November 15, 2017 – Day 59 & Nov 16&17

Vienna to Budapest – 240 km (train). 35175 Fit Bit steps

If Venice is the City of Light, and Vienna, the City of Music, Budapest is the City of Baths. The city earned this title in 1934, but its rich spa heritage dates back to prehistoric times. Sitting on more than 120 hot springs, Budapest’s spa culture is alive and well. We decided to try the Gellert Baths (Gellért gyógyfüdö), built in 1918 in lavish Art Nouveau style on the Buda side of the Danube. Partly destroyed by a bomb in WWll but since restored to its original splendor, the baths are an experience, with eight geothermal pools (one outside) ranging between 19oC and 40oC, indoor and outdoor swimming pools including a wave pool (summer), steam baths, dry and steam saunas and cold-dive pools. Massages and various curative treatments are also offered. Unfortunately, massages were booked up beyond the time of our stay, but we left the baths feeling well-soaked and relaxed.

In our brief wanderings along the Danube and in the old town, past the 14thC Royal Palace (Budavári palota) on the Buda bank of the Danube and the imposing Parliament of Budapest on the Pest side, completed in 1896 just before the 1000th anniversary of the founding of Hungary, we saw evidence of Hungary’s tumultuous history, not the least in the 20th C. In the gardens of the Great Synagogue (Dohány utcai Zsinagóga), completed in 1859, are monuments to victims of the holocaust and non-Jews who died helping to protect others. Nearly 440,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to death camps and thousands more were murdered or died from maltreatment. Not far from the synagogue, a 2005 installation. Shoes on the Danube, commemorates the 3500 people who, between 1944/45, were shot by the Arrow Cross militia on the banks, their bodies left to float away down the river. Sites also honoured Raoul Wallenberg and many others who saved the lives of tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary from German Nazis and Hungarian Fascists. The tumult continued after WWll when the country became a satellite state of the Soviet Union and when the 1956 revolution was brutally suppressed. We were reminded of this recently reading the novel Afterlife of Stars by Joseph Kertes.

Parkinson’s Disease note:
A study from Hungary showed that 43% of informal care for PD patients was provided by family members or volunteers and they contributed 43% direct costs. It concluded that in Hungary, PD related disability mainly burdens the patients’ families, and not the health and social care system.
Another study showed that PD represents a significant burden for the health insurance system and that drug treatment is the major cost driver.
So, disability related costs are covered largely by families, volunteers and others so that they are not accounted for as a major driver of costs to the public health system. It is interesting to note that these findings have parallels in the UK where families of people with PD are £16,582 worse off each year compared to others.

Medical History note:
We passed Semmelweis University, the oldest medical school in Hungary. Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis contributed to reducing maternal deaths in the 1800’s by promoting hand washing by physicians with chlorinated lime solution. In general, the medical profession rejected his ideas as it implicated them in the cause of illness and mortality! It was not until after his death and the acceptance of the germ theory of infection that he was shown to have been correct.

Coffee note: Mantra Coffee 9/10 +

Eastern Europe Actual Route
Lisbon to Auckland Actual Route

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