Lured by the photos of glamorous couples looking chilled and relaxed in their fluffy white robes, clinking together chilled glasses of prosecco, I took the plunge and booked me and the other half in for a spa weekend.
I say I ‘took the plunge’ because he is one of those chaps that is not one bit into spending any sort of time with, or near, people he does not know. Furthermore, he is not one bit into spending (quite a bit of) money on things that are unknown or that he is unsure of, so I pressed ‘BOOK NOW’ with more than a little sense of unease.
Previously, we had only ever had one other spa type experience, of sorts, and I don’t think that helped his nerves with the impending trip at all…
The Szecheyni Bath Spa in Budapest was Trip Advisor’s top recommendation for our city break way back in 2013. Forgive me for not remembering every detail – I think my brain has filed most of this event under the ‘DO NOT EVER THINK ABOUT AGAIN’ part of my brain, right next to the memory of the incident where I fell over in the middle of Cambridge and ended up on the floor in Superman pose half in and half out of Subway.
Before you get to the actual baths, you must navigate a labyrinth of lockers and changing cubicles. You were given a number for the changing room and then a number for the locker that you could use – it sounded super easy and efficient until we entered the maze. The number order bore no resemblance to any numerical code that I know and made absolutely no sense to us. This was great. We couldn’t even find our way to get changed. Deciding to pool our brains together, we both looked for his numbered cubicle first. We found it.
‘In you go then!’ I said faking my cheery enthusiasm for doing something so cool as going to the spa baths in Budapest. Although, I was secretly wishing the beer tour had been our choice now.
‘I’ll see you shortly,’
Famous last words. He looked at me with fear in his eyes as I toddled off wondering if I would ever find my own cubicle – or him – ever again. He was one way; I was the other; and very nearly never the twain shall meet again.
I re-entered the warren thinking that could be the last time that I ever saw him again. Ah well.
Having successfully changed I stepped out in my bathing attire, hugging my bundle of clothes to me like a life jacket. Channelling my inner Pamela Anderson, I set off to find him. I could hear him huffing puffing and swearing in his torture chamber that was too small for his chunky 6’3 frame. He hadn’t even got his bathers on before he had stubbed his toe. It was surreal. I could hear him, but I couldn’t reach him. Each turn I made seemed to take me further away from him. My heart raced and my breath got shallower – where the hell was he?
By now Pamela was fading and I could feel the chlorinated air making me clammy. This was not cool. This was not relaxing. I turned down the next aisle of doom and I hit something with a slap, as my frustrated red cheek slammed into his sweaty chest. He looked at me, I am sure with hatred in his eyes, and I looked back at him, tears building, I wanted to get changed back into my safe and covering clothes and get out of there.
‘Come on,’ he said, ‘We’re here now. It’s OK,’ Love him. We both knew that he didn’t mean a word of it.
Please know that I am absolutely not exaggerating when I tell you that the simple act of changing and finding the first pool took the best part of an actual hour.
We entered the first pool and bobbed around in silence for what seemed like forever, until we had let the trauma of getting there pass and subside.
But this was Budapest, and this was nearly a decade ago, so it was time to dip our toes in the spa pool again.
When I told him I had booked, he plagued me with a raft of questions and statements:
‘Do I have to wear a robe?’ Yes, love.
‘Do I have to wear a robe the whole time?’ Erm, well no. Not when you are in the pool or having a treatment.
‘Do I wear my clothes under my robe?’ Just your bathers.
‘What shoes shall I wear?’ They will give you flip flop things.
‘Can I have a beer?’ When we are done.
‘What time is lunch?’ Lunchtime.
‘Will people touch me?’ Only to deliver the treatments.
‘Where will they touch me?’ Well, your head, neck, shoulders, arms, and legs.
‘What if I don’t like them touching me?’ Tell them you don’t like it.
‘Will they touch, or go near my woo-woo?’ FFS!
‘I don’t want to be rubbed up.’ What do you mean ‘rubbed up’?
‘Will you be with me the whole time?’ I hope not.
‘Do I wear pants?’ Take me back to Budapest.
I have to say after all of that, the experience was better and less stressful than Budapest, he did get his beer and no, of course, they didn’t.
He said he did not like being poked during the Indian head massage and that afterwards he felt sorer than when he went in. He also said that at one point he opened his eyes, and she was doing Tai Chi over his face. Reader – I have no idea. I had the same treatment at the same time, in the same room and I cannot fathom what he was experiencing.
Then came the mud chamber. Me and him, a load of funny smelling mud, plinky-plonky music and a light show as the fragrant steamed air wafted out around us. He sat opposite me as I was trying to be all muddily zen-ful and I made the mistake of opening my eyes to check on him. Through the haze his pink form came into focus. His eyes were squeezed shut and he looked like he was in pain.
‘What’s the matter?’
He had mud in both eyes. We were five minutes into a 30-minute entombment in the chamber.
He made a face where his mouth turned into a cat’s bum.
‘What’s the matter now?’ He had mud in his mouth.
Praise the moment the time was up, and we were released from the chamber of doom. He spent the rest of the day claiming that the mud had him all ‘hot and itchy,’
We got home and I sank a large glass of Sauvignon.
Now, that is what I call relaxing.