Somewhere the whole concept of playing chess in a bathing suit was not making sense to me. Sure, I had heard of chess boxing before – a bizarre game where you smash each other’s nose, and promptly proceed to sit down and play a game of chess, pretending none of that happened.
It was when I went to the Budapest bath houses that I found a new way of socializing –old men in bathing suits catching up with friends over chess in the middle of a pool, a mother and daughter smoking and gossiping, giggling schoolgirls, a young family…
The Budapest bathhouses are hundreds of years old, and it’s very apparent in the old-style architecture, columns and marble staircases. Rich in thermal waters and mineral springs, Budapest has been known as the City of Baths with bathhouses dating to around 500 years ago. Each bathhouse has several sections and pools and rooms – so you really need to spend at least half a day to soak in the place.
And it’s not as simple as sitting in your home bathtub.
Bath houses are intense affairs. You have a routine that you must follow, and look effortlessly cool at the same time. It goes something like this: Soak in 40 degrees for 10 minutes, get out. Run to the sauna for 10 minutes, and just when you’re warm and toasty, get out again and – jump into 10 degrees freezing water. The last dip is the toughest, but this is what seals the pores, literally. You feel fresh, energized, and ready to go back in.
For those looking for a different level of pampering, there are massage rooms as well with masseurs on standby. It’s amazing how everything is still intact, hygienic, and everything works. Except the towels. Those seem from year 1570 as well. So take your own. And take no valuables along – Just a huge expectation that this is going to be fun.
Because trust me, this will truly blow your mind.
(Note: The photograph shown above is sourced from the web. Unfortunately, I do not have any images as i was asked to leave my mobile phone with them before entering the bath house.)