Tuesday, October 13, 2009

szimpka kert, budapest

Rather than soak an experience in and then think about it, analyse it, write about it later, I'm going to have a go at transcribing my thoughts about the latest chapter in my Budapest adventure as I experience it, so consequently I'm crouched over my iPhone while I should be drinking in my surroundings. On the other hand, I am sitting in the pitch black.

A couple of people have mentioned Budapest's ruin pubs to me since I arrived, but it took my friend Laura recommending Szimpla Kert to me to get me in the door of one of them. The ruin pubs are essentially ad-hoc bars created in the space of one of the city's many ruined buildings. In Szimpla's case, it is housed inside a crumbling mansion, a haphazard sequence of rooms, some without proper ceilings, and a huge courtyard in the centre of District VII, the pock-marked, culturally rich part of the city that proved to be first a haven and then a prison for the Jews of Hungary during the thirties and forties.

Everything inside the pub is delapidated and decaying, but the extent to which the space, and the objects within it, have been repurposed is absolutely staggering. Each room has it's own character and is as cosy as the last, even if some are filled with broken chairs, upturned bathtubs and old televisions. The space I'm sat in the at the moment contains 13 of the latter, suspended from the ceiling, each showing a gradually evolving psychedelic image. Apart from the TV's, there is no lighting. So until one's eyes adjust, one is basically sitting in the dark. The room opposite, by way of contrast, is just a few seats and a wall, upon which films are projected. To my left, dimly visible through the archway, a room with ivy snaking across the mesh roof.I've really never been anywhere quite like this before - it is the comfiest, richest, most dramatic and at the same time most basic pub I've ever frequented.

It's absolutely wonderful, in short.


Milly said...


Meanwhile... said...

That place looks absolutely amazing.