying low-costs in the off-season. For example, he bought a return ticket from Budapest to Eilat for 30 euros, but when he found himself in a winter resort in winter, he was not afraid of a veil of cold tropical rain and storm, and rushed to Jerusalem for a day on an inaccessible high-floor bus on which he climbed on his hands . Having reached Jerusalem in his wheelchair again in cold rain and fierce February wind, through steep mountains, he reached the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and then spent the night in the Arabian hostel without amenities and facilities in the Eastern Jerusalem. He got cold and barely crawled to his bed, he does not remember how he returned to Eilat and flew home, but he did it. Such a man, simple, without barriers and very strong.
He was waiting for us not far from the airport since you can stop at the departure hall for only up to 5 minutes. Just a few minutes later, our friend showed up from behind the corner on his new Suzuki X Cross, a compact SUV! He has a decent pension, but he managed to buy a car by reselling used electric wheelchairs and various mobility devices from Austria on eBay . Once I became one of his clients , however, I never took advantage of my purchase which soon failed due to the discharge of the batteries. Chaba arrived with the accuracy of a Swiss watch. Having put a baseball cap with Russian coat of arms on his head, we got into his car and set off to Budapest! The road was long , about 40 minutes; the outskirts of Budapest reminded me a grey dull landscape of Moscow suburbs, but in an even more post-apocalyptic version. It was clear that the past had gone away and a more incomprehensible uncertainty came together with the freedom from the communist regime because the European Union did not finance the Hungarians enough. Everywhere you could feel a former power, wide, but neglected roads , abandoned industrial wastelands, the roar of trains and powerful diesel locomotives. The closer we got to the center, the better was the view outside the window. Desolation was replaced by tiled roofs and manicured houses, and dull Khrushchevs were replaced by the old buildings of Pest! Yes , yes, Pest, since the city consists of two parts (cities) Buddha and Pest, once united by a bridge by a count named Sechenyi.
One not very happy day, the count's father was dying, but due to the spring coming and the ice breaking, Sechenyi was unable to cross the river, he had to wait a whole week. The count was so furious that he vowed to build a bridge across a wide river and went to England to hire the best engineers who built the crossings on the Thames. In such a way a great bridge with two lions was built in Budapest. Like in African jungles , the majestic lions are ready to pounce and protect the bridge! Meantime, we were approaching our hotel through the streets with ancient buildings so typical for European capitals . Our three star budget hotel called Roombach
was located in the historical center (an excellent location). Prim clerks met us at the reception . This time my wife and I decided to save money and I didn't check everything to the end . Rather, with the help of my hotel provider, I found out that the hotel has an accessible entrance and one accessible room for people with disabilities. But for some reason the room was single, with a narrow bed and an accessible shower. I didn't get the point, maybe this is one of the remnants of the communist regime). Then I asked if the bathroom door was wide enough and they answered "yes ", but there was a small door in the shower. I thought I would somehow overcome the threshold, but I did not take into account one important factor, the door to the shower itself was extremely narrow, and while I could manage the threshold, I could do nothing with the width of the door. It doesn’t matter, we decided to ask for a double bed in a single-bed room. But an unfriendly red-haired employee, demonstrating his contempt like a peacock during a mating match, refused to change beds and did not even let take pictures of the room for you, my friends. Well , it’s not his fault, however, this hotel can be chosen only if you travel alone or with your friends who need several rooms, and you can live separately . In general, we have a long list of verified, accessible hotels.
So , then, having left the car in a free internal parking lot, we proceeded to the nearest famous Spieler Bar ,
which is translated from German as “Player”. Remember? Ramstein has such a song "Spiele mit mir" . "Play with me" ) Inspired ... we came early, so the tables were empty , the huge hall and the informal atmosphere encouraged us, and we ordered some beer, Chaba ordered the traditional Goulash soup
(for them it’s like borsch for us) and non-alcoholic beer as I was driving , I had a local traditional pork sausage with mustard, and Talia had a chicken with dumplings! Everything was delicious, our beer cheered us up , gradually the room around us became filled with visitors and we drank another glass of wine, took pictures in a romantic photo cabin, said goodbye to legandar Chaba, and went to bed in the hotel, as the next day the bathhouse and the Sechenyi bathing complex were waiting for us.
The second day and the biggest in Europe bathing complex !
If you have ever read or visited the excavations of Roman baths, and you can imagine the scale of these buildings, then here, in the Bathing Complex of Sechenyi you will be even more surprised. Take a look at the photo above! What do you think it is? Temple? King's palace? No! This is a temple to the cult of health and cleanliness next to which a more than 1200 meters deep well was drilled more than a century ago, raising to the surface a stream of famous healing water with a temperature of 75*C ! The high arches of the ancient premises are erected on a total area of more than 6220 square meters.
