Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Gyula spa

My friends have been trying to persuade me for many years to spend my holidays in Gyula. I have already visited many parts of the world, I have seen wonderful lands and architectural monuments, I have come to know several peoples and their customs, and I have tasted in turn the dishes and beverages of as many nations. And yet I have always been amazed to hear the enthusiasm and devotion of my acquaintances returning from Gyula when speaking about this town, and to see how refreshed and invigorated they are to start once again concentrating upon their work and everyday tasks. In our conversations they kept coming back over and over again to recalling the days spent in Gyula. I must admit that I had doubts… they spoke about a friendly and sunny small town full of flowers, where parks and groves line up one next to the other, the houses, streets and squares are embellished with flowers, where hospitable and kind people live. They mentioned plenty of scenic spots, museums, exhibitions, a medieval castle, the sights of the past and present.
They praised and acknowledged the miraculous effect of the thermal water rushing up here, the beauty and singularity of the Castle Baths. They kept referring to this medicinal water as to something with a magical power, which promises recreation and reinvigoration for the tired, and convalescence and recovery for the sick.
Naturally, food and drink, too, came up as a subject. The goulash, referred to as a national dish, the stew, and of course also a series of various dishes – a part of which is already prepared by returning guests even at home following recipes obtained in Gyula – were all mentioned and talked over. And I started gathering information…
I was surprised to learn how numerous and diverse the offered accommodation possibilities are. In addition to accommodation in campsites, private homes, students’ hostels or in motels, seven hotels are available, satisfying the demand of guests with higher or with more modest requirements alike. Restaurants, confectioneries ad catering units, one alongside the other, await guests, and everybody can be sure to find pleasure here: those preferring dietary or heavy food, those fond of sweets, just like the supporters of cold beer or fiery wines; and as many visitors tell me, also the flavors of international cuisine are present. Anyone can choose dishes accustomed to at home, but menus are enriched for example by Indonesian, Greek or Chinese courses as well.
I had doubts when I heard the accounts of those returning home about the medicinal water of Gyula, and about its curative effect. Being a thorough-going, prudent person, I was first interested in the composition of the water and its components. Here is the result of the laboratory investigations: it is a scientifically supported fact – a which is proved by life and reality in the shape of people leaving the baths recovered, without their pains, and patients on the way to recovery thanks to the treatments – that the thermal water rushing up here shortens the rehabilitation period after accidents, makes it easier for patients to endure it, enhances the efficiency of complementary treatments, and thereby speeds up and makes smoother the return to the life before the trauma.
The same water brings about stoppage of the status deterioration, as well as recovery, for patients with locomotors disorders. The effect is further enhanced by the curative treatments of the Castle Baths, the specialist’s consultations available in the hospitals operating in the town, as well as by the wonderful environment of the Baths itself.
The blessed effect of the thermal well alleviates the problems of patients suffering from stomach complaints of nervous or acidic origin, and also assists those struggling with gynecological problems of inflammatory origin. It is very important that in addition to healing the body, the atmosphere, sights and programs of the town provide recreation for the soul and the nervous system; too, thereby further increasing the effectiveness of the treatment.
