Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Szechenyi Baths in Budapest Turns 100

Happy Birthday Szechenyi Baths! Also known as the City Baths the Neo-Baroque and modern Renaissance style baths were completed in 1913. Located on Pest side of Budapest these are the largest medical spa baths in Europe.
The popular tourist destination has 15 indoor baths and 3 grand pools outside making it a must see attraction.
When I visited in 2007 I was extremely eager to check it out yet I was actually quite nervous about visiting the baths as I had read many horror stories on the online review sites. The accounts went from the staff being rude to attendants stealing guest's clothes and forcing them to hand over any valuables in return for their clothing. Yeah......

So I came up with this plan:
  • Wore swim suit underneath my clothes (that way that can't leave me in the buff!)
  • No jewelry (no valuables to hand over)
  • Took cash only – enough for taxi there and back and the entrance fee
  • Took  plastic laundry bag and towel from the hotel (towels are extra and there are never enough)
  • Took underwater camera – left good one in the hotel
How did my plan work?
  • Cashiers at the entrance were grumpy and made no attempt to explain the process – so study the Szechenyi Baths website before you go.
  • After the grumps at the front a somewhat nice attendant opened a tiny cubicle and waited outside.
  • Now this wasn't the cleanest place (remember they are 100 now!) so bring some flip flops in your laundry bag.
  • I  took off my outer clothes stuffed them in the bag and alerted the attendant. He locked the door and gave me a key to pin on my swimsuit and off I went!
  • Oh and don’t worry about how you look – trust me there are ALL kinds of people there!!
  • It was cool outside (October) and it was misting and it was glorious!
  • Men were playing chess in the pool.
  • I never went inside – outside was great and no need to venture in for a treatment.
  • The lap pool is cold.
  • One of the pools is medium warm – not hot.
  • The other main pool is super hot and super relaxing – I never wanted to leave it!

It was a fabulous experience and I enjoyed it immensely!!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Burns Night

Burn’s Night is the annual celebration of the Scottish poet Robbie Burn’s on his birthday – January 25th.

This is an important date to the Scottish as they are fiercely proud of their national poet and his contributions to Scottish culture. He is to Scotland what Shakespeare is to England and you quote him every New Year’s Eve when you sing "Auld Lang Syne.”

Burns nigh is celebrated with a traditional Scottish dinner of haggis and readings of Burns poetry. The Scottish flag is displayed at the celebration and there is dancing and drinking. The men wear kilts and the wear women scarves with their family’s tartan colors and pattern.

Food traditionally served:

Scotch broth or cock-a-leekie soup (chicken and leek soup);

haggis (there are even vegetarian versions of haggis!)

neeps (mashed turnips)

tatties (mashed potatoes)

cranachan (whipped cream mixed with raspberries and served with sweet oat wafers)

bannocks (a kind of bread cooked on a griddle)

Whisky is the traditional drink.

Traditionally when the haggis is served (with a fanfare of bagpipes) there is a reading of Burn’s poem ‘Address to a Haggis’ which states his ardent admiration for the dish.

I have tried all of the dishes listed above on my various trips to Scotland. I do enjoy all of them, but Scotch Broth is really my favorite. Haggis is interesting and it tastes really good, but it is hard to overcome that sensation of ‘I know I am eating something that should gross me out – but I like it!' It’s like if you have ever had Menudo (not the band – the dish made with the stomach of a cow). It is delicious but you can’t help thinking you are eating an animal’s stomach. A delicious animal’s stomach. After all it is the national dish of Scotland, and you can’t go wrong with the Scots. If you don’t believe me you should read this book.

The lovely folks over at have a fantastic page devoted to Robbie Burns including what to serve for Burns night – traditional and non-traditional, quizzes and even a Robert Burns app!

This is my menu for Burns Night:

Scotch Broth (easy to make and a favorite)

whisky (always on hand and I still have some from my last trip to Scotland)

Walkers shortbread (I can always find it in the grocery store and now I have an excuse to buy some!)

All that plus several readings from my Burns book and a listen to my Corries CD (a Christmas present direct from Scotland!)

*Holds up a wee dram of Scotch* To Rabbie Burns (aye Rabbie)!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,

And pou'd the gowan fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fitt,
Sin' auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right gude-willie-waught,
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Best of The Jet Lagged Vagabond - 2012

2012 was a fantastic travel year for me! It afforded me the opportunity to see a new US destination - Savannah, GA and a new Continent - South America. I returned to a childhood vacation spot that means so very much to me - Carmel/Monterey, CA, and I now have seen the Pacific from two different continents in the same year. 2012 was indeed fantastic.

See below for some of the best highlights of my 2012 travels and don't forget to check out my previous posts on these wonderful destinations to see what I did and where I stayed.

Bring it 2013!

Best New Place Visited – Savannah,GA






Best Views:








The Texas Hill Country


Best Hotel: Tickle Pink Inn – Carmel Highlands, CA







Best Food:

Leek and mushroom burger - Davenport Bakery - Davenport, CA



Steamed Artichokes - AW Shucks - Carmel, CA
Fisherman's Grotto - San Francisco, CA



Best Attractions:








Best Wines:

Charles Krug - California - Pinot

Joyce - California - Merlot

Laura Hartwig - Chilean - Petite Verdot

Best Costumes at DragonCon:




Best Wildflowers: Texas Hill Country


Best Street Art: Valparaiso, Chile