Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 3-Budapest

Today we had the opportunity to meet some Hungarian civil engineers. We were hosted wonderfully by the staff of the CE department of the Budapest Polytechnic University.
The group had another program today hosted by faculty of the Polytechnic University. First, a boat tour was presented by the professors along the Danube River. During the course of tour we were able to get up close views of five of the bridges in Budapest. The group was also told about some of the structural design of areas throughout the city along the riverbank. Following the boat tour, the professors led us on a tour of the anchor chambers for the Szechnyi chain bridge and the Elizabeth Bridge. This was an incredible opportunity, and views of a part of Budapest that very few Hungarians haves likely seen. The anchoring elements for both bridges were unique in design. For the experience at the chain bridge, each person had to descend about 100 feet using an installed ladder to reach the chamber. While in the chamber, Professor gave a short lecture of the structural elements of the design for the anchoring element. At the Elizabeth bridge, we were told about aspects of the anchoring elements by the bridge supervisor. There were approximately60-70 cable elements that support each side of the bridge. Each one of these cables is secured to a concrete bed. We were also able to see the hinged supports for the portion of the bridge located in Buda, on the left bank of the Danube. We then stopped at a café for sandwiches before heading back to the area around our hotel.
Later that night, we decided to investigate the bath culture of Budapest. Due to the heavy influence of Roman and Turkish occupation, Budapest has become famous for its many bath houses. The first house we attempted to visit is a Turkish bath house that was built in . However, on Friday nights, the bath house is men only after 6 pm. We continued on, and decided to visit the bath house at Hotel Gellert. The bath house here was built in 1918, and includes hot baths indoors and outdoors, wet and dry steam rooms, a myriad of massage opportunities, and a cold bath. Also outside is a large swimming pool that is turned into a wave pool periodically. There are parts of the bath that are male or female only, each with hot baths, saunas, massage rooms, and showers. There is also a great room with a pool and hot bath in the central part of the bath house, and all the outdoor area is open to both men and women. We had a lot of fun relaxing and refreshing over a couple hours before leaving when the bath house closed at 8 pm.
Following, we found a restaurant a short walk from the hotel. The food was very good, and everybody tried a different item so we could see as much of the food they offered that night. Following dinner, we viewed part of the night life of Budapest, walking around seeing how the city looks lit up.