Ten Essential Rules for Spa-ing in Budapest

If you haven’t had your décolletage massaged while learning that Hungarian girl toddlers aren’t allowed to sit on the floor during the chilly months because they might contract a cold through their gynecological parts- then friends, you haven’t lived.

The following are ten rules for a successful foray into Budapest’s spa life:

#10: It’s rude to stare at the scantily clad masses.  Avoid this by taking in the elaborate, art nouveau decor.  Don’t let it bother you that the naked baby cherubs are often making out with each other; the world is not totally run by ex-Breitbart guys and art doesn’t always have to imitate life.

#9: Definitely, definitely, definitely get a face massage/facial, because she will rub warm scented oils all over your upper parts until your eyeballs roll back in your head and your toes start to wiggle with glee.  Try to figure out why you’ve never done that before while becoming as relaxed as you’ve ever been in your life.  But also,

#8: cough a little bit, and disgustingly like you’ve been doing all week since that stupid flu you had.  This will prompt the facial lady to open up about Hungarian health beliefs, including the spectacular nugget noted above.  Enjoy it immensely when she struggles to find the right English to describe the parts through which babies catch colds before finally settling on “ovaries”.  But don’t enjoy it in a mean way because she is the nicest lady ever and she is giving you one of the top hours of your leisure-time life.

#7: Go back to the baths.  Hop from pool to elaborately tiled pool because they’re all different temperatures and you haven’t yet figured out Celsius stuff.  Settle in to a wall seat and watch couples do more forehead-to-forehead cuddling than you’ve ever seen in your life.

#6: And then make some American friends.  They’ll invite you into the sauna, which is a clearly labeled but ridiculous Fahrenheit of 195º.  Pretend you are the most amazing living creature in the world, which is a tardigrade, and then let that center you in the heat until your hoop earrings get hot enough to burn your neck like a curling iron gone rogue. This will take approximately 45 seconds. Refer to rule 5, which is

#5: never, ever, ever wear earrings into a sauna, dummy.  Just don’t.

#4: Head back outside to the thermal pools because it’s winter and super-fantastic to be comfortably outside in a hot tub, especially one that has jets strategically placed in such a way that if you enter the whirlpool, they vigorously churn you in a large circular pattern like counterclockwise butter.  This one will make your face hurt from all the smiling until the wolf pack of college kids drunkenly takes it over.  One of them will cockily be wearing a Borat onesie, until he isn’t anymore.  Feel free to try to catch a glimpse through the bubbles, but remember:

#3: a frat boy is a frat garçon is a frat Junge no matter where you are in the world, so maybe actually don’t bother with the looking at him.

#2: Because remember, the statues here are incredible!  That one with the woman in the throes of ecstasy as the swan’s beak envelops her naked breast is an interesting specimen, and it’s right there by the side of the pool as if the entire place has been built around your ability to see it!  There’s also this baby riding a fish with some teeth.

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And finally,

#1:  tell your friends, man.  This place is swell.