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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Visiting the bathhouses of Budapest, Hungary

Mermaid or not, I am happiest surrounded by water. When I travel, I chase waterfalls and hop along rivers and bathe wherever I am allowed (even sometimes where it is not). This is why I wanted to visit the East European city of Budapest in Hungary.

I came all the way to Hungary from California on a 9 hour flight with a day long layover in Sweden- plus all the expectedly unexpected hassels of transit -to visit some the many ancient Turkish bathhouses. 

It took only four full days of bathing for me to begin seeking out, then passing by, the yet unexplored bathhouses merely as an observer because I was all bathed out!

The most elaborate bathhouses are now extentions of two hotels.  Gellért Thermal Bath & Széchenyi Thermal Bath both offer full Spa services and are riddled with bus loads of tourists. While I architectural romance alone makes me want to visit again and again, you can expect to be at the mercy of a lot of noise in a very social atmosphere. 

As a solo traveler without a group to interact within, I found this atmosphere to be quite mundane. For the most part, people were not interested in meeting a stranger and males always interpreted my friendliness as much more.

The pinacle of my bathing experience in Budapest was a small local thermal pool on the Buda side of the Danube river. Known as Király fürdő, it was built in the second half of the sixteenth century during Ottoman rule over this region.

Király thermal bath hasn't been restored to the extent of other more touristed bath houses, possibly because it is still somewhat a secret and located off the beaten path. I imagine the multitudes of visitors must make extreme demands upon the old architectural beauty.

Beyond my romantic notions of how the cultures of time's past would enjoy these places is my fascination of the architectural engineering which has withstood thousands of years of use. Every bathhouse had creatively integrated ventilation into its design as well as overflow filtering. 

The simple cleanliness practice of puddles outside the pools to gracefully rinse everyone's feet as they walked in and out is brilliant. 

Alongs the outsides of every pool is a small canal which channels the water that spills out through a fountain like system keeping everything contained. 

The sauna's have a series of doors which open into hotter and drier climates to choose your space of desired heat. This always serves as a sound barrier for different visiting social groups. 

Many times I felt as though I was wandering among labyrinthian mazes as each room opened into another bathing house complete with steam & dry sauna, hot and cold thermal pools as well as lounging space.

 This is testament to the importance bathing held in cultures of our ancient past. The benefits of it are well known to myself. So if you desire to find your own personal fountain of youth consider learning from some.of the World's oldest cultures. But please, also consider the benefits of this practice in contemplative silence. In my personal opinion that is an optimun ingredient to rest, rejuvenation and relaxation!

Monday, July 29, 2019

Bohemian travels, Budapest Hungary 2019

I won't pretend to know what I'm talking about when I say, "Bohemian traveler." However, I do lay claim to a certain romantic ideal I beleive this term can stand upon. It is precisely defined by the recent excursion I made into Eastern Europe as a traveler from the Northern Sierra Mountains on California. 

You see, I beleive my unqiue bohemian experience is directly related to my Western heritage and all the experiences which have made me what I am today. 

Sitting upon my bed in an early twentieth century apartment building in Budapest, Hungary surrounded by stained glass and tall single pane windows casting high views of the architectural magnificent cityscape all around me is an epitome of what 'Bohemian' means to me.

Throughout my week-long stay in Budapest, I not only enjoyed my elegant apartment on the edge of district VIII but also the local life in a plentitude of cafes, pubs, bistros and Vintage Antiques!

This little antiquarian surprised late one night when I was wandering back to my airbnb in the rain. I had just dashed out of a downpour (the third of the day so I was bit exhausted of howling into the storm and then laboring to dry out) into a little restaurant that is not on google maps. 

It is located in a little square and sandwhiched between a few other pubs with shared outdoor seating.

Now, one of the things I will probably never get used to in Europe is that whenever I sit outside to dine in the fresh air I am always going to be tormented by smoking neighbors whilst I try to enjoy the fragrances of my flavourful foreign fare and eat.

At this particular place, I enjoyed the most rewarding quail egg chicken soup nourishment with the solitary red ale on tap I have thus far found in Budapest. Then on a full tummy, with lazy goodbyes to a breif friendship with a Canadian couple who commiserated with me our finding of the lack of open kindness to travelers in Hungary, I departed into the night towards 'home.'

That is is when I saw a little black fedora. Yes. I already own a couple at home, which I was reluctant to leave behind for my journey (but wished I had left home for my windy excursion in Iceland 2018). 

When I returned the next day with smaller bills, the fellow who owned the rummage shop told me I was a young Audrey Hepburn and that made my day.

This very morning I set out into my lical district to discover coffee and wander about, being as I'm a bit tired of bathing (see my recent post  on Turkish bath houses). 

I found a lovely little vintage shop with a loft so stuffy I didn't even take pictures but I was ready to buy up most their inventory if I'd had any room in my carry-on luggage.

Breakfast following a delicious corner stand coffee latte was at Lumen which was a very hip atrium style restaurant with a variety of foliage, shade and a menu. 

I was so pleased with my traditional Hungarian breakfast of salad greens, Prosciutto ham, sausage, hard boiled egg, toast and finely sliced red onions with a tomato. It took me all morning to enjoy this with a variety of lovely non-alcoholic drinks.

