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At smelly source
Mineral-water aficionados or those with health problems should head for drinking halls (ivócsarnok), where they can taste the water at its warm and sulphurous source. It’s an acquired taste, like drinking a stink bomb; pinch your nose and toss it quickly down your throat. Some find that chilling the water makes it more bearable.
The Rudas ivócsarnok (beneath Erzsébet híd, on the Buda side) sells glasses for 25Ft; the marble-lined hall is filled with pensioners supping korsós (half-litre mugs) and chatting as if they were down at the pub. The Rudas offers three of the mildly radioactive waters: Hungária is good for stomach and kidney problems, water from the Attila spring helps those with bronchial, stomach, intestinal, gall-bladder and liver ailments, while Juventus is good for high blood pressure, rheumatism and even premature ageing!
The Lukács Baths have a drinking market set in a stylish stone structure near the entrance. The water is effective for treating stomach and kidney problems. At the southern side of the Széchenyi Baths you’ll find an ivócsarnok in an elegant pavilion (built in 2003) called the ‘Szent István forrás’ (spring). A korsó costs just 18Ft, and reputedly assists with nervous stomach problems, chronic gall-bladder disorders and inflammation of the kidneys.
A new addition to the family of curative waters gushes outside the Dagály Baths from the mouth of a gargoyle named ‘Well of Peace’. A group of elderly men surrounds the fountain, one by one filling plastic bottles from the steaming pipe. ‘My wife drinks this water every day,’ says one, ‘and the best thing is it’s free.’