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Visiting the Thermal Széchenyi Baths in Budapest

Visiting the local thermal Széchenyi baths in Budapest is a must do for any traveller in Hungary and keeps you away from the majority of the tourists.

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Thermal Széchenyi Baths, Budapest, Hungary, Medicinal Baths

Tendrils of steam danced across the Széchenyi baths surface. The thermal waters finally escaping from below the surface of Budapest.

Wondering why did we decide to leave our jandals in the crypt-like changing rooms below as we skipped across the cold concrete. The early morning summer sun still to warm the cobbles beneath our bare feet.

Thermal Széchenyi Baths, Budapest, Hungary, Medicinal Baths

With no idea whether the pool we had first eyed as we squinted into the sunlight would be hot or cold we slowed at the top of the steps. Hoping the steam would not betray us, we eased our party weary feet into the waters below. Split-seconds passed as we hesitated for the first feeling.

Warmth tickled our toes.

As we stumbled the few remaining steps sliding deeper into the warm water we garnered a few strange looks as we let out an audible sigh of relief.

Budapest Baths

On both the Buda and Pest sides of the city hundreds of thermal hot springs bubble silently underneath the cobbled streets. The Hungarians have tapped into these natural resources and created one of the best wellness and healing cities in the whole world.

Thermal Széchenyi Baths, Budapest, Hungary, Medicinal Baths

Suffering from a bad back? Arthritis getting you down? Or just need somewhere to relax after eating too much goulash? The healing waters of the thermal Széchenyi baths in Budapest are just the cure you need.

Local Doctor’s even prescribe visits to the baths for patient as part of their treatment.

Visiting the thermal Széchenyi Baths

After dancing for the last three days at the Sziget music festival, relaxing was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Ignoring the tourist crowds looking for a bit of rest and relaxation at the well known Gellert Baths we recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and following the locals to the lesser known Széchenyi baths.

The locals flock here on the weekend and while some thermal baths in Budapest only allow men or women at certain times this is not one of them. Just be aware that most of their modesty is left in the changing rooms.

Luckily none of the pools we entered were bathing suits optional. 

Thermal Széchenyi Baths, Budapest, Hungary, Medicinal Baths

We quickly learned that it’s not all about the bathing either. Fitness centers, massages, no less than 15 baths and 10 sauna rooms will keep you occupied for hours.

The hottest sauna we found was a roasting 100°C. 

Inching the door open our faces were assaulted by steam. We now know what it feels like to be a freshly caught crayfish being boiled after diving. It hurt just to breath through our noses.

Skidding back across the scorching tiles (still jandal-less) outside to a welcome breath of fresh air we felt so out of place.

While we knew that there were benefits from sitting in the tepid baths we had no idea what we were meant to be doing. Even after watching the locals closely and trying to emulate their routine we still couldn’t figure it out. We dipped into one pool for five minutes before shuffling across the slippery tiles to the next bath or sauna. All of which were different temperatures.

I even tried to out last the slightly larger Hungarian’s in the ball-shrinking ice baths. They thought it was a great joke as my skinny body shivered in the corner.

Not being able to make heads or tails of it we decided just to sit back and relax.

Thermal Széchenyi Baths, Budapest, Hungary, Medicinal Baths

Extra Travel Information:

The Széchenyi baths are located in the City Park with a Metro stop directly outside so it’s really easy to get to. They are open year round and while the prices seems to fluctuate we paid 3,600 FT ($15 USD) each with a locker.

Fly to Budapest easily from pretty much anywhere in Europe with Jet2.com. And we recommend staying at Marco Polo Hostel as they are quiet and have a brilliant breakfast buffer.

Disclaimer: We were invited to step out of our comfort zone by the Visit Hungary Tourism Board for our trip to Budapest. As always our thoughts, recommendations and speedos are always our own.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Jess | GlobetrotterGirls

    August 17, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    This looks great. I’ve been obsessing about Hungary for a while now, and spas, so this is a definite ‘to-do’ when we finally get to Eastern Europe next year!

    • Cole Burmester

      August 17, 2012 at 5:18 PM

      Add it to the top of the list but maybe after a heavy day sightseeing when you want to rest up 🙂

  2. Laurence

    August 17, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    Sit back and relax is the best idea 😀 I visited the thermal pools in NZ’s Rotorua, great fun.. if a tad on the odorous side! Not sure I was any healthier afterwards though…

    • Cole Burmester

      August 17, 2012 at 5:18 PM

      I actually thought the Szechenyi baths smelled a little like Rotorua! Must be all the minerals.

