Day 3

Roman Ruins

In Obuda (just north of Buda) there are ruins of a Roman amphitheater. The setting is a little strange, and there’s not really much there (hence they’re called “ruins,” I guess), but we wandered around for a few minutes.

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The Gellért Hotel Swimming Pool

Budapest is known for its pools and thermal baths. There are dozens. But certainly none are more elegant than the Gellért Hotel’s indoorswimming pool.

Probably none are nearly as expensive, either. We paid the equivalent of 30 złoty each to get in, but it was certainly worth it. After all, how many chances does one get to swim in a pool with columns?

We went there in the afternoon and ended up spending several hours just lounging around in the warm/hot water pool. It was nice, but I couldn’t help imagining how it would have felt after our hardest day of riding.

The only minus – required swim caps.

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St. Steven seems to be everywhere during this vacation. We went to his basilica; we saw his mummified hand; we climbed the hill he supposedly tumbled down. And we were there for the celebration of his birthday on 20 August – a national holiday, culminating in some pretty amazing fireworks.

For those of you who’ve been in Boston on July Fourth, I can sum up the scope of the Budapest show fairly succinctly. Imagine the same amount of fireworks that are sent up from the barge on the Charles also being launched simultaneously from the MIT campus, the BU bridge, and perhaps a few from the Pru for good measure. That’s basically what they do in Budapest: three huge shows spread along the Danube, on both the Buda and Pest sides, with a few more launched from other areas from time to time and a massive finale that includes a curtain of glowing sparks falling from the Chain Bridge.

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