A 52-meter long floating ferry, converted into a Scandinavian style spa by Sid Lee Architecture, on the St. Lawrence River provides perfect views of Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67 and BuckyFuller’s geodesic dome; as well as a lovely place to grab a bit of hot and sun near old Montreal.
Go for a treatment, or simply take the Water Circuit – a three hour package that gives you access to saunas, steam room and the whirlpools, located on the third and fourth decks. If weather permits, you can also get nice lay-down outside for some sunbathing.
There is no photo taking and severely policed, no talking rules – you are constantly remained to be quiet. This is both nice and annoying depending on your state of mind & company! The restaurant is good enough with a health oriented menu. Interestingly enough, and quite intelligently, the price varies depending day and time.
The top floor Sauna is one of the most beautiful we have been to. It is spacious, with a panoramic view of old Montreal. Bota Bota is interesting place to explore and well worth a visit. You journey from the locker rooms – in the former engine room – up to the the therapy rooms on the next deck – along side some interesting resting areas, with hammocks reclining beds. Then as you climb you get to the aforementioned hot tubs and hotter saunas; culminating on the lovely roof deck. Even in winter – a great escape!
After a slightly elongated trip, we rented a Smart Cabriolet (TINY!) and made a sun drenched bee-line to Playa del Carmen and the Hotel Viceroy to check out its design and have a quick lunch. After so many months of eating in Bogota with its fear based cuisine, what a complete joy to arrive in Mexico, where the chefs are not afraid of flavor!!
The Viceroy hotel is quite fab, nestled within a lush garden and paths describing circuitous routes between palms and flowers. As we navigated our way, guided by the lovely Fernando, to the beach-front dining area, we saw a mid-size iguana and a basilisk (water-walking lizard) – though only very very briefly before it flicked out of existence! Each room is a private cabaña with a garden whirlpool, luxurious bed, and a quite ample bathroom, including both an indoor and outdoor showers. The design is clean and poignant without being overbearing. It allowed for a relaxing atmosphere; you are the star of the show, not the hotel. The spa is extremely organic and well appointed, complete with energy capturing spiral ha-mam and a brazier of copal, a highly fragrant per-coloumbian incense used by the Mayas. The patio restaurant used for breakfast and lunch, is about twenty meters off the sea. This was the perfect introduction to the fabled Mayan Riviera as we gazed into the blue blue waters and at the attractive clientele.
We started our first meal with two Michelada’s. A Mexican favorite of beer poured with a house mix that always includes lemon juice and a salted rim. Every bar-tender also makes their own special blend, with many being sort of a beer bloody-mary. At the Viceroy, it was a mix of Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Tabasco and a local condiment called Magi (though I’m still not exactly sure what Magi is!). The Michelada is the perfect drink for hot weather, cool and refreshing; comforting and exotic! Our rapidly condensing chilled mugs were accompanied by an order of Guacamole & lightly fried Totopos (Chips). The guac had a bit of the soft white fresh cheese and the strong herb epazote. It was mashed to a perfect consistently; creamy while maintaining some chunkiness and body. Top place at the table was given to the picante: a beautiful roasted green tomatillo salsa that put the perfect tart-pepper touch onto the tongue.
We were then presented with 3 absolutely perfect fire-grilled fish tacos. The fish, common to the Caribbean, was Robalo (Sea Bass) and felt very, very fresh. Combined with mango, shallot and cabbage , while being served with habanero aioli, the tacos proved perfect vessels for the other salsas. Now, along with the fired tomatillo, we had a smooth non-spicy tomato based salsa along with another based on a chili called Xcatic.
Next came a true first in life: Molcajete, a volcanic mortar that had been baked in the fiery wood burning oven in which is a stew is served. We ordered the vegetarian version of this classic meat dish, and the translation was flawless, substituting a creamy, white panela cheese for the beef. The cheese was baked along with red, yellow & green bell peppers, cambray onion (that was first roasted over an open flame), tomatoes, carrot, zucchini, eggplant and once again the hearty nopal cactus. All of this was roasted in a tomato Gaujillo chili base that just made the flavors explode.
The Széchenyi Baths are the heart and soul of Budapest. Here one hears children giggling, lovers canoodling and old-men chatting. Truly a local hangout where you can be a part of the city, as opposed to a visitor to the city.
The Széchenyi Baths are in an exceedingly large neo-Baroque building, located on the edge of Varosliget (City Park). The same park of the Hősök tere (Heroes’ Square) and next to the Szepmuveszeti Museum (Museum) of Fine Arts and the Mucsarnok. In winter there is also an Ice Rink!
There are 3 outdoor pools! The one in the center is large & relatively cool in temperature and is used mostly for exercise (may people swimming laps). The two smaller side pools are much warmer. The far pool is quite fun and seems to be geared more towards youth, having a fast-jet spiral that draws raucus laughter out of those spinning through! The nearer pool is geared more towards sedate conversation, chess and a slightly more introspective crowd- with large gatherings of people in conversation or huddled around gaming tables. Of course there is plenty of cross-pollinating between all!
Inside, one can find Turkish-style thermal baths that contain heavy mineral spring water. There is also the normal assortment of treatments and therapies available. In summer, there is a rooftop deck open for sunbathing.
Bring swimsuit and flipflops with you. And if you go in winter – be prepared for steaming water, frigid air and to stay in the warm water for hours! (bring a robe)
Széchenyi is certainly one of the places not to miss when you travel to Budapest. Highest of our recommendations.
OPENING HOURS: 6:00am – 7:00pm Monday – Friday 6:00am – 6:00pm Saturday & Sunday (between 30th of April and 30th of September)
The baths at the Hotel Gellert may be the most famous of the Budapest bath houses and it is certainly a good example of Hungarian Secession Art Nouveau being constructed between 1912 and 1918.
The Baths at the Gellert are delightful from the entrance hall on. Once you enter, your first stop is a large pool surrounded by columns surrounded by a Solarium overlooking from the second floor balcony. Past the pool, there are the woman’s and man’s thermal bath areas. These baths are rich with mineral waters and are situated in magnificently high ceilinged tile rooms. These areas are definitely a bit more interesting and relaxing.
In the warmer months there are three outdoor pools; unfortunately they were closed for our visit in winter.
As with all the bath houses, you can also enjoy a massage or any of the many treatments offered. You can even join the local ladies with their Healing Aqua-Gymnastics class in the main pool; though while visually stunning the main pool was not large enough to accommodate the crowds the days we were there. Perhaps in the summer when the outdoor pools can draw off a bit of the crowd.
The baths at the Hotel Gellert are truly astounding in their design and scope. Yes they are a bit touristic, but they are also easy to visit and staffed with English speakers who are ready to hold your hand if needed.
OPEN HOURS: 9:00am – 9:00pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday 6:30am – 7:00pm Tuestays & Thursdays 6:30am – 1:00pm Saturday there are different days for men and women
Built in 1563 by the The Pasha of Buda during the Ottoman occupation
As you settle into the main pool and tilt your head back, you gaze up at the octagonal domed roof and the tiny circular windows that filter gentle rays of sunlight onto the stone and water. If you ever saw the original 3d modeled video game MYST, you can imagine the lighting gives and its magical atmosphere.
The main pool is surrounded by smaller baths, each with different water temperatures. The divine thermal water is piped directly from the Lukács Baths. This is a truly relaxing bathhouse – with no crowds or stress. 400+ years of stress washed away.