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Feeling cold? Sweat in the Valyo sauna bus by the Danube river

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  • Bagi László

21/01/2015 1.00am

Last week, a strangely shaped bus with steamy windows appeared in Budapest: the sauna bus of Valyo (an acronym for Város és Folyó Egyesület" which means "City and River Association"). It will park at various spots along the Danube riverbank for a few weeks. Although the reservations have just begun, there is hardly any free spots left, which is quite understandable, since this is a great idea and even better fun.

We recognised the sauna bus from afar thanks to it strange shape and nice steamy lighting. The Steyr airport bus had earlier been used at Budapest's airport. Chairperson of Valyo, Miklós Tömör, bumped into it by accident: "I was just looking for something on a site, I don't remember what, but it certainly wasn't a bus," he says with a smile.

Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest

In the end, they saved the vehicle from the wrecker. A lengthy renovation followed with about 15 people working on it for 3 months.

Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest

Stepping aboard the bus, you are hit by the smell of the wood-fuelled stove. It is recommended that you rent the bus with about 4 to 6 other people. When you arrive, the staff help you with everything, before leaving you to yourself - you can freely adjust the temperature with the help of the logs provided. Though the windows steam up fast, you still have a vague view: the panorama of the lamp-lit evening banks is unforgettable.

Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest

The experience is not an overly expensive one: the fee - after reservation - is 10 000 HUF for 1.5 hours, which, divided among say 6 people, is about the price of a movie ticket.

The service comes with the necessary amount of wood, essential oils and towels; you can change inside the bus and shower outside.

Despite the huge interest, Valyo doesn't plan to make the sauna bus a permanent service - instead this is part of an ongoing campaign. "The sauna is a means, by which we take people down to the Danube," Miklós Tömör says. This year, you can find the bus parked at four locations (by Gellért Square, the Buda-end of Margaret Bridge, Szent István Park and the Chain Bridge) over the course of six weeks.

Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest

If you miss out this year, you'll have to wait until next winter. At other times of year Valyo uses the bus for other projects focused on reinforcing the bonds between the city and the river. The message is clear: the riverbanks hold unmissable experiences, and not only in the summer. All it takes is a few creative ideas...

VaLyo Part
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1051 Budapest, id. Antall József rakpart
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