Over the last four days I have been doing my fair share of sightseeing, but that is for a different post. I’d like to talk a bit about the nightlife in Budapest. What is an architectural wonderland by day can become a sleepless maze of activity in the pubs, clubs, and ruin bars by night.
3 out of the last 4 days I’ve been at Szimpla Kert. It mainly has tourists, but would say its by far the coolest spot I’ve been to while in Budapest. There is a main dance floor indoors, which contains two side rooms. Each side room has couches and chairs where you can smoke shisha or have a few drinks with some friends. If you continue venturing further the remains of the building deteriorate and there is an outside portion of the bar. There is also a 2nd story containing all sorts of different rooms and even one with a secondary dance floor and DJ. The hanging garden mystifies the floor below, but beneath the canopy lays all sorts of joy and love being spread.
If the vibe and extent to which this ruin bar is completely international with a plethora of colorful people isn’t the coolest part than it is certainly the decor on the walls. You see old cassettes, tvs mounted with all sorts of trippy light patterns, what I mistook for R2D2 was actually a hair blower, bicycles– anything you can think of will likely be hanging on the walls somewhere. The grafiti is spread everywhere from the walls to the bathrooms. My friend from France said it was nice to be wished a pee via grafiti while going.
On different nights I went there was different music. Two nights ago the DJ solely played latin music which I honestly couldn’t have been more in love with. Latin music gets your hips moving and the smiles flowing through the crowd. The latin night was actually St. Patty’s day. Go figure.
Over the nights here I’ve met a couple couch surfing Frenchies, two gorgeous marketers of Crete Greece, the chirping football bosses of Cambridge University, who for the first time on this trip I actually got to discuss the phrase ‘Orwellian’ with, and also finally had some much needed bromance. Oh lets not forget the fellow Michiganders transplant into New York who work in publishing which enlightened me on the phase of creating novels and getting published.
On one of the nights I had gotten into trouble and was in a pretty morbid mood. Don’t want to get into it, but I stumbled upon a hole in the wall adjacent to the Danube and met Attila, the bartender on my right. Attila might be one of the most genuinely interesting guys I’ve ever met. He had previously been in theatre, owned a night club, and is now working as a bartender because the club didn’t go as planned.
From his experience as a nightclub owner, his close friend had gave him a USB with different playlists; swing, latin, which sounded more like tech house and totally reminded me of the group Chus y Ceballos, and even trance! We discussed lost loves, I even smoked some cigarettes, something I might do once a year depending on if its with the right person, and jammed out to his friends’ dope beats!
As much respect as I had for him I wanted to buy him a shot, so we started having shots of Finlandia, when Oliver, far left, came in. Oliver owned a gay Karaoke bar called Why Not as well as restaurant on this road and they were good friends. He knew that the night would be a bit of a rager, so brought back many slices of bread for us with many different dipping sauces. One was made from paprika and goat cheese which was by far my favorite, and sadly I don’t remember the descriptions of the other two, but the paprika goat cheese was my favorite.
This night was actually the most memorable night I experienced in terms of profundity to encapsulate something I know, but sadly fail to apply to my own life. Miracles happen when you least expect them to. I was distraught walking home after I had been a bad Pharaoh, and didn’t expect to have such an incredible night with such genuinely fun and interesting people 100 yards from my hotel.
Last night I had decided to go into a spot I walked by multiple times just to see what was going on. I checked my coat and found a massive group dancing away to some deep house. At first I simply moved from side to side, but my future friends Vincenzo and Vincenzo got me to lose my restraint, and finally DANCE. Now when I say DANCE, I don’t mean motioning back and forth like a wave in the ocean, but I mean sliding and gliding and cutting shapes in a circle of applauding Italians. Viva Italia!
I met the Vincenzo’s as well as some extremely sweet new friends; Federica, Rita, and Irene. There was a minor language barrier, but thats what dance is for. Joy and appreciation can always be shared while dancing. I found out that they were on a school trip from Napoli and chaperoned, which reminded me of my first trip to Europe, which included Barcelona, Provence, and ended in Paris, 8 years ago. For a brief moment I felt a bit old, but finally real-eyes that age is point-less and that we are all headed towards the same destination, so should appreciate each moment regardless of the circumstances.
I told them of my favorite student, Enrico, a 70+ year old lawyer with many travel experiences who would blurt out the most random inappropriate and chauvinistic things, but could get away with it because of his charisma and how old he was. He told me that if I were to go to Italy that Milan should be my destination. My new bro Geanluca told me that Napoli would be a better destination because of all the friends I now have. I couldn’t disagree with that logic. A new item added to my travel bucket list.
I wish I had more photos from this night and was more proactive in asking my friends to take more, but at the same time is it really necessary to photograph each fleeting moment? Not having a phone has increased my consciousness and helped me pay attention to much I would have missed had I been aimlessly clicking away. Viva Italia and gracie for a truly amazing night to all of my new friends!