There was not much left for today, mainly the Szechenyi baths and Pleh Csarda, a restaurant we’d see on one of the Anthony Bourdain shows.  Pleh Csarda didn't open until 10, so there was no need to rush.  We left the hotel around 9:15.  We somehow got lost on the 5 minute walk to the Metro station, then couldn't find the eastbound train entrance at first, as it was concealed by stalls for the Christmas market.  The ride was quick and easy, and we popped up at the Szechenyi baths.  Inside, we weren’t sure exactly what to do, which is probably what they want – it leads to people purchasing overpriced stuff they don’t need.  We got a private cabin for changing, which wasn’t overpriced - just over $2.

The Szechenyi baths are supplied by two thermal springs, which supply water at around 170 degrees Fahrenheit (75 degrees Celsius).  There are thermal springs all over Budapest, as apparently the crust in the area is quite thin.  The springs supply over 1.6 million gallons of water a day.  The water is full of sulphate, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, and fluoride, amongst other minerals.  Because of this, the baths originally started for medicinal purposes, and are still used by a lot of people for healing treatments today.  The baths opened over 100 years ago.

We started in the outdoor pools, which was a little surreal since the air temperature was barely above freezing.  We could definitely smell the sulfur, which – sadly – we easily recognized from our time in Pahoa during the volcanic eruption this summer.  The pool had an interior circular area that was like a lazy river, going round and round.  There were also different spigots that put out water of different shapes (fan shape, shower shape, fire hose shape, etc.)  There were outdoor lap swimming pools as well, but we weren’t interested in that.

After a bit we went to the indoor pools.  Inside there were close to a dozen different pools of different sizes and temperatures, with signs indicating the temperature in Celsius.  We started at 36, which was hot but not quite as hot as we wanted, and then we found one that was 38.  Eventually we went in a steam room (somewhere between 40-50), then when we were sufficiently overheated we hit the 20 degree pool for a quick dip.  Interestingly, we were still warm after getting out of the cold dip, as underneath the surface we must’ve still been quite warm.  Then we showered and got dressed in our heavy winter clothing again, which was strange.

We went back into the Metro and went one more stop to its northeastern terminus, Mexikoi.  From there we took a 30 minute walk to Pleh Csarda.  Compared to pretty much everywhere else on this trip it was a very quiet walk, as there were zero tourists and it was not a fancy neighborhood, but it seemed safe.  But it sparked a discussion of what are some of the least safe places we’ve been on our travels, and nothing seemed particularly sketchy.  We’ve walked all over San Francisco, and parts of it are not the greatest.  The same goes for New Orleans.  And those are our two favorite cities in the country.  We couldn’t really think of anything until Justin remembered Cape Town, where one night after dinner the doorman didn’t want us waiting outside on the sidewalk whilst waiting for our taxi.  He told us to wait inside and that he’d grab us when our taxi was ready.  That was an eye opener.  On the walk we saw a tram going to Mexikoi down the middle of the road we were on, so we decided to take that back.  After our 30 minute walk, the place was not open.  We just shook our heads and then got on the tram back.

We took the M1 back into town, getting off at Vorosmarty.  Since we liked Red Pepper, and it was a one minute walk from the station, we just ate there again.  The same staff was there and recognized us from the night before.  The waiter even remembered how Justin liked his drink.  The night before he’d inadvertently poured his rum into the ice glass rather than the other way around, so today the waiter just brought the rum in the short fat glass with a bunch of ice.  For food Crystal ordered the duck breast and Justin ordered the ribs.  At lunch we debated what to do about Vienna.  Originally we had planned to drop off our bags at the train station, go into town for the evening, and then head over to the airport hotel later.  But now we felt more like visiting one of Budapest’s famous “ruin bars” and just going straight to the airport hotel after arriving in Vienna.  We ran out of time to see the Great Synagogue, so we just added that to the long list of things to see on our next trip out this way.  Back at the hotel we got packed and left around 3:45 (we had a late 4pm checkout). 

The ruin bar, Szimpla Kert, was just off the main road between the hotel and the train station, so we walked over there with our big backpacks.  A “ruin bar” is a bar – actually a collection of different bars and clubs – in an old abandoned building.  This started over a decade ago, and was a novel way of repurposing a bunch of the old dilapidated buildings from the Cold War era.  At Szimpla Kert, hardly any of the bars were open yet (maybe 20-25%), and it seemed as though no one was serving or consuming alcohol, just meandering around and taking selfies.  Since we had a train to catch, and also had 30 pounds or so on our backs, we were in no mood for this.  One of the few bars that was open had the slowest moving line ever, as people didn’t bother to figure out what they wanted to order whilst standing in line – they got to the front and then had a 2 minute conversation with the bartender.  So when Justin got to the front he just ordered two drinks for each of us so we wouldn’t have to get back in line later.  Once seated we could enjoy ourselves and enjoy the surroundings.  It wasn’t the greatest place, but it was definitely a unique experience.

We left a little before 5 and took the M2 from Astoria to Keleti, as it had started to rain a bit and we didn’t want to walk around in the rain with all our stuff.  Unlike the M1, the M2 was *way* underground, to the point we wondered if it was a bomb shelter like the stations in Tashkent.  At the train station, it wasn’t too crowded and it was easy to find our train.  We sat down, and just as we were getting comfortable a guy came in and said we were in his seat.  We weren’t sure how this was possible given that there was no option to reserve a seat, but there were plenty of other seats so we just moved.  Despite upgrading to avoid the insanity we had on the ride over here, in our small section of 1st class (10 seats total) there were two sets of crying kids – whatever, that’s what headphones are for.  At least no one was staring at us and constantly kicking our feet under the table.  We had some leftover cash and we made it a point to use that.  First we got a bottle of wine to use most of our remaining Euros, and then Justin got a beer to use up most of our remaining Forints (the Hungarian currency). 

We got to Vienna a little before 8:30.  We had seen/read in a couple places to take the S-Bahn S1 into town, then connect to S7.  The S-Bahn is more like a local tram than a big train.  We went over to the S-Bahn part of the station, which was maybe a 8-10 minute walk.  The tickets there, however, showed trains, not the trams.  We were puzzled, but eventually just looked at prices for the big trains, which we were expecting to be expensive, but they were as cheap as the tram.  At 8:33, we got tickets for an 8:40 train, which was right back where we started, so we had to run over there.  As one can imagine, there were people standing on escalators, meandering slowly in hallways, etc.  We missed the train by about 5 seconds - Crystal pressed the door button, but it didn't open.  Justin was pissed by the whole thing.

The next train wasn’t for 30 minutes, but at least it wasn’t 60 or 90 minutes.  The only other people outside on the platform were people asking for money.  It was quite cold, but we'd been running so it wasn’t too bad.  We boarded the 9:12 train to the airport station, and in 17 minutes we were there.  In the station there were long corridors to get to our airport hotel (the Moxy).  We never had to go outside except for the last 30 seconds.  We made a mental note of everything for the next morning, when we’d be going to the airport.  At check-in there was a figurine of a French Bulldog with a Santa hat.  We each took a shower, and then put on normal clothes (no long underwear!) for the first time in forever.  We went downstairs to take advantage of our free welcome drink, then came immediately back upstairs, as we were really tired.  We set our alarm for some ungodly hour and then went to sleep around 11.

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