  3. Jeremy Branham

    August 17, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    I went to Szechenyi many years ago before it was popular with tourists. I loved the experience. The architecture inside the Szechenyi Bath was amazing. However, the experience was even better. It was my first time going from hot pool to cold pool. Quite a shock on the body!

    • Cole Burmester

      August 19, 2012 at 9:52 AM

      Felt really good jumping between the different baths. No wonder pro-athletes do it all the time for conditioning.

  4. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family

    August 20, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    Ah.. I love a good, hot soak. Definitely adding this to my list!

  5. Mary @ Green Global Travel

    August 20, 2012 at 11:37 PM

    Love that you were hanging with the locals at the lesser known Széchenyi baths. We’d love to do this someday.

    • Cole Burmester

      August 21, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      You guys are too busy saving the world to relax Mary! 🙂

  6. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    August 23, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    The only thing better than a soak in a hot spring is a soak in a hot spring after a music festival. Well done! But we really can’t believe the Jandals forgot their jandals….We’ve been soaking in volcanic hot springs in Costa Rica where the overrun, overpriced hot springs at Arenal should be skipped in favor of the numerous other soaking options at the country’s other volcanoes in the Guanacaste region. Bliss, even without your jandals!

    • Cole Burmester

      August 24, 2012 at 1:34 PM

      Wow those volcanic hot springs do sound good. And thanks for the tips for avoiding the touristy spot!

  7. Amber Hoffman

    September 9, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    Perfect timing that I came across this. We are going to Széchenyi tomorrow. Looks like we will wear our jandals around the pools, and not leave them in the locker! Good tip. And, can’t wait to see Eric in the ball-shrinking ice baths.

  8. Marianne

    September 10, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    Hey, but what a great way to recover after your three-day music festival! 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 4:39 PM

      Such a nice way to put up our weary feet (jandals) 🙂

  9. crazy sexy fun traveler

    September 15, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    This is the best place in Budapest. I wish I spent more time in there, not just one afternoon.

  10. EarthDrifter

    September 28, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    If I can get over to Budapest one of these days, the Széchenyi Baths will surely be number one on my list.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 30, 2012 at 5:38 PM

      They are a great way to spend a morning (or evening) relaxing after a massive amount of sightseeing.

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Adventure Travel

Walking the Camino de Santiago Photos

These are my favourite Camino de Santiago Photos from my pilgrimage along the French Way in March. A truly beautiful way to spend a few weeks.

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Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

El Camino de Santiago kicked my ass. Well technically it kicked my feet. Turns out my minimal preparation for the Camino de Santiago was terrible. After a miserable effort of only 4 days, the doctor in Legrono told me that I wasn’t allowed to go on until me feet healed. I had walked just over 100 km’s and my feet were bloodied and blistered.

To be honest, I was relieved.

The thought of putting back on my shoes made my shudder. For the last 9 km’s I had stumbled along in jandals and socks. One of the travelling fashion sins I vowed I would never break.

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

So while I have unfinished business with the Way of St James (an upcoming post), I did want to share with you some of my favourite photos from the Camino de Santiago. Because I had yet to reach some of the more “unsavoury” parts of the Camino that Sherry Ott had discovered, every step of my pilgrimage had been beautiful.

Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

Puenta La Reina Bridge – Camino de Santiago Arrows

There is no way you can get lost on the Camino de Santiago. Arrows, scallop shells and signs point you in the right direction at every bridge, road crossing and intersection.

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Reaching the top of Alto Pedron gave views back the way I had come from Pamplona, as well as views to where I was going. The rocky path on the way down proved to be my ultimate downfall, as my too small shoes caused my toes to smash into the front.

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

There were so many beautiful old churches along the Camino de Santiago. But since I was walking in early March, it seemed that most were yet to open for the busier summer season.

Church of Obanos

The Church of Obanos

And between every small village the well-maintained pathways of the French Way wound across the spectacular Spanish countryside.

The French Way - Camino de Santiago

The French Way – Camino de Santiago Photos

Puenta La Reina

Puenta La Reina in the evening

Puenta La Reina has one of the most amazing bridges I have ever seen. It was also the 1st village I had the pleasure of sleeping in after busy Pamplona.

Puenta la Reina Bridge and Sunrise

Puenta la Reina Bridge at sunrise

Most mornings I was up and walking before the sun began to sprinkle across the horizon.

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Every village and town was built on a small hill. Sure it looks beautiful until you realise you have to go back up again to go through them all!

Church of Santa Maria - Los Arcos

Church of Santa Maria in Los Arcos

While there were only about 20 pilgrims walking each section every day, it wasn’t uncommon for you to encounter them all. The people I met along the Camino de Santiago were some of the most inspiring and remarkable people I have ever spoken to. They are the ones that make the pilrgimage so special.

The endless French Way

The endless French Way

Irache Wine Fountain - Fuente del Vino

The free flowing Irache Wine Fountain or “Fuente del Vino”

Hay bales along the French Way

Hay bales along the French Way

Every village had at least one ancient church and it wasn’t uncommon to find them dotting the landscape in remote locations either.

Ermita de San Miguel

Ermita de San Miguel

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

I have travelled through Spain in the past, including cycling in Costa Brava and surfing in San Sebastian with both independent planning and a vacation planner. But having the opportunity to walk at my own pace through some of the most beautiful scenery in Spain on the Camino de Santiago has so far topped them all.

Natural arches - Camino de Santiago

Natural arches on the Camino de Santiago

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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Europe

Amsterdam Food Guide

If you think of Amsterdam you don’t think of food. However if you try the food here in our Amsterdam food guide you might get lucky.

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Amsterdam Food Waffles

We are total foodies and our travelling has allowed our passion for food to grow considerably (not to mention our waist lines)!  We love trying new food when we visit foreign countries and always make a huge effort to eat the local cuisine. Check out some of the food we ate below in our cheap and delicious Amsterdam Food Guide.

Amsterdam Food Waffles

We had heard from a number of people that the Amsterdam food was nothing to rave about. To be honest food was not really our main interest in visiting but then again neither was an Amsterdam Peep show and we ended up enjoying that!

However we were pleasantly surprised. I think the people whom we had talked to had it wrong. Sure Holland doesn’t really have a local cuisine but once we got over this fact we realised there is still some damn good food to be had from the various Amsterdam Restaurants.

Amsterdam Food

The best meal we had was actually next door to the Red Light district in Chinatown. Crossing the canal to the east away from the neon lights your nostrils are attacked and your mouth begins salivating from the delicious smells wafting along the narrow cobbled streets.

As we walked into Bird Thai restaurant the enticing aroma hit us instantly leaving us drooling in anticipation. It was definitely up there with some of the best Thai food we have had. We went for the classic Green curry, fried rice and duck combo.

The Green curry was so flavoursome with the richness of the coconut milk blending perfectly with the traditional spices.  The duck was cooked to perfection and for the first few minutes of the meal all you could hear was the crunching of the crispy outside layer as we devoured the duck in minutes. Needless to say the fried rice was a taste explosion too!

Cheap and delicious Amsterdam food is easy to come by. With hangovers and munchies affecting your hunger it is no surprise that there are an abundance of Fast Food chains and takeaways in Amsterdam. In fact it was actually more the way that the fast food was served that surprised us as you could buy it out of massive vending machines at Febo!

Amsterdam Food Febo

Hidden workers stand behind the vending machines churning out burgers, fries and sausage rolls so all you has to do is insert a Euro and “hey presto” you have a hot meal in your hungry hands.

Then there were the frites stores which seemed to be on every corner. The first thing you noticed about these was the tantalising smell. There is nothing like the smell of chips straight out of the fryer and covered in salt to get you tummy rumbling. Served in a triangle cardboard carton and covered in mayo which meant that that you couldn’t reach the chips at the bottom without covering your greedy fingers in sauce. Just a tad annoying!

But there is nothing like hot chips to warm you up on a cold day.

Finally, while hot chocolates are not typically food I feel they still deserve a mention especially because the usually come paired with waffles! Ahhhh the perfect breakfast.

Amsterdam Hot Chocolate

We loved nipping into a cafe or bar like Cafe Bar Eddy in Amsterdam to warm ourselves up with a hot chocolate. It literally tasted like they had melted chocolate down and added cream. Heaven in a cup. And the choice of waffles was daunting as you could have whatever you wanted. Fruit, chocolate, syrups, cream or all of the above!

If you are heading here then don’t expect to find an array of traditional Amsterdam food. Instead treat yourself to a hot chocolate and waffle for breakfast, grab a quick bite from a vending machine and sample some of the different cuisines found near the Red Light District.

If you stick to this Amsterdam food guide then your taste buds will have a great holiday too!

If you have visited before then what did you think of Amsterdam food?

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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