I guess it is since i first read Enki Bilal’s Partie de Chasse that i wanted to go visit the various public bath houses in Budapest. there is a scene in Partie de Chasse where Vassili Alexandrovitch Tchevtchenko comes to Budapest during the Hungarian Revolution of 1966 to talk to Tibor Illyes, the local stalinist party leader, in a thermal pool to convince him to step down. later Illyes is found dead in the pool and officially it is said that he committed suicide. It is a fairly small scene, but it has somehow etched itself into my memory. Last week i finally had the chance to visit some of the bath houses in Budapest myself. my favorite is the Rudas, an old turkish bathhouse from 1566 that as been recently renovated (but essentially left unchanged):
If i was living in Budapest i could imagine myself spending a lot of time there (like a lot of the old fat locals do). The best thing about the Rudas is that it is open for mixed bathing till 4 in the morning on friday and saturday night (normally it is men only), which makes it an excellent last destination when having a night out (although going out with swimming shorts in you pockets feels a bit strange).
The Rudas was build in 1566 by the Turks, when Budapest was part of the Ottoman Empire, which makes me think that it is a shame that the Turks did not conquer all of Europe so they could have build places like this all over the place. Gives me one more reason to dislike the Austrians even more than i did before coming to Budapest.