My European adventure took me to Budapest. I had read about the thermal baths in the guide books, but I didn’t know what to expect. I imagined a dank, dark, sweaty place with hefty, hairy attendants ready to swat your naked body with tree branches.
What I found was a Baroque palace. The Széchenyi Baths (Széchenyi fürdő) is one of the largest public baths in Europe. It turns out to be a grand place, built in 1927, with 3 large outdoor swimming pools and 15 indoor pools of different sizes. All the pools are fed by thermal springs and the temperatures range from 70-110 degrees F. It’s co-ed (bathing suits required) and it’s a lively scene with tourists and natives, old folks and hipsters, everyone relaxing, swimming, hanging out, even the surreal spectacle of men playing chess while immersed up to their chests in steaming water.
It was a wonderful location to make photographs. The ornate palace backdrop and the blue waters made for great compositions. It was such a friendly place and no one seemed to mind the camera.