Finally I stopped dreaming of Arcata every night. It’s so weird. Sometimes we move our bodies in the real world, but in whatever metaphysical universe my heart was thoroughly rooted. I’ve arrived in Nepal after about a month in Europe. I spent time with family exploring Spain, ventured off with my mom to the glorious wine country and cities of France. Then I met Dana, one of my best friends in Budapest. I have a lot to catch up on, so I’ll start here!
Budapest was nuts. Beautiful streets, gorgeous synagogs, informative museums, and lovely people. My weekend there was probably one of the craziest I’ve had in a while. Dana and I met some French people, Pierre and Benoit on the flight over from Paris, and proceeded to hang out with them most of the trip.
I can’t transcribe the entire experience, but I can share with you one night. We had spent the day walking. I was feeling really close to Dana. She’s so great. She’s one of the most intelligent, beautiful, calm, and kind people I know. I shared a room with her for two years and I can still say that- which is something! We met as roommates in college, and continued sharing a room off campus the following year. I consider myself a minimalist, but she beats me 2:1! Anyway, we connected because we both loved science. I was there with her through some tough decisions, and fortunately she made it through a lot of challenges to be where she is today. She ended up transferring to the physics program at Berkeley and now works as a scientist in the top anti-matter lab in the world!
We were happy to see each other and immediately hiked up a mountain that blew us away. It was full of all sorts of treasure! A castle was chiseled into the cliff side. We stumbled upon a vast cave temple, more statues, and some of the best views ever! I had no idea I would love Budapest so much so immediately. We ended up meeting with our French friends and going out on the town that evening.
The next day we woke up early and continued exploring. I’ll leave the explanation to the photos, so that I can get to the good part of this story!
Then as evening rolled around, we made our way to this big park that’s at the edge of the city. It has castles and a lake, rivers, and old roman bath houses. We thought maybe we would go to the bath house, but weren’t sure. There was this ridiculous party that was advertised all over town. Apparently Budapest is famous for their Saturday night bath parties. But there were two problems in attending, 1. It was 65 euros and 2. it was sold out. Not that we’d pay that much anyway! But if we went before 10pm, we could do a normal session for about 20 euros. We bought two bottles of wine and walked 10 km there. We sat in the grass with a castle behind us, and a lake in front of us, listening to music and drinking. It was a sweet time. It started to get dark, so we decided to wander on.
We actually briefly tried to break into the castle. We saw a window was open and I climbed to it, but inside the window was another window, and I couldn’t go any farther.
We toyed with the idea of sneaking in to the bath house party. We decided to just go check it out. We walked towards the massive roman building until we were upon it’s steps. We entered into a big room with exits and people leaving with wet hair. Anything you spoke would echo loudly and you could feel the steam in the air. The desk was empty and an intercom voice was saying in Hungarian what I assume to be “The bath house is closing. Please make your way to the door.”
We sat and pondered for a minute, until just about everyone was out. A final security guard was holding the door, ushering the last people out, when we knew we had to make our move.
Dana pointed to a vast dark marble corridor, and tugged my arm.
“We have to hide, now.” She whispered, boldly. With a brisk walk, we dissapeared into the darkness. We came upon a room at the end of the hallway. Symmetrical, circular, with high ceilings and all marble, and four non-operating fountains in each corner. We sat in silence and listened. We heard the last of the visitors leave and the big key moving in the lock. We heard the security guard moving around the premises and I whispered.
“Well if we’re locked in here, at least these benches are comfortable.”
We heard the security guard marching down the hallway towards us and both held our breath. But he turned a knob to an office in the hallway and entered. Then there was some ruffling in the office and silence.
It was 10:00pm and the party started at 10:30pm. We decided to wait a little past 10:30pm so as not to be extra conspicuous as the first arrivals. We made a plan.
We had no idea what was through the exit gate. The gate a camera on it, and was one way. We could easily jump it, and the likelihood of someone catching us was low if we were fast enough and especially low if we changed our outfits. We drank wine as we waited for the time to pass. Then at 10:45pm, we took action.
Quick, we moved down the hall, ducking past the window of the office. We came to the main entrance foyer, it was clear. Dana was wearing my hat, and I was wearing a hoodie to cover our faces from the cameras. We jumped over the gate and were suddenly in a vast indoor changing room. Not like a regular locker room, it had cabins where people change and huge indoor pools going in endless directions. We sped through a corridor chosen at random, and then hearing a cleaning worker around the corner, jolted into a bathroom. We locked the door, caught our breath, and changed out of our clothes, into bikinis. Now all we had to do was find the exit. The party was definitely in the outdoor area…
We left the bathroom and came upon more baths, we turned corners, and I looked one way and was about to keep going.
“Wait!” Dana whispered, “An exit!”
I took a step back and there it was. Clear as day. A door. We opened it and just about screamed. Colorful lights shined across the pools. Music bumped and it was beautiful. We ducked under some caution tape and knew we were safe. We hugged in elation!! We made it!!
Then the night began. What can I say more. It was amazing. It was nuts. A ton of young people in warm beautiful baths, drinking, listening to music, having a good time. Sounds a bit like a recipe for disaster too. But I think the night was well worth the ticket price. 😉
A bit of reality. Towards the end of the night it felt more like a hunting grounds than a party. There were definitely a lot more guys there than girls, and of course many people were hoping for a little extra steam.
However, we met a really cute group of girls traveling together from the UK and shared our second bottle of wine with them, and I have genuinely never experienced a night anything close to this. It will go down in my books as one of the greatest ever. Thanks Dana!