The Thermal Baths of Budapest


Szechenyi Bath and Spa, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

We had a really nice weekend in Budapest. The highlight of the visit was our trip to the Szechenyi Bath. The city is famous for its thermal pools and this one is its most famous. As you can see from above, the pools are inside a beautiful. old building from the turn of the century. You can see the steam rising from the outdoor pools. The spa is located in a big park near the zoo and the statue square.

It is a strange experience for an American. They are open to the public and it costs around 10 Euros to enter. You can either get a private cabin or a rent a locker. There were probably about 500-600 people, but the pools are so big it didn’t feel too crowded. It was a cold night (-2C) and it is a bit dodgy heading out to the pools from the locker room, but once you hit the 38C water, it is quite heavenly.

The Spa is a great example of Neoclassical architecture.

The kids absolutely loved it. We went to the various pools, both indoor and outdoor. My favorite was the “whirlpool” that sends out a fast current that pushes people around in a circle. It is hilarious to be bumping into people.

I highly recommend visiting one of the many thermal pools in the city. It is a great thing to do on a cold winter’s evening. It is very relaxing and got us very hungry.

Nemi and Kralovecs Feeling Refreshed

It was a great day indeed, which included drinking mulled wine at the Christmas Market and a Mexican dinner at Iguana’s, one of our favorite restaurants in Budapest.

Roasted “Kurtos” Bread is a Kralovec Family Favorite

IKEA – Family Trip to Budapest, Hungary

We are in Budapest, Hungary this weekend to run in Sunday’s Half Marathon. We will be running through the UNESCO World Heritage city and are looking forward to the beautiful sites and flat course. More on the race tomorrow. We drove up on Friday evening after school and the trip took us around 4 hours. We have diplomatic lisence plates on Eidelweiss which greatly reduced the time stopped at the border. It is always strange for Americans to drive to another country. 

We are renting a nice apartment called 7Seasons, I highly recommend it as it is a good price, centrally located, and very comfortable. We can cook meals in the apartment which is great for the kids. We spent most of Saturday shopping as this is “Nadia’s weekend.” The highlight was Ikea, the Swedish superstore. It was not too painful, only $332 worth of housewares. We make an annual trip here to help out our apartment in Belgrade. 

We are both very excited for today’s run. The weather will be sunny and in the 70’s, perfect running weather. Last night it was cold and raining, so we are happy for the blue skies this morning.

Happy Birthday Ocean!


Last Sunday Nadia wanted to do some shopping in Budapest so we went down to the walking street in the center of the city. There is a square named after the Hungarian poet Vorosmarty. While she was in the various shops, I hung out with the kids in the square. What a wonderful morning it was. The kids ran around, climbed the statues and fountains, and watched all of the people in the square on a sunny early fall Sunday morning.

Being in Europe it is appropriate to think about Friedrich Nietzsche and his concept of eternal recurrence when looking at the photo above. The concept is that the universe and its events have already occurred and will recur ad infinitum. I wish the moment Nadia captured on film above would occur ad infinitum. Sadly, I don’t share the same philosophy as Nietzsche, and believe these moments happen only once. But, if I could relive a moment, it would be a tender hug and kiss from Ocean.

Ocean turns two years old today. What a glorious tumult she brought to our lives. We didn’t plan on having three children, and after two boys, a girl has arrived with all kinds of surprises. Her personality is starting to show and she’ll be another lively, enthusiastic Kralovec. She loves to laugh and has very strong feelings on what she wants and likes, and she is not afraid to let you know how she feels! She is also very independent and wants to do things herself.

Last night I took her to the store to buy milk. We did some shopping and she followed me around the store with her little cart. She was dressed in her cherry pajamas. So cute.

Happy Birthday Ocean, we love you!

My Take on Budapest


Budapest, Hungary is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Above is just one tiny example of the amount of architectural beauty that abounds. Everywhere one looks, down hundreds of streets, towers, facades, statues, etc. can be appreciated. And all of the buildings are massive. It felt a bit like Washington DC in the fact that there are so many areas with landmark buildings and squares. I can see why most of the city is an UNESCO World Heritage site. I can’t believe all of the buildings survived WWII and the communist era. 

The international school is also spectacular. It is set about 7 miles out of the city amidst orchards and villages. The K-12 campus is huge and it looks like a university campus. If I was working at the school, it would be nice to live in the village near the school.

Now the bad side – The over 3 million inhabitants of the Budapest metro area and more than 20 million tourists make the city feel crowded. Every where we went, from the cinema, to the grocery store, to the zoo, was packed with people. We felt it and it must increase the stress level of everyone. It will be something to consider when we make our next move to another international school. Many international schools are located in large cities and this will be a consideration. Belgrade is a nicer size. We also saw many more homeless people in the streets. I am not sure where they are in Belgrade, but you just don’t see them. Only the occasional gypsy, but they usually have a home. We also noticed that the street people were drinking publicly, bottles full of a yellow alcohol.

Our first hotel choice was hilarious. Nadia picked it over the internet and it looked like a nice family apartment. When we got there, it was in the middle of the red light district. They did not accept credit cards – only cash and I had to go to an ATM. While walking to the ATM, a prostitute said hello to me. Nice, with the family in the car 10 meters away. We called the owner and got out of our obligation and found a nice suite hotel in a better part of the city.

The Hungarians were much nicer this time than when we went in Christmas of last year. They make a big point of helping tourists and I had locals explain the IKEA parking lot ticket machines, people apologize for rude salespeople, etc. I imagine tourism brings a lot of money to the city. We saw tour buses and groups everywhere!

The country is much more developed than Serbia. The standard of living and cost of living are both much higher. This is good and bad, especially for expats living in the country. In talking with the international school’s principal, childcare and domestic help would be too expensive there.

The Hungarians look central European and Slavic, but their language and ethnic background is distinct from their neighbors. The language is very complex, with most words having over 10 letters and lots of symbols above the vowels. it is related to Finnish, but distantly related and the Finns don’t understand it. There are around 10 million Hungarians and the country is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world. With the architecture, wine industry, thermal baths, history, I can see why.

This was our second trip to the city. Our first I blogged here. There is still more to explore and we will definitely return.

Family Trip to Budapest

Outside the Budapest Zoo
Outside the Budapest Zoo

This weekend we headed 4 hours north to the capital of Hungary, Budapest. Our boys’ soccer teams were playing the American International School of Budapest. I brought the family up to watch the game and enjoy the weekend in a beautiful city. The kids are shown above playing in the hotel room.

That is the funny thing about kids, they enjoy different things than adults. Nadia and I were appreciating the amazing architecture of the buildings of Budapest. Most of the city is an UNESCO World Heritage site and I can see why. Everywhere one looks, there are huge, ornate facades on these magnificent buildings.

The kids enjoyed most the hotel rooms and the swing at the zoo.

More later on our trip and the city.