If you saw my bedcovers in the morning, you would think I was possessed in the night. Seriously, how can a person be so violent with a defenseless down comforter? Maybe that demon is still in there ...
I didn't fall asleep until 3:15 AM. With good reason. I was all a-twitter because I was waking up early to take an out-of-town trip to a cute little town called Miskolc. There's a CAVE BATH. I may never return.
Having not taken any public transpo yet since I prefer to walk everywhere, I was a tad anxious about finding my way to the Keleti train station in time for my 10:30 am departure.
I was up an at 'em by 8:30, slightly groggy but pumped, and smartly left myself enough time to prepare my hot water and lemon, and coconut milk smoothie. This kind of preparation never happens. I usually wait until the very final moment to get out of bed, and then never have time for the readiness part. I typically run out the door, purse overflowing, no makeup on, hair uncombed, forgetting something important on the kitchen counter and having to run all the way back up a super steep flight of stairs and then also ending up sweaty. This is one of the reasons I've begun investing only in stretchy pants - no buttons=less readiness-time required=more time in bed. (The other reason is, why torture myself with buttons and muffin tops?)
But TODAY. What success!! I got to the train station at 9:50 AM!
I'm gonna go ahead and declare it: I'm turning over a new leaf. I literally don't think I've ever gotten somewhere with 30 minutes to spare. I'm a perpetual late person. It often baffles me that I ever get ANYWHERE. I get so lost in time--maybe I'm just really a genius practicing Einstein time--that it's become a joke amongst my family members. I live in Mandyland. "It's a wonderful place to be." Come on over and visit sometime!
The train ride to Miskolc was 2 hours through Hungarian farmland. I was originally seated next to a very unfriendly Hungarian lady, but it wasn't a popular time of day to travel, so I was able to snag a row to myself. INTROVERT WIN!
When we pulled into the Miskolc-Tiszai train station, I had to quickly activate this tourist pass I bought which gives free access to public transport and other discounts. There was free wifi on the train, and I wasn't sure what kind of connection the Miskolc station would offer so I lingered and activated while other passages disembarked. I was standing near the door, and it started to shut so I instinctively stuck my arm in it. I look behind me and the sadistic train repair guy is staring at me with his finger on the button. Message received, dude. I disembark.
Nothing is in English. There are vague pictures of stuff that are meant to indicate things but they make no sense. I wander around outside until I see the tram I'm supposed to take. I hop on and have no idea what to do with my pass. So I pretend I don't exist and sit down.
Next is a transfer to bus 2. I must wait outside for this. FUUUUUUUUK. Hungary is cold. It's like -100 Celsius and my fingers wanna fall off.
Eventually we get to a stop where everyone gets off, so I get off, too. My herd mentality is on point.
I wander around yet again, and finally determine I am indeed in the right place. I make my way into a park, and stumble upon ... THE CAVE BATH.
I try not to look like I'm running inside, but I am.
No idea where to go, nothing in English once again, but fortunately there's an info desk and the guy can make out what I'm saying for the most part, and escorts me upstairs to show me around.
Oooooooh I get my own changing room! I'm used to changing with 50 slippery-wet women who are accidentally slapping boobs against butts as they lean over to put on shoes or take off used swimsuits. This is a major upgrade.
Sadly, the Pyrex container filled with the contents of my lunch shattered at some point along the way. I ate it anyway. Preeeeeeetty sure I also ate some glass. Fiber! It's good to vary your source of fiber!
I eat in the changing room. I change in the changing room. I prepare myself for the majesty of the baths in the changing room.
And I enter ...
The Cave Bath. The Capital of Why People Hate Other People's Children. (Sad and mad face.)
To its credit, the Cave bath is very cool-looking. You dip into a slightly-warmer-than-cold swimming pool and get carried through a maze inside of a cave. But it's a SWIMMING POOL. I was just outside in Siberia, and this shit is NOT WARM. I'm freaking out. I want to leave. Why did I book two nights in this town???? How the fuck did I even get here anyways?!!!!
I take a breath. "Spirit, show me what it is I need to see here."
I allowed myself to be carried by the water's flow, and I float around a corner to see a random staircase. I walk up. There are winding hallways with green arrows and ascending numbers. I find another pool. It's SLIGHTLY warmer. I think, "ok I can do this." Then the screaming begins. I think I'd take ridiculous, partying frat boys over shouting, splashing children having fun. NOT HAVING IT.
Moments like this make you appreciate what you've already got. Gellert: WARM. SUBDUED. SPACIOUS. AN ACTUAL REAL FUCKING THERMAL BATH.
I have a sense I'm missing something. There has GOT to be a warmer option. I set out in search, and 10 steps later, my eyes fall upon the Mecca of all Meccas: JACUZZI. Thank you, oh glorious Italian invention. (Read about the guy who invented it).
In anticipation, and in dread of disappointment, I walk over to the jacuzzi, and lower myself in. AHHHHH. At last.
SPLASH. SCREAM. SQUEAL. SPLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWFUUUUUUUUUCCCKKNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Where is my relaxing thermal bath oasis?! Take me back to Budapest. I want it NOW, mummy. I want it NOOWWWWW.
I made the most of it. I will not return to the cave baths even though I brought 2 extra swimsuits. Tomorrow I'm gonna take a forest train to a seemingly adorable town in, well, the forest.
I took the bus back into the main town--still clueless about what to do with my transpo ticket--and meandered around the city center in sub-degree temperatures search of food.
Confession: I ate meat and drank wine tonight. I now understand why freezing-climate communities subsist on meat and potatoes and booze. It warms you the eff up. My body craved it on a primal level that I cannot explain other than "ARRRUGGHNNGG. MEAT. WINE." I heeded it. If I'm learning anything on this journey, it's to trust and follow that gut feeling (even if it's feeling like it wants dead flesh and fermented grapes). Good news, I started with salad. Winning?
I was supposed to get a 10% discount on the check because I bought that tourist pass. When they gave me the check, I asked if it was discounted. Yes, they said. I had a feeling they were bullshitting me. And when I looked closer at the check, I saw that my feeling was correct. Pulled one over on the naive American girl. I was stewing about it for the whole taxi ride to my Airbnb. Mostly I was mad at myself, not them, for not speaking up for myself. Why did I just roll over? Clocking that as an area for improvement.
The taxi dropped me off in front of what looked like an abandoned building, with amateur-looking graffiti decorating the walls. Looming out front was an attractive Hungarian man in a jacket and beanie. I registered that this was my Airbnb host, waiting to check me into the apartment. He was impressed with how little I packed, and I must say, this is another leaf turned. I typically take after my mother and pack my entire closet "just in case I want options."
Guys, this place is like a hotel. Newly renovated, THREE huge bedrooms, fully equipped kitchen, AND a mini bar. Though, surprisingly I had no interest in the alcohol. I fulfilled my booze quota at dinner.
If my Budapest place is like a retro 70s ode to Oscar-Wilde, this is like the Andy Warhol/meets-IKEA fantasy of Airbnbs. Each room has a city theme, and HELLO, can you say, Destiny?! Paris, London and New York--the 3 destinations on my trip aside from Budapest.
And I could take a proper HOT FREAKIN BATH. I can never bathe enough. I'm a Cancer, and I'd live in water if I could. So I'm taking advantage of this sweet bath setup, and bathing in Balance and Serenity oils before bedtime.
Going to bed early tonight. Seriously! (Don't quote me on that.)