Budapest, Hungary - Polarsteps
We made our way to the Big Friggin Monument on the hill overlooking the city. The signage promised it would be open by 2022 with a cinema by 2023.
a. It wasn’t
b. Any prospective travellers, I wouldn’t hold your breath on the cinema either
c. There was some absolute geezer, dressed like techno Jesus who in the time it took our ash filled lungs to get up and down once, had lapped us like 3 or 4 times doing power walks.
There is also an adventure playground with poorly lubricated slides.
From there it was off to the Soviet Memorial Park.
Right, Hungarian Metro System, you absolutely bang. Really tight stuff. Beautiful modern mind bending mosaics everywhere. Tastefully curved concrete around every corner, cheap, really, top stuff.
Just too many fucking inspectors. As in, the one inspector. Who landed me and Ellis with a 25 euro fine. Each. fUcK.
Ellis was convinced the bumbling tourist would work on him. It did not. :(
The memorial park itself was absolutely sick, although Ellis wasn’t so impressed, I was impressed by just how shit it was. I don’t mean the content wasn’t interesting, or the statues weren’t god tier soviet level bananas; I mean that the park itself had been constructed in the model of a gaudy garden centre.
Big open space on the side of a highway, built in a mock Parthenon style. Except unlike the Parthenon, the bricks themselves were collapsing, crumbling away to the touch, revealing a sparse honeycomb of wafer thin clay inside, never thought I’d be able to tell a cheap brick from the good shit.
You could tell the place was built on a real, real tight budget, with most of the cash going direct to the developer/owner that thought a series of massive arches and vaults in plasticine red brick would be aesthetically pleasing. What a dick.
I actually felt a real twinge of sadness. Not because the overzealous nutter commie of a ticket and coffee kiosk manager would be out of a job, but because the place marks a very serious and very important part of Hungarian and indeed European history.
And the bricks that form its foundation were unsuitable to bear the weight of the, really quite moving, monuments to the working class and revolutionary men of the time, and of times gone by. You could literally see where the heel of the “Worker of the Soviet Union” (Like 15m high statue of some geez with a flag) was buckling the brick underneath.
After reflecting here for a time, and critically shredding the cheap and lazy works, and extolling the ones that had artistic integrity, we made our way to the adjunct cinema.
Don’t go to the cinema in winter unless you have four season gloves, coat, hat and little hand warmers. It’s fascinating, mostly about how the secret and millitary police operated under the soviets, but bloody hell, in November in near-eastern Europe with plywood between you and the wasteland of the Budapestian outskirts it gets fucking cold.
We absorbed the culture and the history as far as we could and made our way back to the hostel.
Recovery and kebab. Nursing the financial devastation of the afternoon.
We did the usual business of wandering around the city looking for booze. In fact, we found a class cocktail bar. Given that neither Ellis nor myself have ever been able to afford a single drink in a cocktail bar, we thought, well damn, surely it will be cheaper in Budapest?
We were right! It was still quite pricey, but wowowow was it lovely to drink something other than a sex on the beach from Wetherspoons. We played “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes” for several hours and were eventually asked to leave.
So we wander we wander, we are looking for a beer at near 3 O’clock in the morning. The only place open was a god damn party hostel on the other side of town in the “Hive” Party Hostel.
We put the e in “eejats-on-e-scooters” and rode our way over (via a market that was definitely closed, really beautiful though).
At “hive”, I realised I had been here before! Under similar circumstances in fact. Four years prior when I bought my first interail pass, me and my buddies ended up here too. It was shit then and it’s shit now.
But having matured, the near empty dance floor had a totally different feel. It wasn’t about drinking as much as the bar could serve, it was about us serving the DJ, which we duly did.
Collapsing onto a bench we met a friendly Italian man who invited us up to his room for drinks. I have to say, both of our heckles went up pretty quickly, he turned out to be very lovely and very generous, but one should always exercise, or at least, be vaguely aware that caution should be exercised under these circumstances.
Finding ourselves by the bar, again, closer to 4 or 5, I noticed a single head at the front of the now totally empty dance floor, bopping away to whatever gold “DJ Dream” was spinning. I approached him and invited him to drink with us.
He turned out to be an Emirate by the name of Yusef. He shortly brought out a pipe, you can imagine a narrow recorder, a piccolo, and stuffed it with what could’ve been mistaken for oregano or some other green herb. It absolutely wasn’t, what it was, was Dokha Tobacco. Now I don’t know much about the emirates, but drugs are definitely not ok. So second best? Tobacco that when consumed properly has you seeing stars. It sits you on your ass and you can’t do anything except feel warm and like you are about to fall off your chair. Lasts about 20-30 seconds, but its unreal. Like you just finished a best effort 10K run.
We passed it around a few times and made plans to rendezvous at one of Budapests historic baths the following day…