Szechenyi was the second thermal I had free access to today. The woman arranging my visit was hesitant to give me a tour, but did give a brief one. Basically, she reiterated the history that I had already known, but had to act dumb since they thought I was there for the first time. Actually, it was only my second time there. The first time, I never did find the indoor baths and saunas. With her assistance, I now know the access to them.
Szechenyi is the largest spring fed thermal in Europe, which boasts 16 pools. The building started in 1913, but was extended in 1927. It is truly glorious. It is obvious how people can spend an entire day here without any effort at all. They are open until 10pm year round.
Being Hungary, I had to have one typical Hungarian experience, though I can imagine this happening in the US too. I was in one pool where the fountain was spraying water out of some nymph’s mouth, so I rested under it to spray my back. Others do the same in the other pools, but I was the sole challenger to the woman’s repose sitting on the steps next to this nymph. Splashing my back was also spraying onto her, which I did not realize until a heard a clear “Excuse me” in tainted English. When I turned, she said you are getting me all wet. Well, damn lady, you are sitting in a pool of water; you are getting yourself wet, because I did not put you here. Rather than ruin my peace, I moved. She continued her conversation with a fellow stair sitter in Hungarian.
After a day of soaking, I was mellow, melted, and pliable. However, my review of the Gellert is not going to change much from the last edition of the book. They are overpriced for the few services that are included. Two thermals, two pools, one steam room, and one sauna for 3,500 Ft for a locker of 3,800 Ft for a cabin vs Szechenyi where you can have 16 choices of pools, plus multiple saunas, and steam rooms for 3,400 Ft for a cabin or 3,000 Ft for a locker.
The graduated refund system for all of the thermals is gone. If you leave before 2 hours, both Gellert and Szechenyi will give you 300 Ft back period. It used to be much more for leaving before 2 hours, and a reduced amount for 3 and 4 hours. Those days are history.