This largest European thermal complex is really impressive ! Some fantastic stories about antiquity are becoming real here. You feel like a Roman patrician in ancient Rome and is already waiting for lovely odalisques to dance in front of the fountain). This is, I would say, thevMuseum of Baths and Pools, the Hermitage of Health and Cleanliness! There is an elevator at the entrance with antique steps , but it doesn’t work. Fortunately, when a friendly staff see someone who needs help, they, including the director, are always ready to help and suggest you come in from the building’s end. When you come in, you find yourself in an incredibly beautiful park, in the waiting room resembling a museum, and after going through the cashier with a voucher from the tour company (you can buy a ticket from us), you get into a row of private changing rooms (provided if pre-booked) . One room is enough for several people, there is also an accessible changing room, it's large and comfortable, but without handrails, a photo is attached.
Then, together with an accompanying girl, we went to have a massage that was also included in the admission ticket price (20 minutes) . The door to the massage room was wide enough and the massage table could be lowered and raised, it is convenient to change seats.
Later we went to the baths. They are numerous and various, from aromatic saunas to inhalation ones. So you come in a pleasant twilight and backlight, in the middle, you can see a kind of a stove with a huge baking sheet on it with mint seeds and dried leaves, you feel as if you're in a huge and cozy inhalation machine. There is even a sauna with musical accompaniment, incredibly relaxing music in the style of Enigma or Era pours from above !
The pools are not very accessible , there are no hydraulic lifts, well, there is one, but it is not working. If you can transfer to a plastic stool or a pool side and from there descend into the water, you'll have no problems. The beads are usually not high, up to 15 - 20 centimeters.
We spent all the day in this temple of water pleasures , I washed in an accessible shower, and we went to look where and what to eat because we were terribly hungry despite the sandwiches we prudently seized at breakfast in the hotel. (A kind of a life hack - just wrap a hotel breakfast sausage, bread and cheese in a napkin and you'll be full all the day :-))
So , more about cafes and food in Budapest! Many cafes and restaurants within the old city, as well as in many other cities with ancient architecture, are not very accessible , rather say, one to three) There are a lot of bars in the basements with steps down, but in general, you can always find a way out, there are accessible places and there's no need to search long.
That evening, as if by magic, we wandered into the Indian restaurant “Taj M Ahal” located in a ten minute walk from the Sechenyi complex. The entrance was smooth and accessible, and the atmosphere was magical. Well, my wife and I would never have thought that when we flew to Budapest we would find ourselves in an Indian restaurant) We were met by the girls in national costumes Sari, and for dinner we were served a traditional Indian chicken Kari and an onion salad with local Hungarian wine. It was nothing but a miracle! In spite of an inaccessible toilet, we were truly happy that we managed to escape from the world of fuss for a short time . After all, this is what tourism is all about, escapism, a change of scenery, a kind of meditation giving a new, expanded outlook on life, learning a new culture.
In such a way our second day in Budapest came to an end. This time, we decided not to run from point A to point B with great speed, but simply to slowly enjoy the moment.
Tourist sightseeing Hop on Hop off bus Having bought in advance a twenty-four-hour ticket for an accessible sightseeing hop on hop off double-decker from Big Bus (you can buy it from us all over the world), we found the nearest stop in the morning and hit the road. (I’ll immediately note that the bus is fully adapted for people with unlimited abilities: it has a folding ramp, a special space with convenient handrails, and the headphones that can be controlled at the level of a seated person) , a conductor assistant will give you headphones that you can take with you as a small souvenir. An audio guide accompanying you synchronously throughout the trip is presented in 21 languages including Russian. Very comfortable and budget . There is no need to take an expensive private excursion when for small money you can have an excellent excursion accompanied by classical and music during breaks. Driving from one stop to another, you listen to the guide in your headphones and you can go for a walk, take a breath, and taste the local cuisine. Depending on which ticket you bought, you can travel either 24, 48 or 72 hours, or you can buy a night tour. It seems to me buying a 24-hour ticket is enough to quickly get acquainted with the city.
So we rode until almost 5 p.m. The last day bus leaves at 16:45.
We had a lot of fun. In one day we saw the famous and huge Parliament, the Royal Castle, amazing in its size and magnificence, we visited both parts of Buddha and Pest !
In the evening, we had dinner with a goulash with hot paprika (paprika and coffee were brought to Hungary during the conquest of the Turks) . Everything here is a little spicy and with paprika, sausage, paprikash, and other staff, everything is very tasty and quite cheap!
Jewish ghetto and synagogue
After returning home, we were hungry again, so we went in search of a cafe with some delicious food ) My wife loves atmospheric, authentic places, and sometimes we can spend hours wandering through the ancient streets and looking for something interesting.
