Hungary - Hungarian Baths And Resorts
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
In Hungary there are great quantities of unearthed riches, and not only in the form of gold. These riches are the mineral waters that abound in the country and have been the natural medicine of the people for many years. Water in itself was always worshiped by the Hungarians in the earliest ages, and they have found out through experience for which ailment the different waters may be used. There are numbers of small watering-places in the most primitive state, which are visited by the peasants from far and wide, more especially - those that are good for rheumatism.
Like all people that work much in the open, the Hungarian in old age feels the aching of his limbs. The Carpathians are full of such baths, some of them quite primitive; others are used more as summer resorts, where the well-to-do town people build their villas; others, again, like Tatra Fured, Tatra Lomnicz, Csorba, and many others, have every accommodation and are visited by people from all over Europe.
In former times Germans and Poles were the chief visitors, but now people come from all parts to look at the wonderful ice-caves (where one can skate in the hottest summer), the waterfalls, and the great pine forests, and make walking, driving, and riding tours right up to the snow-capped mountains, preferring the comparative quiet of this Alpine district to that of Switzerland. Almost every place has some special mineral water, and among the greatest wonders of Hungary are the hot mud-baths of Postyen.
This place is situated at the foot of the lesser Carpathians, and is easily reached from the main line of the railway. The scenery is lovely and the air healthy, but this is nothing compared to the wondrous waters and hot mire which oozes out of the earth in the vicinity of the river Vag. Hot sulfuric water, which contains radium, bubbles up in all parts of Postyen, and even the bed of the cold river is full of steaming hot mud. As far back as 1551 we know of the existence of Postyen as a natural cure, and Sir Spencer Wells, the great English doctor, wrote about these waters in 1888. They are chiefly good for rheumatism, gout, neuralgia, the strengthening of broken bones, strains, and also for scrofula.
On the premises there is a quaint museum with crutches and all sort of sticks and invalid chairs left there by their former owners in grateful acknowledgment of the wonderful waters and mire that had healed them. Of late there has been much comfort added; great new baths have been built, villas and new hotels added, so that there is accommodation for rich and poor alike. The natural heat of the mire is 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Plenty of amusements are supplied for those who are not great sufferers—tennis, shooting, fishing, boating, and swimming being all obtainable. The bathing-place and all the adjoining land belongs to Count Erdody.
Another place of the greatest importance is the little bath "Parad," hardly three hours from Budapest, situated in the heart of the mountains of the "Matra." It is the private property of Count Kárólyi. The place is primitive and has not even electric light. Its waters are a wonderful combination of iron and alkaline, but this is not the most important feature. Besides the baths there is a strong spring of arsenic water which, through a fortunate combination, is stronger and more digestible than Roncegno and all the other first-rate waters of that kind in the world.
Not only in northern Hungary does one find wondrous cures, it is the same in Transylvania. There are healing and splendid mineral waters for common use all over the country lying idle and awaiting the days when its owners will be possest by the spirit of enterprise. Borszek, Szovata, and many others are all wonders in their way, waters that would bring in millions to their owners if only worked properly. Szovata, boasts of a lake containing such an enormous proportion of salt that not even the human body can sink into its depths.
In the south there is Herkulesfurdo, renowned as much for the beauty of its scenery as for its waters. Besides those mentioned there are all the summer pleasure resorts; the best of these are situated along Lake Balaton. The tepid water, long sandbanks, and splendid air from the forests make them specially healthy for delicate children. But not only have the bathing-places beautiful scenery from north to south and from east to west, in general the country abounds in Alpine districts, waterfalls, caves, and other wonders of nature. The most beautiful tour is along the river Vag, starting from the most northerly point in Hungary near the . beautiful old stronghold of Arva in the county of Arva.
All those that care to see a country as it really is, and do not mind going out of the usual beaten track of the globe-trotter, should go down the river Vag. It can not be done by steamer, or any other comfortable contrivance, one must do it on a raft, as the rapids of the river are not to be passed by any other means. The wood is transported in this way from the mountain regions to the south, and for two days one passes through the most beautiful scenery. Fantastic castles loom at the top of mountain peaks, and to each castle is attached a page of the history of the Middle Ages, when the great noblemen were also the greatest robbers of the land, and the people were miser-able serfs, who did all the work and were taped and robbed by their masters. Castles, wild mountain districts, rugged passes, villages, and ruins are passed like a beautiful panorama. The river rushes along, foaming and dashing over sharp rocks. The people are reliable and very clever in handling the raft, which requires great skill, especially when conducted over the falls at low water. Sometimes there is only one little spot where the raft can pass, and to conduct it over those rapids requires absolute knowledge of every rock hidden under the shallow falls. If notice is given in time, a rude hut will be built on the raft to give shelter and make it possible to have meals cooked, altho in the simplest way (consisting of baked potatoes and stew), by the Slays who are in charge of the raft. If anything better is wanted it must be ordered by stopping at the larger towns; but to have it done in the simple way is entering into the true spirit of the voyage.