More often than not, when traveling in Hungary, you will be using shower hoses, not mounted shower heads. This is a design choice I simply cannot wrap my head around. I mean, what’s the point? Sure, Amy Schumer makes a strong case for the shower hose when citing its astounding capability to reach all of your nooks and crannies—especially valid if it’s been a while since your last date—, but after spending a week exploring rural Hungary, I can say with full certainty that they are not worth the hassle. Shower hoses are always, always a mistake.
But fine. Let’s assume they are everywhere in Hungary. Fine. With that in mind, here is a rundown on showering in non-Budapest, Hungary: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
My first bathing fiasco of the week started in the small town of Aszófö, near Lake Balaton, in the Hungarian countryside. I was drawn here by a cheap Airbnb close to Tihany, one of the stops on my route, and though the Airbnb host herself made my skin crawl (a story for another time), the place was comfortable enough. When she showed me around the house, the bathroom was our first stop. She pointed out my towel, and I didn’t give it a second thought. There was a toilet. There was a shower …there was a shower, right?
Well, by my second day, it was due time I gave myself a scrub down, so I slipped downstairs to shower and realized that a couple of things were missing. First, a wall mount. There was nothing to hold the shower hose, so I would have to do it myself, gripping the hose with one hand and washing with the other. Second, a shower curtain. Without a shower curtain, there would be no standing. Instead, I had to half sit, half squat in the tub, careful to only move the shower hose along a very specific radius of angles, lest I drench the bathroom, my towel, and my clothes.
I learned that when you finish this type of shower-bath—squatting primitively and wishing you were elsewhere—you stand up, and because there is no shower curtain, it’s just you unfurling your naked self in the middle of a big empty room, much like Charlize Theron lifting herself from a bath of some non-water substance in, like, half of her movies. There may not be a curtain, but there is a mirror, and you are not Charlize Theron. Maybe it’s just more flattering to rise from a pool of milk than the water of a bath you were wholly unprepared for.
My second shower calamity came in Györ, a small city between Budapest and Vienna. Here, I stayed in a hotel. It was cramped, but again, comfortable enough. When I went to shower, I turned on the water first, figuring I would then toss my clothes on my bed while the water warmed up. But as soon as I turned the water on, the shower hose fell from the wall mount, which as it turns out, was not the right size and therefore didn’t work at all. The hose began to whip violently from side to side, blowing the shower curtain out of the way and coating the entire bathroom in a layer of spray before I could reach the spigot.
Reluctantly accepting the fact that I would have to keep the shower handle in hand, I tried once more, stepping into the shower and keeping the hose pointed directly at the ground as I adjusted the temperature. The shower curtain, I discovered, amounted to maybe half the thickness of a Party City birthday table cloth. As the water turned on, the curtain wanted nothing more than to billow in the wind and, to keep it from pasting itself to my body, I had to pin it in place with my foot. When I tried to set the shower hose down to reach for the soap, the water pressure was so strong that it shot up from the ground like a cobra in front of an amateur snake charmer. The trick to this shower was to use my feet. By pinning the shower curtain in place with one foot and holding the shower handle on the ground with the other, I could balance on my heels and use two hands to shampoo.
Strategy, it turns out, really is the key to success.