I arrived in Budapest early in the morning and headed straight to my hotel, the Danubius Grand Hotel and Spa on Margaret (Margitsziget) Island. The island is in the middle of the Danube (Duna), smack in the center of Budapest, an oasis of nature and relaxation in the midst of big city chaos swirling all around it.
Since my trip to Indonesia a few years ago I’ve instituted a tradition of starting my holidays with utter relaxation. Usually this means decompressing from work insanity, recuperating from many hours on a plane, and the unknotting of muscles tightened with the weight of schlepping bags across the pond. So off to spa I headed.
Hungary is known for it’s therapeutic waters, ancient baths, and health remedies at spas. The spa at my hotel had a massive menu of options in addition to general areas which included pools of varying temperatures, a cold water stone foot walk, sauna, and sun terrace. I opted for the salt cave (a first!), a therapeutic aromatic bath, and a short massage.
It’s been interesting visiting spas around the world, experiencing different etiquette and standards. In Hungary the typical USA standards of a quiet, serene environment and lack of nudity are not the same. In the salt cave, I found myself with three older Russian couples who chatted the whole time and during both the bath and massage the male therapists asked me to undress and lay down (insert joke about how many drinks it usually takes me to do this!). I think of myself as pretty liberal and well traveled, but I must admit it was a reminder how uptight we Americans are about our bodies.
The salt cave experience as I mentioned was new. Think of a room with sand on the floor like a beach, lounge chairs that tilt even farther back than your grandads barkalounger, ocean soundtrack, darkened lighting with intermittent colored lights, whilst cocooned in blankets. At first I wasn’t sure what it did for me but later I did feel a strange but not unpleasant coating down my throat.
With every ounce of tension released, I headed out for a stroll around Margitsziget, and found a beer and schnitzel to complete a wonderful first day. I’ll post more on it later but the island really is something special.