So about a month ago, Lauren and I were completely ignoring a girls basketball game (because we were working at it, and you can) when I decided it was cold and I wanted to take a bath- one of those baths with all the rejuvenating minerals and whatnot that are advertised with words like “thermal springs” and “once in a lifetime”.
“Where do you take those baths?” I asked Lauren. She sang back something Sound of Music-y, because that’s another thing we do at basketball games: non-sequitur singing. I paused my game of Candy Crush and searched the Internet.
“Bam! Budapest! Wow, it’s only like $500 for a plane ticket.” (Side note: this was purely because the layover has been suicide bombed as recently as seven months ago and the State Department warning looks like this:
but I figured as long as I didn’t go into too much detail with people like parents, I’d be okay. This has worked out well so far in that the most dangerous thing in the Istanbul airport turned out to be the price of a sandwich.)
Anyway, exactly one staff meeting later Naomi also decided it was a good deal, and despite our having spent zero time alone together outside of an ice skating excursion that lasted the better part of five minutes a couple of years ago at Rob’s, we booked a trip together. If you haven’t met Naomi yet, when she walks toward an elaborate gate she looks like this:
and as it turns out, we’re great travel buddies because we both like baths and castles and we walk really fast. That’s what we did today.
Budapest, mind you, is visually pretty stunning. Forget that, though, if you haven’t eaten for twenty hours. I ordered a Hungarian bistro plate (translation: MEAT. and a radish) and some spicy chocolate coffee (translation: shot of caffeinated brown Tabasco sauce) in my first epicurean foray, and there was definitely a castle and a dragon statue outside that I could have been looking at instead. We got there, though. And despite my initial disgust at the protein platter, I was well fortified by the meat and livers of every animal in the zoo for the seven mile walk that followed. Here’s what we saw:
Decent architecture and whatnot, right?
At some point it got dark, however, and we decided to seek out a bathing spot. Quite frankly, it was all I dreamed it would be. For two hours we perched ourselves in a natural hot spring on a cliffside overlooking the Danube with a couple of friendly Irishmen (horse racing journalist and rickshaw novelist, if you can believe the small talk of strangers) and talked British menagerie/torture chambers and virgin queens. Went for drinks afterward in the desolate Monday night Buddha bar while a desperate hawker asked if we wanted “suspicious things”.
No thank you, sir. I’m quite happy with the way things are right now.