Continental Drifters - Day Three

Well, if yesterday's theme was Hungary's oppression under the Communist regime, the theme for today's adventures was our oppression at the hands of the Budapest Marathon. It followed us like a plague throughout our planned itinerary -- no matter where we went, we seemed to be inadvertently following the course of the race at the moment it was being inundated with runners. Taxis had to take routes that were vastly out of our way due to road and bridge closures. Dad's patience was put to the test as it took us the better part of half a day to see the two small churches on the Buda side of the river that caught Dad's attention, and the Museum of Applied Arts.

St. Anna's, left, turned out to be closed to the public, and the most interesting feature of the Calvinist Church, right, turned out to be the tiled roof.

The Museum of Applied Arts was confusingly organized, strangely more focused on who donated the artifacts than the pieces themselves, and evincing some of the peeling and crumbling that seems to characterize the city, but it did contain an exhibit on Hungarian couture that was compellingly laid out. Based on my admittedly limited exposure, Budapest seems to be somewhat of a hotbed for cutting-edge exhibition design.

The actual artifacts contained within may have been a bit of a let-down, but the Museum of Applied Arts was spectacularly pretty on the outside.

The highlight of the day was the Széchenyi Baths, a thermal spring harnessed for therapeutic bathing. Since such baths are a large part of Hungarian culture, I thought we should experience them, even if public swimming is far from my idea of a good time. The baths were definitely intended for a knowledgeable Hungarian audience, as the staff spoke rudimentary English at best, and English signage was scarce. Through sheer determination and perseverance, we got assigned a private changing room, and, alas, one towel to share between the two of us. The water itself was toasty warm, and felt great.

Dad likened the experience to going to a public pool, but I thought the surroundings were significantly more glam.

So many horrible Speedos... That's Europe for you...

Highlights of the baths included the built-in tables where old men were camped out playing chess, and a circular pool with an intermittent strong current which pulled you along rapidly in a vortex. It was a little scary trying to extricate myself from the current, but it was still the most fun I'd had all day. All things considered, even with our relaxing afternoon at Széchenyi, it was not one of the better days in our long history of European vacations.

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