„You could grow goldfish in your swimming cap.“ The rim of the large thin plastic shower cap has been filling with water in the neck. It is one of these shower caps that look like a freezer bag with an elastic band to hold it on the head and we had to buy it to enter the swimmers’ pool of Szechenyi bath. The 26°C warm pool has proper swimming lanes, just a few people are swimming, not too slow and not too fast, but the shower cap is just unsuited to swimming.
So we move to the 28°C fun pool with jacuzzis and swirls, and to the 32°C „hot pool“ where a few elderly Hungarians stand at high counters playing chess on water-proof plastic chess boards. Behind them countless tourists drift through the warm waters.
Jewish history in Budapest
Just as the pool, Budapest is pleasant and full of tourists, and still feels authentic. We visit the well-restored synagogues and the coffee houses, join the weekend crowds on Margaret Island and try local specialities such as flodni, a Jewish cake with nuts, apple, raisins and poppy seeds, and langos, a deep-fried dough-patty with sour cream and / or cheese.
Smaller towns in Hungary
After Budapest we move on to Pécs in the far south of the country. Pécs was a cultural capital of Europe only a few years ago and is home to early Christian tombs registered as UNESCO world heritage.
“Tourist information” announces the plate on the door, and Erika’s nameplate displays a British flag. But Erika speaks only very fast Hungarian. After a while of non-communication, we try “Kemping? Autobusz?”, and Erika points reluctantly to the bus station on the somewhat outdated city map. In the countryside, it turns out, some people speak German, few English, and all the rest can’t even imagine someone not speaking Hungarian. But we get by, spend a day exploring the minor sights of Pécs and move on to the Balaton area.