26 september 2010

Budapest : a small collection of random pics & memories (19.09.2010 - 23.09.2010)

Budapest is a city with many splendours and combines a rich cultural heritage with a vibrant undercurrent. For five days I dwelled in this city, with all its beauty. But when one scratches the surface, the touristically less appealing sights of this major capital emerge.

(click on pics for larger versions)


During one of my first walks, I stumbled upon a collection of shoes on the Pest bank of the Danube. It is a memorial to the Budapest Jews, the victims of the Arrow Cross militiamen. During World War II they were shot and fell into the river leaving their shoes behind.

Only meters away, a more recent victim of society organises his laundry in a type of area that other people use to take a leak. The startling contrasts of this city became apparent from the get go.


From the first moment that I walked into Klub Vittula on Kertész Útca n° 4, I fell in love with this place. It's a cellarclub without the flashy bling that many other clubs in the city display. Crazy expats and local weirdo's hook up and have drinks at very democratic prices, while alternative music mingles with the smoke and the dark interior. I went back several times and already miss this bar and its inhabitants. And its feisty little barmaid. On one occasion I witnessed the birth of a new drink, baptised as a "crossgender shemale-drink", consisting of milk and vermouth. Here's to you, guys & dolls !

A word of warning though : when you've consumed several large bottles of Soproni Démon (dark beer) and several shots of Zwack Unicum (herb liquor) and Pálinka (brandy), things tend to become a bit blurry. The nearby squares Blaha Lujza Tér and Rákóczi Tér are shady places when night falls and the pushy hookers won't easily take no for an answer.

Too bad that the bar of the Fészek Müvészklub further down Kertész Útca at n° 36 was temporarily closed due to reconstruction. I would have loved to have a drink at this place where artists and intellectuals gather and where the ghost of communism still roams the hallways.


You've got to love the old folks of this town. A tough past is engraved in their faces, as they try to make a buck. For example by selling flowers on the very lively Moszkva Tér on the Buda-side of town. I sat down on this square for an hour or so and observed the passers-by. The lady on the right sat motionless with the flowers in front of her face the entire time... Not one of these three sold even one bouquet.

Whistle a tune. Two elderly ladies concoct a dubious scheme, whilst enjoying a bite of corn. Or simply scavenge the banks of the Danube.

But also some younger inhabitants enjoy the beauty of their city. For example by admiring the grandour of the Hungarian Parliament from across the Danube. By sitting on the beautiful Szabadság Hid (Liberty Bridge), which is nicely lit during the night. Or by throwing out a line in the Danube.


A lot of hanging out can be observed on the large Erzsébet Tér. Benches, ramps for skaters and grassy knolls are ideal for consuming a drink, purchased in one of the many little abc-shops around the area.

In the center of this large square lies Gödör Klub, also known as "The Pit". Almost every night there are concerts and performances at this alternative venue, mostly for free. I saw several. Like experimental soundscapes during the Havizaj Fesztival or the inexplicably popular Hungarian band The Kolin during a fashion-festival. I found a clip of the performance of this electro/rock-band, which left me dumbfounded :

Upon one particular night, this square was turned into a forum for a manifestation called Critical Mass. Hundreds of bikers gathered to claim a more bike-friendly city. While an outdoor-dj was playing "Eye of the tiger", everyone put their bikes in the air. A press conference for this manifestation was held later on in Gödör.


An absolute must see is Memento Park. Situated in the southern 22nd district of the city, this amazing park has gathered several remains of the communist dictatorship. For tourists there's a direct shuttle-service to this site, but it's a lot more fun to get there via public transport. Metro 3 to Ferenc Körùt, tram 4 to Fehérvari Ùt and bus 150 to the park. The park is well thought out. Sober, without glamour and on the edge of town in suburban nowhere-land, this site provides food for thought. Especially for those who gushed about marxism-leninism in their youth ...

Wave that red flag proudly, soldier ! Good morning, comrade ! Once part of a 8 meter tall statue of Stalin, only its boots remain standing ...

The old revolution versus the new technology. Lenin urges the red army on ... amidst a forest of pylons. Side by side the red army remains firm.


The magnificent St. Stephen's Basilica, the Opera House, the Parliament, The Geller Bath complex, the Buda Castle district, the old Royal Palace, the Fishermen's Bastion, the famous pedestrian Váci Útca, ... : they're all worth a visit and are displayed in abundance in every tourist guide. But here and there, other old gems can be admired because of their campy qualities.

A prehistoric car still drives around in the Buda-area. On the Pest-side, near the trainstation of Nyugati Pàlyaudvar, nobody bothered to remove an old camper. Perhaps the car and the trailer can hook up one day... And in one of the hallways of the metro-system, a display-case obviously hasn't been altered for many years. The blue album of The Beatles is still displayed in it.

The impressive Saint Geller-monument, which looks out over the Erzsébet Hid (Elisabeth bridge), is tagged and tarnished by graffiti-vandals. One melancholic communist soul left his tag looking out over the bridge. Another melancholic person craves for the early works of Bon Jovi. To each his own...

When another night falls over this amazing Hungarian capital, with its crazy Magyar language and its unique citizens, the traffic still rushes along the Danube and across its bridges. Goodbye Budapest, until we meet again !

Geen opmerkingen: