Budapest does not do “small.” Everything is SUPERSIZE, from gothic buildings to giant guard dogs. It quickly became one of my favorite cities. Three big things you must try:
1. Splish splash, take a massive bath
Hungarians, like Turks, approach bath-taking with a religious fervor.
When we arrived at the traditional bath house Rudas Baths, the concierge cautioned that it would be closing in five hours. “How long could a bath possibly take?!” we laughed.
Well, the baths span over 30 rooms, not including the saunas, steam rooms or massage parlors. Depending on the natural spring beneath each pool, water ranges from fridgid to steaming, fragrant to foul, fizzy to still. It’s an all-you-can-bathe pool buffet and naturally we wanted to try everything.
By the time we were finished, we were flushed and prunier than sun-dried tomatoes–but utterly relaxed.
A couple of tips:
A. The harmless-looking pool labeled “Enter at your own risk” is radioactive. No joke.
B. Rub yourself down with ice chunks before entering the hottest sauna.
2. Visit Szimpla bar
This multilevel hotel-turned-bar is hopping. The walls are littered with “Found Art” (common objects reimagined) and the dirt-covered floors sprout flowers. The seating was, potentially, curated from dumps across Europe. It’s a Stanley Kubrick breed of orchestrated chaos.
While you’re there try Hungary’s prized plum palinka (brandy) on the rocks.
3. Devour beef goulash and fruit strudel at Great Market
This melt-in-your mouth beefy mix would warm the chilliest polar bear.
Steer clear of cabbage goulash.