The Baths, of course, offer much more than that: covered pool operating both in the summer and in the winter, sauna, pools for children, swimming pool with smoothed water surface, suitable for hosting competitions, beach football ground, simple and winding water-chute to the delight of the young, up-to-date sparkling bath, established recently, and to finish this incomplete enumeration, the unique park. Yes, a wonderful dream world where grassy areas, groves, woods, as well as modern and ancient buildings constitute an organic unit, which enchants both the little ones and the grown-ups, the young and older generations, and where services and facilities are available even for a whole day’s leisure program. Besides that, the town offers plenty of further sights – as I have been told for years. Museums and exhibitions help visitors getting familiar with the Hungarian history, the past and the present, the life, customs, art and culture of this nation. In addition to the composer Ferenc Erkel, the painter Gyorgy Kohan, and the works of art of contemporary artists, visitors may also gain insight into the peasant way of life of bygone days and the everyday life of simple country people centuries ago. There are guests who come to this town for the peace and quiet, and there are tourists who come for the lively programs – my acquaintances told me, and knowing my doubts, also added – yes, indeed, this is a place where both groups can find what they have come for. Calm and charming streets, radiating a somewhat Mediterranean atmosphere in the summer, which in venues not disturbing those wishing to have a rest are regularly filled with pleasure-seekers, since Gyula is also the town of festivals. Each year folk art and folk dance programs, fire brigade band and majorette festivals are held, just like the Border Castle Evenings and different balls. The Castle Theatre of Gyula is a refreshing dash of color of the cultural scene, inviting spectators every summer since 1964 with splendid dramas, tragedies, comedies, farces, operas and operettas. From the “lighter” genres we have to mention musicals, rock operas, jazz and Dixieland festivals, musical plays, as well as folk music and folk dance performances. Nature-lovers can also find the moments’ tiny wonders: roe-deer taking care of fawns, still life of undisturbed forest clearings adorned with birds, gamboling leverets, herd of deer headed by a stately fallow buck: all this is existing reality here. Silky greensward ornamented with tiny colorful flowers, flitting brilliant butterflies, and almost untouched forests expect those who are ready to take some efforts and make a tour of the environs of the town and the neighboring countryside, on foot or on bicycle – I can already recite almost by heart what I have so often heard said. It is said that there are people who are fond of not only admiring the wildlife, but who also carry in themselves the ancient passion, the desire to take prey. Such visitors will not be left without experiences either, since this fertile area of the Great Plain keeps in store delights for them, too. Fallow deer, roe-deer, wild boars and foxes represent bigger game, but also the hare or pheasant hunts can be a lifetime experience. There are numerous opportunities to catch fish here – my angler friends have been boasting for years showing me their photos: huge catfishes of a weight that may come close to a quintal, sly old carps, fiery grass carps, silver carps of 40-50 kg, wild and merciless old pikes, breams and many other species of fish live in the depths of the waters here. I think that exploring the mysterious secrets of wild waters, stalking fish in the White Koros or the Black Koros rivers, and probing into the depths of the water of mining ponds may give the same thrill as our ancestors could experience thousands of years ago. Even those who do not go and search for fish but rather prefer luring them to where they are, can choose from many ponds where fish have been introduced in great quantity. I have seen amazing photos about the Hungarian pasta, about beautiful steeds of galloping studs, flocks of sheep, about the mirage…
You can see and become acquainted with all this; what is more, you can make a tour of the pasta on horseback or on a horse-carriage. Experienced instructors show the masterstrokes for beginners and for those just getting familiar with horseback riding, while children can take a liking to this sport by trotting on ponies. Pleasure driving on horse-carriages, highwaymen and equestrian shows, wine-tasting and sampling ancient Hungarian dishes all guarantee excellent entertainment. Those who would like to get acquainted with a somewhat broader region of Hungary could not find a better starting base for “stalking” several towns. Szeged with its Open-air Theatre, Opusztaszer with the Feszty cyclorama, Veszto-Magor with its Historic Memorial Place, Bekescsaba with its Sausage Festival, Szabadkigyos with the Wenckheim Castle offer sights that are worth visiting starting from the accommodation in Gyula. All this is very nice and attractive, I said to those trying to persuade me, but this Gyula is very far away. Everything is relative, they replied, starting from most European countries it is nearer than Greece, and yet how many visitors go there as well. What is more, it can be reached in many ways: by car, train, bus, or up to Budapest with the flights of various airlines, then from there by rented car or bus; or even the airport, situated at a distance of 6-7 km from the boundary of the town, receives air-planes after previous arrangement. Medicinal water, baths, accommodation possibilities satisfying any demand, restaurants, places of amusement, festivals, programs, theatre performances, the magic of nature, fish and game, museums, sights, in short: everything. Everything that is needed for relaxation. This is what Gyula offers. Surely the question arises in everyone whether my friends succeeded in persuading me, whether they managed to convince me to travel to Gyula. Well, here comes the point. I am writing these lines here in Gyula, and I can say in good faith that everything is just as it was described to me. The town enchants me; I have a great time here. I can recommend it with all my heart to everybody. Next year you, too, must come here and see for yourself that this is the reality, that this wonder does exist.

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