The thick blanket of clouds hovering overhead in Budapest stood in stark contrast to the sunny blue skies of Madrid.

Was I really only in Spain one day ago?

I stood, alone, at the ticket counter at the Szechenyi baths.

“Just one please,” I told the attendant.

I wish I had company.

She handed me the watch with the microchip, which would serve as my entrance into the baths and the key to my lock, and I walked into the gorgeous bath house.

Outside, three pools of varying temperature were filled with people of all ages, enjoying the sunless day in Budapest.

I headed to the locker room.

Women were disrobing everywhere.

Um, what?

I clung to my bag, which contained my bathing suit.

Nope. There was no way I was going to take it all off right there, in front of strangers. Hell, even if it was people I knew, my outgoing personality was no match for my modest, keep-my-clothes-on-in-public attitude.

So, I took the chicken way out and locked myself in a restroom to disrobe.

I came out, clad in my bathing suit, clothes packed neatly into my bag, flip-flops on, feeling like I had broken the rules. Everyone else changed in the open, but noooo … not me. I played the part of coward pretty well.

After locking my bag in my locker, I proceeded up the stairs and outside to the baths.

The three outdoor baths were full of people, enjoying their Sunday morning. Couples clung to each other, friends stood in groups laughing, families played in the warm water.

And I stood there, immersed in the warmth, but lost in thought.

I guess decompressing takes longer than I thought. Especially after being with people for so long. Finding myself alone threw me a unplesant curveball. I wanted to be happy, to be in the moment, but my mind kept wandering to the past week in Monfrague and my new friends and my desire to still be with them.

But, there I was. So, I tried to make the most of it.

I bopped in and out of two of the three outdoor baths — the third one was just a bit too cool for outdoors in April in Budapest. Then, went inside.

First thing about the indoor baths — the smell of sulfur is a bit overpowering. But, I liked it.

There were two main baths, one about 33 C and the other about 38. As soon as I stood in one of them, I felt my skin tingle. It felt great. Relaxing. Kinda awesome.

For an hour or so, I sampled the indoor thermal baths and saunas.

Then, the skies opened up and rain started to come down. Instead of staying in the indoor pools, I decided to call it a day at the baths and head back to the locker room.

I stood in front of my locker, looking from the suit I was wearing to the clothes I had laid out on the bench in front of me. Two older women stood in the room, talking amongst themselves. If they did notice me, they ignored me.

Do it. Do it. Do it.

I stood for a moment longer.

It’s just naked, D. It’s no big thing.

So, I undid the bow at my neck and took my top off. Yes, I did it the modest way, quickly covering myself, but I did it.

Then, I did the same with my suit bottom, pulling my shirt down so no one could really see anything — if anyone was even looking.

And, then … I was back in my jeans, T-shirt, fleece, socks and sneakers.

Ha. Just like that, D.

I walked out of the bath house, smiling at myself for my little inner victory for the day.

18 comments

    1. Sadly, don’t think I will be at either location … at least this trip. Gellert in Budapast lets you go in naked so if I head back to Buda, aside from my quick stopover Sunday early morning, will do it.

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  1. Haha I had a remarkably similar experience at the baths in Budapest. Except I unknowingly sprung for the very thorough, very naked massage. Far more intimate then I’ve ever wanted to be with an overweight Hungarian lady!

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  2. I remember the first time I changed in the open in a locker room. Way to go D! Lifes to short to hover over toilets trying get your suit off or on. Hehe

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  3. Ahhhh great story! The icelandic public baths are similar. You’re supposed to strip down and shower before putting on a swimsuit.

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