One of the most pleasing aspects of this little mico-region I am staying in Hungary is the environmental conviction similar to my native culture in Nor-Cal. The friendly sinage in the bathroom asks you to think of the trees if you use a towel and take only what you need.

To me, bohemian isn't only a catch phrase to tag a certain fashion sense. It is a way of life which not only treasures artistic heritage and beauty, but values mindfulness as a way of preserving cultural treasures.

How have you made sure your cultural footprint cannot significatly change what is timeless?

Saturday, October 1, 2016


"May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, 
enough trials to make you strong, 
enough sorrow to keep you human 
and enough hope to make you happy." –unknown

Today is a long train ride to France. I am moving into a daydream, on an all-day ride from Florence, Tuscany in Northern Italy, to Marseille, on the coast of Southern France. Life is exceptionally interesting and I'm amazed at how often I surprise myself.

There is a quality of naturally occurring acceptance, present in my traveler-self. I feel as if I am continuously outside of my own box but within the limitations of the foreign atmosphere which surrounds me. 

Traveling provides a sense of a bigger picture, even when personal tragedies arise. No longer does argument or heartbreak pose disruption. Instead, my inner strength stems from a healthier feeling emotion, like tidal waves carrying myself onto a different shore. Then, each moment after, this transformational sensation of surrender to elements out of my grasp break my soul wide open. 

I am cultivating a self-assured confidence that releases habitual self-doubt, providing within myself an acceptance of the Oneness holding me to her breast. My choices become reflections of the growing crush I have upon my personal journey. 

Sands of time continue lapping at my consciousness, they are undulating a growing sense of unconditional love of Me. All Alone and still, also All One. I am a part of this world water as well as the earth under my footsteps. Out of place, far from home but curious and gentle. Simultaneously, familiar and foreign. I travel on.

"Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet" -unknown

Please share in the comments below, what far away places you have explored on your own?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Storm sojourn

A video posted by Tamara Jean (@danceupontheearth) on

It was almost dark, but I decided to run down the three flights of stairs out into the street as the rain continued to flush the Mediterranean air with her blessing. I wanted more strawberries. 

There is a lovely little grocery just a few buildings down from my apartment and it is open usually from morning until 1, then again around 4 until after dark. When I popped my head under the outdoor cover, I noticed the tiny shop was full of people. I also didn't spot any strawberries left and I really didn't want to stand still and wait in the stormy evening chill. So I sped off into the coming night, taking the ancient, steep stone stairway down to the next street.

I noticed the high walls surrounding me, blocking the wind and I felt warm.

Then I skirted along the cliff side for perhaps a half mile to the slightly larger supermercado. The elderly man at the counter greeted me at the door and let me in. The strawberries at this shop are always more red and ripe than what I find anywhere else so I collected two bins. When I inquired about viño, he sent me downstairs.

 I was given a personal tour of all the local vintage wines, with an authentic atmosphere of underground stone chambers, shop dogs play barking deeper in the interior, and of course dust on every label which we wiped clean.

I had a lovey walk home again, along the sea cliffs of Italia in rain which didn't get me wet. My arms cradled two bottles of the vintage wine, grown from the ancient lineage of grapes upon these same European steppes. 

I walked quickly, breathless in the early night air- dodging cars into the tall stairways that took me up up up into the pearly stars creeping from behind the clouds of the stormy sky.

When I walk these same streets by daylight, there are always jovial hellos and compliments hitting me from every angle. I hear the whispers and the toss of the language echo in my ears. 'Ciao bella!' Is like a blessing that curls and cascades like a grapevine that tangles in my hair. I'm in a maddening daze of Spanish and French sounds reacurring from my past, which haunt me as my tongue clicks to hit this more lively Italia beat, 'Bongiorno (Bone-Juor-Noe)" I try to slur it to the common upbeat. 'Bonasera,' ' Gratzie!' Every phrase a lyrical melody.

This land is made of cliffs, where each home is built into the seaside, cascading up out of stone-rocky walls, towering into steepled gardens of lemon, orange, pomegranate and olive trees. I peak between each crack in the 400 step high staircases. There are villas and courtyards with fountains and mosaics and painted tiles, ceramic pots and sculptural art. I see lettuce in rows and tomatoes vining through the gates.

The addresses are set into the stone walls upon glazed tiles which state the family title, like casa de Giovanni and the streets become these names and the people are these places.

The locals are all very kind to me here, even popping their heads out the shop doors as I briskly walk past and flatter me with English phrases like, "Your look is very nice!" And, " Hello, you are welcome here!"

Life is be brimming with the unexpected, especially if we each allow ourselves to open our personal doors. Please remember to practice self love and acceptance and not get boggled down into fear. 

Do what you can to make life special and magical each moment and this vibration will permeate out into time ripples that will surely change us ALL.

Use your energy to focus on the positive possibilities that are all equal options in our midst. I know we can do this. Love is the most powerful force, when we truly know how to practice and love every single moment of it.

Please share with me the opportunities you are choosing to embrace in your life right now!

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