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  • Writer's pictureMonica Montanari

Day 18: R&R

This morning I woke up and showered and got ready immediately for our 1 hour car ride to Gyula- a little town in Hungary, where Shane's cousins Dalmi and Tundi live. The picked us up around 10 o'clock- Dalmi is a recently married architect and professional dancer, and Tundi (her sister) is a single interior designer who works at H&M designing the outfits for the mannequins. They are both gorgeous and speak fluent English, so we can all talk really easily. We drove to their mom's house first and had some watermelon (she gave us each 1/4th of the whole melon) and a cake made of crushed poppy seeds.

Then, we came to our hotel- a little bed and breakfast about 5 minutes from the main castle, and walked for about 5 minutes to a spa. When we first paid and walked in, I thought it was absolutely disgusting. People were swimming in a lap pool filled with the dirtiest black water you've ever seen. So we walked around for a bit and saw the whole spa (which is huge and includes an outdoor park and tons of swimming pools) and everything is filled with this mineral water that runs underneath the ground. It comes out warm (just like the healing water in Gyoma) and is yellow-ish/clear when you hold it in your hands, but when there's a lot of it it turns BLACK- and that fills the pools. Some pools had a lot of filtering so the water looked almost normal, and some had less so the water was just black. But it's naturally warm so it was pretty awesome! We got into one of the pools and I wasn't going to at first, but I did (take note: I am pretty scared of dark water where I can't see what's under me) and it was really cool!

The water feels really good- almost soft on your skin. So we sat in the blackest warmest water for a while, but then it started raining (and this pool was outside) so we went inside and swam in the indoor pool that's filtered a little and swam for a while. Afterward, we sat in a sauna that was 45-50 degrees Celsius- then at 2, we sat in the sauna that is 70-80 degrees Celsius because they do a special thing at 2 o'clock where they add stuff to it to make it really relaxing or something. Well- at first we sat down and I wasn't dying- I mean I could breathe fine and wasn't like, sweating a lot, but it was kind of uncomfortable. So I went out and got back in right when the guy came in to do the thing. So in the sauna, there are two canisters about 3 feet tall in the middle filled with rocks, which heat the sauna. So the guy walked in and gave what seemed like a safety briefing- all in Hungarian. Good stuff. So the guy came in with the beer infusion (they also have cheery awakening, relaxing, etc.) and basically took a wooden spoon and poured it into the rocks. Well that was okay. It didn't get too hot all of a sudden- he walked around to each person and fanned them with his towel to create some wind, which felt good and released the beer smell (like warm oats and wheat and etc.) .

Then, he poured the rest of the beer into the rocks, which creates heat. It wasn't a lot at first... but then he took his damn towel and started swirling it above his head and it seriously felt like I couldn't breathe. It was WAYYY too hot for me and I started coughing and stuff, so I didn't want to stay in there too much longer, so Shane and I (first-time sauna goers) left right after that and hung out outside and dipped in the cold pool and hung out before going to lunch at a restaurant in the sauna place (it was called a saunapark- like a water-park but for saunas). The lunch place had hamburgers and hot dogs- but they were a little different. My hot dog had a bun like you would put kolbas in- so it was way too thick and took forever to chew through. It was good though.

However.... I had a towel on my lap and I spilled ketchup on it twice, so I decided to take it off of my lap. Immediately afterwards, I spilled ketchup again- and though the towel was not on my lap, it still landed on the towel. WTF?!?!? Shane says his hamburger was good too, but didn't have too much meat on it. Anyway, then Dalmi, Tundi, and their mother wanted to go back for the 4 o'clock infusion of herbs, but I didn't want to go back for seconds, and Shane wanted to hang out with me, so we explored a seat where you put your feet in hot rock baths, and then sat in the 45-50 degree (C) sauna again, which was really comfy and nice. We also checked out the 40-50 degree (C) steam bath sauna- but it felt more like the 70-80 degree bath and I wasn't having any of that for too long. My lungs don't dig that. We also checked out a Finnish (like from Finland) sauna that was 80-90 degrees (C). That's 176 to 194 degrees. We just poked our heads in there because it was literally miserable. No way, Jose.

We did have fun sitting in the 45-50 degree sauna though- that was really relaxing and comfortable. We were there from 12 until about 4 o'clock, and then Tundi had to leave to go back to Budapest for work, so we went with Dalmi to a few antique shops for Shane's dad, and then to the castle in Gyula, which you can learn more about here, and they were having a fair outside the castle walls. It was adorable! They had traditional Hungarian music and dancing, and a bunch of adorable tents where you could buy handmade Hungarian items. I jumped at that opportunity. Originally we hadn't planned to go inside the castle until tomorrow, but we were already there and wanted to see it, so we went inside and saw all of the medieval armor, guns, knives, outfits, furniture, etc.!

It was really cool- and then we climbed the tower to the top of the castle, and walked around the top level of the castle before climbing the tiny spiral staircase all the way to the top, where the lookout was. It was crazy! It was also built in 1400, and the place where Dalmi got married a couple of years ago- so it was fun to see! Then we came back to the hotel, changed, and went out to dinner with Dalmi, her mother, and her stepfather, at a restaurant that he built for the owner. It was gorgeous and I decided to order Macaroni and Cheese to see how different it was from Americas. Well, it came, and was basically angel hair pasta with a cheese on top that was like a cross between sour cream and mozzarella. It was good though! They order 4 plates of Steak Tar-tar for Shane and his dad, and it was gorgeous!

We then went to a completely adorable old-fashioned candy shop- but here the only candy is chocolate- they don't make any kind of hard candy (which is my favorite); but still, it was super fun, and we all got ice cream and chocolates. Then we took a long walk around the city at night- and it's really gorgeous! They have fountains everywhere and everything is lit up, and the castle is always lit up. We walked by the castle just in time to see the very last number of a folk dance and get some drinks at a bar right under the lit-up castle (turns out we showed up on the opening day of a folk festival at the castle- which is completely perfect for us to explore the culture!) and walked across the pond where there are tons of willow trees, and a park at the end.

Shane and I couldn't resist, and decided to try out the wooden see-saw; I haven't seen one of those in a long time! We had fun being creeped out by how high in the air we got, and laughed hysterically. But then Shane asked a very good question. " do we get off of this??" We inched off slowly until we were sure nobody was going to go flying, then walked all the way back to the hotel- and here we are!

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