A handy guide to Thermal baths (not really)

Today we visited the famous Széchenyi Thermal Baths for some soaking.  We caught the old train line there, on our last public transport tickets – bought the entry tickets and through to the spa we went.

After the turnstile clicked over, we were in unexplored territory.  Explanations or maps are deemed frivolous to the Hungarians, and therefore none are forthcoming.  We stood, bewildered, at the vast array of tiled doorways, clutching our bags and towels, like lost children.

Therefore, I have written for you a handy guide, should you ever find yourself at this establishment:

1.Enter the changing area with confidence, and proceed to select one of the double doored closets,  pulling open the door firmly.   These double sided cupboards have a unique locking system, undetectable unless you accidently sit on the handle when removing your shoes.   The locking system engages a hinged extension to the seat which acts as a barrier as the doors do not latch in any way.     Failure to engage this unique locking system, may result in Steven, or other newbies searching for an unengaged change room flinging the door inwards and collecting the unsuspecting bather inside (also unaware of the locking system) square in the forehead with the handle as she bent over to remove her shoes.    No one likes to hear groaning coming from the change room, really brings the tone down.

2.Newly changed, and now holding your street clothes, you proceed to the locker room. To locate a locker, massage your token over the lock for 10 minutes or so and croon a little frank sinatra at it, for it to be awoken and swing open.   Stow your gear and repeat the process to ensure closure.

3.Proceed to the shower cubicles and in the same way as you would upon entering jail, soap your body in accordance with the diagram, specifically armpits and crotch, as the helpful diagram points out that these areas harbour large amounts of bacteria.  Do this in full view of all patrons and if you are a largish man, feel free to turn around and share the love.

Congratulations – You are now ready to take on the world of thermal bathing.

Clutching your towel and hopefully clad in your appropriate footwear (remember the bacteria?)  There are a dizzying array of pools to choose from, varying in temperature and mineral content.  For the newby, said mineral content and more importantly temperature is again deemed to be superfluous to requirements and accordingly you can judge the temperature by the reaction of those entering.   Higher temperatures result in smiles and smooth gliding entries.  On the flip side,  a nervous jiggling motion (girls) or acrobatic jumping (guys) accompanied by breathless gasps will tip you off that this is in fact cold.

Some dos and don’ts….

DO ensure that your bather bottoms are wedged firmly up your bottom, to ensure maximum bum cheek exposure.  This ensures that every guy in the place will need to either remain in the water longer than anticipated, will need to visit the cold pool frequently or will suddenly notice items requiring repair on the roof surface.

DON’T expect large hairy men to take a seat in the sauna or steam room.  Instead welcome their open legged stance positioning the speedo clad moose knuckle a foot from your face.  This is double the fun when a group of them conduct a long animated conversation whilst standing there.

DO sit on the steps leading into the pool or better yet lie over them, so that no one can enter the pool  Make sure your bather bottoms are wedged firmly up and lie on your stomach so anyone attempting to leave the pool must be eye level with your junk.  Guys will need to remain in the pool again.   This however will leave you vulnerable to copping a good splashing to the face when a crabby woman gets sick of trying to move around you.

DO ensure you clutch your mobile phone whilst in the pool, because that is just logical isn’t it.  You may need to take a call (unlikely) snap a million selfies, or possibly be that creepy guy taking photos of all the missing bather bottoms.  Double points if you video whilst walking around.

DO ensure you bend over to retrieve belongings left poolside in an outward facing direction.  The best effect is achieved if you are a largish man in 15 year old bathers.

DO yell loudly at your friends who are two feet away, because.. water = exciting.

DON’T freak out if a stray band-aid drifts past you in the pool, simply wave it along its way to get caught up in the next guy’s back hair.


*Bum cheeks are the new black.

*Ironic that you need a bathing cap to enter the swimming pool, despite there being more hair on some guys backs than on their heads.

*Many patrons appear to be mirror-less at home.    The larger the bather, the smaller the costume.

*Bathing costumes should be renewed on a bi-yearly basis, to avoid confronting translucency issues.

*You are also rarely the same size as you were 15 years ago.

*Men are required to carry their girlfriends around in the pool.

Additional Handy Guides are to come…some examples are

The art of the highway Toll Booth

How to speak Italian

Pruning for tourist destinations

Beginners physics for motorhome drivers

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Is it too late to have a gap year in your late 50s? To take back some time from our day to day working life to travel - unplanned, unescorted, unfettered? To take that leap? It was a defining year - liberating, challenging, humbling, scary. It was many things, but it wasn't a holiday.

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