Fortunately, Budapest is very even with practically no pavements. You can wheel without getting tired.
This time we went to look for the Great Budapest Synagogue and moved far away from our hotel. Along the way, asking passers-by where it is, we got lost, people showed us the way with gestures, they said, "here it is, in some hundred meters away". But the Synagogue was hiding from us like a metaphorical, mysterious creature) Disappointed in our searches, we decided to return back to the hotel. Disappointed and hungry we were approaching our hotel from the other side, when suddenly, in some hundred meters from it we saw the legendary Great Synagogue. Here it is, a beauty in the Moorish style, the largest in Europe, in the Oriental style, very reminiscent of minarets, designed to remind of the Middle Eastern roots of believers. The temple was built at the end of the 19th century, and during the war, it was badly damaged but was restored again.
I won't go into details of the story, but as it turned out, our hotel was only a hundred meters from this grand building, and we were looking for it, wandering around the city. Here is a coincidence !! - we thought. A couple of steps from the synagogue, we found a cozy , unpretentious restaurant called Ghetto Gulyash,
and realized that we were in the heart of the Jewish ghetto built during the Great Patriotic War, where the Nazis brought about 220 thousand Jews to settle.
Goosebumps. A chill struck my skin: we really booked the hotel without knowing that it is located right in a place where prisoners once languished while waiting for their fate.
The food in the quiet restaurant turned out to be extremely elegant and tasty, and the atmosphere, after all, we learned, was sparkled by some quiet tenderness or sadness. The food is delicious here, but why is the name of the restaurant Ghetto Goulash?
The candlelight and the girl sitting at the table opposite us in red, as if in a military beret, reminded us of those distant military days, as if a temporary portal between the past and the future opened. We were transported to the distant and disturbing 1944, sitting at the tables with the carefree happy people who never knew that Hitler's troops just in an hour would suddenly invade the city turning it into a strange beef goulash. Outside the window, it was like a chase, the search for those whose life suddenly became completely different. Now this place is full is fun and bars, but at that time, many years ago, these night streets became both a refuge and a concern for many. The Danube bridge still keeps traces of those days.
Here those who were not very lucky were shot and thrown into the waters of the river, but their shoes have remained a living monument. Thank God in 1945, Soviet troops entered Budapest and liberated the ghetto. About 94,000 Jews survived, the Nazis mined the ghetto, the area was ready for a global explosion, but Soviet soldiers cut off electrical wiring and the area, in which we now drank Hungarian wine, was peacefully saved! I admire everyone who liberated the city, I know that in Budapest there is the Museum of Terror which tells how the Soviet CSS officers who didn't submit to the regime were tortured, but I am glad that once the Red Army was the first to enter the city. Back in the hotel, my thoughts were far away that night, in the ghetto where up to 20 people were held in one room.
I don't know whether it was a coincidence that we chose this place to stay in Budapest.
To unwind a bit, we began to wander along the night streets, but closer to midnight all the establishments began to close and we accidentally stumbled on the floor of an underground strip bar.
There were steps , but a bouncer guard mistook us for fellow Czechs, and with another very strong guy, got me in.
Inside , in a small room, near the pole, half-naked girls sat on the sofas. A couple of them danced for a lonely guest with a voluptuous expression, wagging their hips. Having noted the girl in white socks, we almost laughed and, under the pretext of hastening to withdraw money from an ATM, we hurried away. The strong guys just wasted their time dragging me over a high threshold)
Having arrived in the hotel, we fell asleep for a couple of hours, our plane left early in the morning, and at 2 a.m. sharp we woke up and had our early breakfast in packages (if you leave early, warn the reception staff, and you'll get an early breakfast too), and began to wait for the transfer.
I ordered the transfer too late, just a few hours before departure, leaving a note that I needed a car for a wheelchair. My tour operator sent his request to local suppliers, but they did not have time to respond quickly. As a result, at 2:30 a.m. they drove a huge minibus with very high seats and a good-natured driver who spoke English poorly. He said that all the drivers were sleeping and he was the only driver left) Well, realizing that I couldn’t climb on the seat, I and my wife, the one who never left me in hard times, climbed back into the luggage compartment and as if illegal immigrants or maybe as Jews escaping from the ghetto, we rode to the airport sitting on the carpet as if hiding. Oh, it was a pure romance, and we sang songs along the way . It was very unusual, we ran away from the city) (advice - book a transfer in advance and be sure to write in the notes that you need additional help, although no one guarantees it in fact)
In such a way our journey to the Hungarian capital, incredibly rich in impressions, came to its end. When we arrived at the airport, we drank a glass of champagne saying goodbye to this incredibly interesting city.