The ancient Greek poet Homer called old age “loathsome,” and William Shakespeare termed it “hideous winter.” So it is no wonder since the beginning of time, people searched the globe for ways to restore their youth.
But it was the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon that explored the new world for the actual fountain of youth and ended up in what is now known as St. Augustine, Florida in 1513.
He was not alone, there has been many historical accounts of rich men searching for ways to extend their lives, and yes find the mythical fountain of youth.
The fact remains, we still search for ways to combat the aging process, or slow it down. Skin creams, vitamins, exercise; we know a healthy lifestyle with less alcohol, and no smoking can increase our lives dramatically.
While scientists try to isolate the cancer and obesity genes (the leaders in early death) us average Joes try many different ways to stay looking longer for as long as humanly possible. From cosmetic surgery, to yoga and ways to combat stress, to antidepressants, to saunas and dieting regimes.
Where we are from in British Columbia Canada we have hundreds of natural hot springs. Our favourite is called Harrison Hot Spring that attracts thousands of tourists every day to soak in the mineral rich waters. No stranger to swimming in these waters, especially with my family affliction, rheumatoid arthritis, I will try anything for a little bit of relief. Living in a temperate rainforest such as the Pacific Northwest along the coastal region, the cool damp temperatures inflames my arthritis symptoms and is part of the reason why we moved to warmer climates.
Hungary also has many springs, and that’s why they say, “Poke a hole in Hungary and you will find hot water’. This is because much of Hungary is located on a thin volcanic crust.
Héviz is the largest thermal lake in Europe and the second largest in the world, although the largest is too hot to use and doesn’t have healing properties as Hungary’s Hévis. (47,500 square metres (511,286 sq ft) in total area). The flow of water is very strong and the lake completely replenished itself each day. The waters are reported to be beneficial to patients suffering from rheumatic diseases and locomotor disorders, among others. There is a thriving health tourism industry in the area, surrounding their Fountain of Youth.
The fauna and flora are unique in Lake Hévíz due to the temperatures 33-38 in the summer 26-28 in the winter and chemical composition of the water, which is slightly radioactive and contains reduced sulfur compounds as well as oxygen. Bacteria is the dominant life form in the lake and possibly the cause of the curative effects.
We spent five hours dipping in and out of the thermal waters, the children by our sides. My skin felt so soft and smooth after, and we were very relaxed after a day in the water. We even braved the exterior waters where a few visiting Russians who had the courage to join us! That left our family ready for bed. It definitely exhausted us, but my swollen eyes (that were bothering me since arriving to Hungary) were finally gone. The exterior water wasn’t hot but definitely warm, while inside the facility, the water was much warmer like a warm bathtub and set up like a solarium to hold in the heat.
Heviz the olden days
In the olden days, people were sent by their doctors to Héviz for 2-6 weeks at a time for long-term benefits of the healing waters. Men and women bathed separately.
You couldn’t feel the cold of winter or the falling snow on the thermal lake. The vegetation blooms year round, ducks and animals thrive on and near the lake. Héviz healing waters is truly a fountain the youth.
A family pass is 2900 forint for two adults and one child, plus 1000 per child after about for approximately 12€ for 5 hours or 1500 forint or 5€ per family member for 2 hours. We had homemade Hungarian food in the cafe on the grounds for 2€/plate.
The thermal lake was full of people, mostly Russians but everyone seemed happy to be there. The warm waters soothed, the Hungarian cuisine soothed my soul and I found the Héviz people warm hearted and lovely. I will return to Héviz, this I promise.