2012-06-08

Hungarian Thermal Baths and Practice

I'm in Hungary! I flew to Vienna and drove first to Eger and then a few days later to Budapest.

While travelling there are not many places in which I do not bring my yoga mat. I am embarrassed to say it, but it is pretty dirty too. In fact, it is so well soiled from my trips to India and using it at home that it went from being blue to a very dark blue.

This past week I flew to Vienna and drove 3 hours to Eger, Hungary just an hour outside of Budapest. Eger is a lovely old city that was once conquered by the Turks. Talk about history…it has this surreal feeling of standing still in time. Driving into Egar there are terrific  views of the vineyards in which the town is know for its fine red wines. Of course one of the locals informed us it used to be the whites! 

Either way it is a great place to visit since it also houses a very old caste dating back to the 10th century. I am a sucker for castles and love to stand at their edges and imagine what life was like. How it was, the way people lived and sometimes I even pretend that if you are really quiet you hear far off whispers from the thousands of people who have been there over time. The castle in Eger is no exception having been taken over by the Turks who ruled Eger for only a bit more than 100 years. In 1595 or so they were overruled and ownership was won by the Hungarians.

Not speaking a word of Hungarian can be fun in such a small town. The hotel people knew some English but most of them were baffled about my gestures to find out about the most important aspect. That is, the bathing areas, open pool and shared saunas. Right, shared with both men and women (not something you would find in North America). A few other differences in the hotel room itself was having the toilet and sink in a separate one from one another. And if you think about it this is actually smart. 
Eger is very well known for its healing waters, which are said to contain over 50 different elements. Every morning at the public fountain I witnessed at least 10 or more locals filling their water bottles. Some of them arrived with cases of empty bottles making it obvious that this is something of importance for them. 

In the open pool areana (still enclosed with a glass ceiling) there were 4 different saunas. I didn´t mind enjoying each one right after the other:  1) an aroma therapy sauna, 2) the ultra violet solarium, 3) the more traditional sauna and 4) the steam room. In between each of the saunas was a small pool with a bedded rock area to walk over. Good for the feet! I noticed how many people dumped ice from a near-by dispenser and into the smaller pooler. A great way to cool down after the saunas. 

Beside this was the open pool with both a Jacuzzi and a small waiting pool for dipping your toes. After relaxing a bit from the 4 saunas I also enjoyed each pool. The biggest one contained an rain shower that came on every 20 minutes. Fabulous!

While doing all of this I was not the only one of course. In the ultra-violet sauna was an older lady probably in her 70´s to my right with a gentlemen in his 80´s to my left. Because of Egar´s reputation for healing  it is said to attract an ´´older crowd´´. What I like about this is the way it reminds you of the aging process. That is, one day that could be me in my 80´s enjoying the violet rays from the sauna. Who never know....
Moving on to Budapest, this is an old city filled with the contrasts of both the trendy and the timeless. Often it has been referred to as the Paris of the East, but many say it has its own flair. Among the great architecture were the small details and things you never see in North America. That is, blankets on each chair on an outdoor door patio. How thoughtful!
Being of course true to every walk of life FASHION never disappears. I was really impressed when this lady could walk so well on the concrete. I took a picture because I also liked her shoes.

Egar: The castle, town at nightfall, healing fountain and saunas...


Dear Journal,

I'm in Budapest!

A dynamic city and I'd love to spend more time here on another trip.

Budapest photos:  Church of Our Lady, Parliament, the Chain Bridge and high-heels...





The Journey So Far

Life is an adventure and yoga is the greatest one of all. Here I share my love of Yoga, travel, practice and becoming a part-time cook. My life adventures have taken me from growing up in Toronto to living and working in South Korea to studying in India, marriage and finally closing my Yoga school of 15 years.

What I can say so far is that I truly believe that it is necessary in life to let go of one dream in order for another to be born. This might be painful to do so but it is the only way to move forward. We often believe that if our original plan does not succeed it is the recipe for failure. But what if it is the door to something new and great? The horizon is wide and life is not a straight line. This is the way I see it and my journey so far. Having also recently given birth to my first child and at 43, it is another new beginning.


ME

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Heather Morton
is a perennial teacher and devoted student of yoga. Having made 18 extended trips to India she studies with her teachers annually. In 1997 she founded and directed The Yoga Way (TYW), Toronto's only school for 6-week yoga programs and not drop-in classes. For 15 years, TYW was a part of the growing Toronto yoga community and supported many charities by offering karma classes. As a teacher she holds many academic degrees including a BFA (Fine Arts in Theatre) and a Masters of Education. With a published thesis on Yoga for Children in School, her post-graduate work was a 2-year ethnographic project in the Indian school system. Heather has produced 2 dvds, meditation cds, a backbending manual and podcasts. Freedom of the Body DVD is the first of its kind as an instructional practice to the backbends of yoga. Heather has been featured in the Toronto Life magazine, The Globe & Mail, Yoga4Everybody and other on-line sources. She contributes to MindBodyGreen, Hello Yoga in Japan and Elephant Journal. She writes to inspire and share her experiences with others on yoga as a life's practice.
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