July 28, 2013
Travel Journal (Day 11)
Budapest! That’s right. We arrived in Budapest, one of Europe’s gems, at about 9:30pm last night. Exhausted after a long day of travel, most of us crashed right away, and the others did so after a trip to the bankomat (aka ATM) and late night snack. Then this morning we rose to a nice thorough tour of Budapest, which included a Brief History, Politics, Parliament Building, Palaces, Cathedrals, Synagogues, Historical Sites & Monuments, Old Town, The Danube River & Parks. Our guide, Anita, a sweet and pretty young Hungarian (though she would prefer Magyar) woman, gave us great information to think about.
Budapest is a beautiful city, full of beautiful people, buildings, and scenery. In fact, the view of Budapest is protected by The UNESCO World Heritage Committee. Specifically, this consists of the view of the Danube embankments and the Buda Castle District. I can understand why, truly. It is stunning and romantic.
It has been pretty hot everywhere we have been, unseasonably so in some cases, and Budapest is no different. So after a filling Hungarian lunch, we went back to the hostel, Central Backpack King, and enjoyed free time. Some of our group did laundry while others went shopping. Still, others just rested and napped in preparation for the evening.
Tonight we dine at Paprika, a local restaurant with really great food. Then most of us will go to the ruin pubs for a night on the town. Ruin pubs are these really cool bars. Here is the history according to our guide:
When the communists were in charge, there was often not enough money to keep buildings intact, let alone renovate. Thus, many of Budapest’s buildings fell to ruin. In the last 20 years or so, business people have been taking these ruined buildings that are unsuitable for anything else due to their dilapidation and put in different pubs. The locations are convenient, the rent cheap, and the atmosphere absolutely intoxicating. Even if you just enjoy a coffee in the ruin pubs, you will feel the magic. These are decorated differently with anything from pop culture to left over refuse to sheer randomness. Our guide told us that last year alone she estimates something like 30 or so of these ruin pubs popped up.
I have never seen anything like the ruin bars before. In some cases, they are open-air pubs because the roofs of the buildings in which they settle have long since collapsed. The other cool thing is that these can pop up anywhere, so there is always potential for a new atmosphere. Of course, this also means that the older ruin pubs can shut down at any time to move to another ruined building or just disappear. It is like a pub treasure hunt.
Though I am neither a big drinker nor a huge bar scene girl, I find the history and reuse of the dying buildings fascinating. I also really like the idea of taking something that has negative history and turning it into something new. I hope the students will also find these as fun and interesting as I do.
Tomorrow is another full day although far more relaxed and less intense as today.
Image Credit: Byelikova Oksana / Shutterstock