Sunday, February 05, 2006

BUDAPEST: BATHING BOOTIES

I think I'm finished with Eastern Europe. After spending one (1) week in Prague last spring, I told myself that there was no reason to return to the depths of depressing and dark yet decorous Eastern European cities. Even last fall when I found myself in Vienna - beautiful as it may be - it was Eastern European enough for me, as were parts of East Berlin when I was there last August. Now, this blondie is staying West for the remainder of the time I reside in Europe.

The rainy gray sky of London is a fucking rainbow compared to the heavy fog that drowned Budapest during the three days I sludged around there. Yes: the architecture is exquisite. Yes: the landscape is gorgeous. Yes: the food is quite yummy (even for vegetarian me). Yes: Hungarian wines are delicious. But during the course of 72 hours of solitude in Eastern Europe, I was contemplating suicide.

The first bath I went to was Kiraly. I studied the baths in Budapest extensively, and every source highly recommended Kiraly. What I found out immediately upon entry, though, was that on Men's Days, Kiraly is Gay Cruising Central. The whole "Hey, let's hook up in the locker room, Stud!" culture has always repulsed me, so you can imagine how repellant I found the Kiraly baths. The desperation and lack of class of men in situations like this are enough to make me want to renounce my homosexuality altogether, join a Southern Baptist church, marry a plump divorced mother of five, and live unhappily ever after in a trailer park where we shoot for sport "those damn homosexuals" who meet at bath houses. In case this aforementioned statement has failed to convey my repulsion, I will also say that I had waves of nausea for the rest of the afternoon, and if any homo checked me out on the street, I threw Eclipse Winterfrost mints at his face. I went through three (3) tins of Winterfrost mints in one afternoon. That's an entire three-pack case.

Note to all skeevy homosexuals or those who mistake gym locker rooms for sex clubs: Homosexuality is no longer illegal, so it is no longer necessary to behave like primitive ogres who are not allowed out of your cages or caves during broad daylight. Thank you.

(And now a POV shift from first to third person...)

Picture it: Fat Hairy Hungarian men in Speedos, all gliding through thick clouds of steam as they inch themselves into the giant central Kiraly bath.

Now Picture it: Fat Hairy Hungarian men in Speedos gliding across the pool and sitting centimeters from the small American man-boy, the only blond in the building.

Listen to it: The Blond screams, "HANDS OFF, JACK-ASS!" if a finger should happen to 'accidentally' traipse across his leg, causing everyone in the Kiraly baths to all stare as if a rape was going down. The Blond did not care if said Hungarian men speak English or not.

Picture it: Apparently the common Kiraly bath gesture for "Hey, let's get it on, you big Fat Hairy Hungarian" is to extend your hand on the bench of the sauna, steam bath, steam room, or Jacuzzi within centimeters of the person next to you. This happened to the Blond whenever he moved, so he became very frustrated, particularly since he just wanted to relax.

Listen to it: Upon seeing the approaching hands, the Blond bellowed loudly, "OH, GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK!" or "I can't fucking believe I just paid like a million Fornit to be fucking perved at all goddamn afternoon" or "Get away from me, you desperate fucking homos."

Even when a very fit man from Newcastle approached me, introduced himself and began conversation, I was repulsed. In normal circumstances, I would have been extremely attracted to his Geordie features, as he looked like a fitter version of Robbie Williams and sounded like Jamie Cullum. However...(A) I refuse to cheat on Awesome, and (B) The entire situation made him repulsive to me. My two-hour Kiraly bath ticket quickly became a 45 minute one and I got the fuck out of there before someone handed me a Hungarian Roofie Mai Tai.

After being in a bad mood and assaulting passersby with Eclipse Winterfrost mints for the rest of the evening, I was determined to turn the tables and replace this horrible bath experience with a good one. So, on Friday morning I headed on over to the luxurious Gellert Gyogyfurdo, which features a spread of what are perhaps the most famous baths and pools in Budapest. I paid what seemed like a million Fornit and - beyond excited - submersed myself in the giant warm co-ed pool. For the next 45 minutes I was surrounded by screaming children accompanied by their screaming parents; gassy elderly couples who kept making extra bubbles in the water; and approximately four (4) hen parties (for Americans: bachelorette parties), all of which featured grating accents from must be the least educated areas of Britain and Australia. Again, my two-hour ticket quickly turned into approximately 45 minutes of torture.

Still determined to relax or at least not be perved at or farted on, I hightailed all the way over to Szechenyi Furdo, which is a large bath house on the northeastern outskirts of the city centre. Here - finally, fucking finally - I was able to relax for my full two-hour ticket in glorious steam baths, hot tubs, pools, etc. The clientele there was also MUCH more agreeable for my tastes: many of the bathers were around my age, and (please allow me to sound like a valley girl for a moment) like, way more fun. There are 16 different kinds of medicinal spas and pools, and I like me some variety. Szechenyi Furdo even features a big-ass wave pool that twirls you around like a ride. All was going well with my new English-speaking bath friends until some Asian tourists overheard me making Tsunami jokes. What?

Now...again...just like I said one (1) week ago, I am really glad to be back in London.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
You know when you put a stick in water and it looks bent? That's why I never take baths. - Stephen Wright