By ANNA SYLAGYI
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) – Inflatable pools are the new must-have in Budapest as residents of Hungary’s sprawling capital struggle to stay cool amid one of the hottest summers in the country’s history.
Swimming pools have appeared everywhere: in shared open spaces outside apartment buildings, on small balconies, but also in the backyards of suburban homes where the surrounding vegetation cannot mitigate the heat.
To stay calm, Budapest residents have been fleeing to relatives who have a house in the wooded suburbs or air conditioning at home, sometimes sharing living space with up to a dozen other family members.
Some, like Barnabas Kantor, get carried away with their work. The 29-year-old social media executive has been working on his phone for days while sharing an inflatable pool with his wife and sister-in-law. The sisters set up the pool outside their parents’ suburban home, where the whole family has been staying for weeks to escape the urban heat.
In the city itself, families with young children tend to stay in their air-conditioned apartments during the hottest part of the day, venturing onto their balconies only after the sun sinks low in the sky to let the youngsters play in the water
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But the rules for the preservation of old buildings in the historic center of Budapest make it impossible to install air conditioning. So the owners of the otherwise precious apartments there spend their days in dark rooms, in front of electric fans.
Water hoses, another relatively cheap and tried-and-true means of staying cool on long, sweltering days, are also making a big comeback and are especially popular with kids and pets.
Hungary has experienced several heatwaves since mid-June, with daytime temperatures reaching 40C (104F) and staying high overnight. The country recently broke the record for the hottest night ever, when a temperature of 25.4 C (77.7 F) was recorded in Budapest on July 26.
The previous record of 24.6 C (76.3 F), recorded in the city of Szeged, stood for 128 years.