Spa Time

We left Budapest fairly early the next day, so this time we arrived at our destination while it was still light. Heviz is a charming town on the edge of Lake  Ballaton.  We’d followed Heinz from Budapest on small roads with little traffic, and crossed the lake on a ferry, pushing birds out of our way

Birds finally getting out of the way of the ferry

as we went. The lake water is at 30 C (or 86 F), so there’s a constant fog hanging over it where the lake water meets the air temps of (while we’ve been here) between -3 C and +8 C.  Tomorrow, after we leave, it’s supposed to get up to 12C.  But  even today at 8C it was pleasant walking around town. (Jennifer taught me this: double the C temperature, subtract 10%, add 32 and you have the Farenheit.  So 8 x 2 = 16, 16 – 2 = 14, 14 + 32 = 46 Farenheit.  Not very warm.)

We arrived in daylight and snow

When we arrived in the afternoon, we moved into a very pleasant guest house where we have a room and bath.  There’s a desk at the perfect height for typing, so we are finally getting some blogging done.  Heinz and Silvana had the room down the hall from us.  We were the only people in the house, so we could meet out in the hall where tables were set up, to talk and eat.

First, we went out to get bathing suits for David and me, since we

A wide choice of bathing suits

had forgotten to pack them. But there were hundreds to choose from, so that task was quickly completed. BTW, the word on the awning over David is MASSAGE in Slovenian.  You probably remember that C = S.  The star letter is a soft G. See, it’s easy to read Cyrillic. But we were just as glad to find that most writing in Hungary is in Latin letters.
That evening we went out to a roadside restaurant, where, again, we were the only guests there.  Heinz is amazed at the lack of tourists here.  Apparently, just before Christmas is the high season and the place is usually jammed.  Well, lucky for us, we have it almost all to ourselves.
The next morning we HAD to go swimming in the hot lake.  Part of it is inside

Note the steam rising from the lake in front

the spa and the rest is out where the temperature was 2C.  I stayed in, but David didn’t come in far enough and dove into the lake looking for us.  He says he saw someone waving to him, so he started off swimming across to meet them.  But because of the mist rising, once he got into the water, he couldn’t see anyone.  So he swam from the spa to one raft and then to another before he decided to swim in to the inside part of the lake.  By this time I’d gotten concerned about where he was so I climbed out of the lake and was walking on the platform above when David looked up and saw me.  So we were reunited in the the warm pool.  Much better.  They have what they call an underwater massage on one side of the lake.  So you get into line and a bell rings (hark to the chimes, come bow your head) and everyone moves one place along.  Finally you are at the first place and a strong blast of warmer water hits your ankles.  Then after 2 minutes, it chimes again, and your calves get the massage,.  And so on until it reaches your shoulders and you are finished with the massage.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I went back to the beginning for another go.  It was great.
Then we went for dinner and H&S took off for Vienna (he had to be at a meeting there early in the morning, and snow was forecast overnight).  David and I went back home to sleep.
There’s a great advantage in making your own breakfast–you don’t have to get up at any particular time.  So we scheduled a foot massage for 10 a.m. and had to get up anyway.  But it was definitely worth it.  The way they work it, is that you get your massage and then if, and only if, you pay for some time in the spa, you get an extra hour free.  So we had wonderful foot massages (my feet felt like they were hitting the ground evenly for the first time in days) and then went down to the Wellness Center.  Four temperatures of saunas (we did the middle two @ 83C & 55C), a tepid resting room, and an icy plunge pool (which we each went into up to our ankles and then decided we weren’t there to suffer).  Then into the jacuzzi, which, surprisingly, wasn’t particularly hot.  But it had a lot of bubbles, so it felt good.  Then back to the saunas.  Then back to the pool.  Finally, we got hungry, so we switched over to the lake side where there is a snack bar kind of thing.  I went into the warm lake again, but David decided to opt for sitting at the bar relaxing.  When I got there, I ordered a sausage and he got an exploded Doner kabob (sliced lamb, bread, and several kinds of salads).  Very good too.  That place is in every item cheaper than the world outside.  And good. Wish we’d known that before we bought our bathing suits.  Ah well.
So we left about 2:30, leaving us enough time to walk around the

The front of this house is actually flat

town before sunset.  And then we went back to the apartment and fixed outselves a light supper and hit the bed.  Oh, we’d made a reservation for a full massage the next day, but not until 1 p.m.
When we got up it was just after 9, so we figured we had all the time in the world.  We checked our email, had a leisurely breakfast, then David looked at his (new, working) watch and said we had about 15 minutes to get there.  So we did.  Lovely massage.  Sort of halfway between what we’d been getting in Skopje and what we’re used to in Alameda. We also remembered that this was the Western part of the Balkans, so hopped into the car to a nearby Tesco HiperMart for some shopping for things unavailable in Skopje. We got a Braun electric toothbrush (ours had died) a good frying pan, large sheets, and a number of little things, plus all the goodies for breakfast for the next few days. (Problem is, the trunk of the car is beginning to get filled. Where will we put the suitcases?) Another stroll through town in the snow, and on ourThe Oldest Wine Cellar in Hevizlast day we found the “oldest Wine Restaurant in Heviz” which sounded touristy, but turned out to be a lovely place with a wine-knowledgable waiter who matched our dinners with a lovely red wine. We also got from our apartment manager access to the staff washing machine & dryer, and emptied our dirty clothes bag, just as we werre running short. All in all, a relaxing, healing time – and still mind-blowing to crunch through frozen ice & snow for our swims/saunas/jacuzzi outings. The highest temperature we experienced was 8C, and the lowest about -7C, and we were comfortable throughout. The last morning Daniel came by for the rent (Euro 135 ($180) for 5 days! – wow. and we picked up David’s new moleskin pants & Elizabeth’s green wool skirt, and headed for Slovenia, where we got another surprise- no border controls. We inched past a closed booth, stopped at a Bank, and asked “Where do we show our passports?”, and everyone laughed. Slovenia is supposed to be the richest and most Westernized of the former Yugoslavia republics, but we had no idea of what to expect.

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