The Ruin Bars of Budapest

Szimpla Kertmozi ruin bar Budapest
Szimpla Kertmozi

The history of these places, although very recent, is extremely cool. Ransacking of the Jewish quarter by the Nazis, followed by four decades of Communist rule, had left Budapest with a large number of derelict and decaying buildings, in varying states of disrepair. During the early 2000s, with many city dwellers on the breadline, these derelict buildings became makeshift bars, a place where people with little money could congregate and enjoy cheap booze. Characterised by bare walls, graffiti, and mismatched furniture as they grabbed what they could, these ramshackle places quickly grew into social hubs and their numbers began to increase.

Szimpla Kertmozi ruin bar Budapest
Inside Szimpla Kertmozi

Ruin bars became a kind of genre of their own, and, twenty odd years on, have a place in Budapest’s culture. Some have grown into big rambling establishments, some are intentional copies of the originals, but the semi open air feel – tarpaulins instead of roofs, crumbling brick walls – of the ruin bars is all part of a great atmosphere.

Szimpla Kertmozi ruin bar Budapest

Our first experience of Szimpla Kertmozi, the original ruin bar, and the rest of our first day, is now posted on the journal. Go to the Cities section of the main menu and select Budapest.

Budapest – first few hours

Magnificent view of the Hungarian Parliament building Building Budapest

So we’re here in Budapest, although a short flight delay and big bus queues meant it was almost 2pm by the time we were out exploring. However even in just a few hours this wonderful and majestic city has made an impression.

Our home is in Pest, close to the Jewish quarter, across the wide Danube from beautiful Buda. So many wonderful vistas, so many majestic buildings. We’ve already taken in many sights, already walked miles. Then, as we left Buda and walked back across the Chain Bridge, darkness started to fall and floodlights lit the buildings on both sides of the river. Beautiful views in every direction.

And now we’re in our first ruin bar. You don’t know what a ruin bar is? We’ll tell you later.

Darkness falling In Budapest

Travel Review of 2018

Puerto Tazacorte on La Palma in the Canary Islands
Puerto Tazacorte

The year wasn’t without its complications and we had some disruption to travel plans, but managed to rescue the year pretty well in the circumstances. We suffered two bereavements during the year; in June Phil’s Dad died, then at the end of November, Michaela’s Nan passed away. Both of them had helped shape our love of travel: see Michaela’s story and Phil’s story.

Despite these sad losses causing one cancellation, and one delay, of holidays, it was still a pretty spectacular year, and one which has further fuelled our appetite for retiring, giving up the day job, loading the backpacks and going off to see the world. It’s going to happen, soon.

England wise, we had stays in Thame, Oxfordshire: a terrific little town with a great selection of pubs, but a weekend spoilt by the incessant rain; two walking weekends in Phil’s Derbyshire homeland; two weekends in Padstow, and visits to London and Birmingham. Padstow is a place very close to our heart, and one we are very familiar with.

March saw a terrific break in La Palma in the Canary Islands, in a terrific little place called Puerto Tazacorte. This was a backpacking trip, something we always love, nothing booked but the flights. Puglia was booked for June but was the trip which suffered cancellation, though we have now resurrected the plan for 2019.

Next up then was a fabulous trip to Asia, taking in Kuala Lumpur, Jungle trekking in Malaysia, the paradise island of Tioman, and the thrilling experience of seeing Singapore for the first time. All of it was brilliant, but Singapore in particular is unfinished business.

Our only foreign city break this year was Geneva, in November.

We finished the year in Mexico, partly in Oaxaca and partly in Puerto Escondido, both truly wonderful destinations in their own right, but with a foodie experience well worthy of the title of our blog! Mexico overlapped into 2019, so we’re up and running.

So what’s in store in 2019 now? Well, there’s a Budapest weekend; a 10-day trip to Jordan, and the resurrected Puglia trip already on the calendar, but there’ll be plenty more, plus, all things being equal, this might just be our last year at work before that travelling dream becomes reality.

Birmingham City Gas Street Basin barges and pubs

Birmingham City
Padstow Harbour Cornwall seagulls and fishing boats
Padstow Harbour
Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur
Tioman Island beach shack Malaysia South China Sea
Tioman Island
Oaxaca Mexico, churches & buildings
Oaxaca Mexico

The joy of city breaks

There’s something special about a quick city break, it’s a particular type of travel experience which brings its own style of satisfaction and stimulation, often enhanced by the very fact that you have limited time in which to cram the experiences. We are off to Geneva this weekend with the familiar format of a two-night, three-day stay, flying in early Saturday morning and back home Monday evening.

Precious few cities have failed to excite us, everywhere has something to offer, and for us there are definite highlights to aim for. Of course, you have to see each city’s major sights, but we try and throw in a few oddball ones too, if they’re there to be found; we will take in, perhaps, a bustling market, or a climb to a rooftop view; plus, always, try to seek out lively bars and restaurants where we can soak up the city culture. Familiarising ourselves with the transport systems is all part of it, as are seeking out neighbourhoods with a different feel, eating anything which is a local speciality, learning the city’s history. We love the feeling of strange surroundings becoming familiar in a short space of time: isn’t it funny how quickly that happens.

Switzerland will be our 30th country visited together; and for Phil, Geneva will be the 73rd great city of the World, and that doesn’t count any at home in the UK. All things being equal, we’ll be there in time for Saturday breakfast, and so the next adventure will begin.

Here’s some shots from some previous city breaks

St Petersburg, Russia
Riga, Latvia
Venice, Italy
Brussels, Belgium
Krakow, Poland

Geneva time….nearly

It’s just over a week now until our next trip, a quick city break in Geneva, out on the Saturday morning and back Monday night, so we’re in the midst of planning this next adventure. Geneva is a city we’ve wanted to visit for a long time and we’re looking forward big time to exploring the lake shores, the old city, and all that Geneva has to offer. It’s a “hand luggage only” trip, travelling as light as possible, though with our wallets prepared for a battering as Geneva is listed as the fourth most expensive city in the world.

City breaks have an excitement all of their own; exploring the World’s great cities is one of life’s most stimulating experiences and we’re not sure we’ll ever tire of it. We certainly hope not, and Geneva promises to be a great one.