Budapest is a home to a unique and exciting nightlife that began at beginning of the 21st century. For many, Y2K was the end of the world and civilization as we knew it, with thousands bracing for chaos; in Budapest, it was the turning point for night life and the birth of a new era; the era of ruin pubs.
Ruin pubs, which is the exact translation from the Hungarian name are bars in the central city that were opened one after another in tenement houses and factory buildings doomed for destruction. They were equipped with rejected furniture of old community center, cinemas and grandmothers’ flats. Now they range from all different types with no specified design and no rules how to make them. Each place has a unique style and atmosphere. The Friday I arrived to Budapest I did a ruin pub golf crawl. If you knew how to play golf you knew how to play this. But even if you didn’t it was simple; basically each ruin bar, there were 9 in total had a par, par was how many sips it took you too finish your pint. For example, the first bar was a par 8, so if you took 8 sips you scored 0, if you took 2 you scored -6. Also at each bar you had to do an activity with you team. My team consisted of Robbie, Medler who was one of the staff, a guy we met and then a couple we met. Due to this awesome night of fun, Medler who was our captain; he made sure we were all together (at the beginning), became a friend. During this bar crawl we didn’t spend a ton of time at each bar with some more than others. Some of them are hugee, you could literally spend a night, maybe more exploring a different one.
1. Retox bar and hostel: This is where the night started and where we collected our team. Our team name was Tigers Balls. A cool place, it mainly consisted of a wide open room with the bar at the back and two or three side rooms to play games.
2. Instant: The second stop and my favorite. During the crawl we didn’t spend much time here and only hung out by the upstairs bar, but I went back on Sunday with Robbie and some other people and spent all night there. At this bar, the group challenge was to always have contact with one of your group members. If you happened to be here and not on the crawl it would have been an interesting site to see. Occupying a whole building itself, I think it has like 32 room, each one decorated uniquely and different from the last. It had 3 or 4 different rooms with different djs playing different types of music. It was great jumping from room to room.
3. Kuplung: A underwater themed bard hidden by a gateway next to another pub. It is covered with graffiti and strange pieces of urban art.
4. Ankert: An abandoned ruin converted into a ruin bar, the visual presence has been kept, so look the look of abandonment and run-down walls is still apparent. This was my second favorite one, it was cool.
5. Szoda: I’m not sure we made it to this one, I think we skipped it, but apparently the ground floor is a trendy cafe with retro-futuristic leather benches and 50’s style chairs with an underground bar and dance floor.
6. Fogasház: Had an awesome courtyard and a great relaxed vibe.
7. Grandio: It is an urban jungle full of plants and other decorations. I felt like I was back in Costa Rica.
8. Ellato: I think we skipped this one as well because I don’t remember anything about it. Apparently, it’s an open air pub that consists of a huge bar and a playing room for pool.
9. The Rave Cave: I can’t find any picture of this, but as you can guess it was a cave, but really a really cool underground bar with a old vaulted brick ceiling. This was the last stop and where we ended the night.
Sparty isn’t a ruin bar, but rather a portmanteau for spa party. The Sparty took place at Szechenyi bath on Saturday. The party was hosted in the outside bath with DJ’s, lazer’s and light shows. Basically a lot of drunk people in bathing suits swimming and dancing in a pool. In the center of the pool was a ring and the throughout the whole night people, including me were running around in a circle creating a whirlpool. It was so strong, if you stopped you got carried away in the current. The most unfortunate thing about the Sparty (which I heard was a new rule) was that they didn’t allow you to drink inside the pool; you had to stand on the edge. It was very cold out of the water especially with a cold beer in one hand, so those drinks went down fast. For the Sparty you get a card on a lanyard that has the money you put on it; you also put down about a 6 euro deposit on the card if you forget to bring it back, of course I forgot to do this, but at least I got awesome credit card like souvenir.
*None of the pictures shown were taken by me, they were all pulled from the internet.