Commence au Festival!
Away from the historic landmarks and beyond the shadows of the various buildings of antiquity of Pest but not quite within the reaches of the industrial new-town of Buda there is a magical place. An Island. 51 weeks of the year it is simply that – an island. It has trees, walkways and some fields. 1 Week a year it is transformed into ” an electronically amplified, warped amusement park that has nothing to do with reality” aka the Sziget Music Festival.
Luckily for us that week is this week and we would be able to enjoy it.
2016’s Festival Theme was the ‘Island of Freedom’ and Europe’s largest Music Festival certainly lived up to it’s billing. We spent the day listening to music old and new played by artists from Africa to Amsterdam, checking out the funfair and amusements and having a few ciders in the sun 🙂
Our day began listening to the Lumineers, a “little” folk band from Denver Colarado, on the Main Stage. Their chilled vibe got the crowd in the mood and there was many people stomping about in that country shindig kind of way. As we made our way to that area we passed random pieces of art – a wooden horse, lanterns and umbrellas in the trees and even a massive airplane model.
Moving on we made our way over to the Afro-Caribbean Stage. What happened next was nothing short of breathtaking. Ballet Camara from Senegal put on an amazing show.
With high intensity dancing and acrobatics carried out to the wild beating of drums it was enough to get the party going but we never expected fire-eating! Incredible.
Dinner was some tex-mex, eaten out of a cardboard box balanced on an overturned oil drum while some Cuban singer played on the nearby World Music Stage. So your typical festival meal.
Taking a break from the music and to walk off our tacos we explored some of the other sections of the festival. Unbeknownst to John the Magyar Chess Federation had held a tournament that day and were packing up as we passed. Shame! We eventually made our way to the Travelling Funfair where Karen kicked ass on the Coconut Shy and other games although John got the upper hand when he got his hands on a NES Controller.
Getting back into the swing of things we took a seat in the Blues Pub and enjoyed the set from Polish act the Krakow Street Band. A group of 9 disparate musicians who gather in the Main Square in Krakow for impromptu gigs they were big on brass and short on breaks as they dazzled us with hit after hit including an old Cantina number…
We ended the night back where we started, back at the Main Stage, this time with DJ Hardwell from the Netherlands and the End Show.Laser show, fireworks, colored flames, confetti rain and 20,000 glow sticks!
This Pint is ‘Ruined’!
As we alluded to in our last Budapest post, the Hungarians traded Nazi Rule for Communist Rule. So by the dawn of the new millennium, after decades of neglect, there were a plethora of badly maintained and run-down buildings in the city, mainly in the Jewish Quarter. In 2000, a bunch of enterprising Magyars decided to set up the first Romkocsmam, literally ‘ruin pub’. It was called Szimpla Kert and it started a trend. By the time we visited in 2016 there was well over 100. Over the course of our trip we visited a few of these starting with Mika Garden – a mixture of pub and garden centre.
We left the best until last – Szimpla Kert.
It looks like a junkyard – cast offs, thrift shop treasures and random crap strewn in and around crumbling walls and a labryinth of rooms, all open to the stars above. As you look closer you notice no price lists on this menagerie of madness. That’s because this is the decor of the pub. A Trabant here, an old lamp there, some welding masks lit up on a wall. You could probably find Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in the corner!
Between the Festival and the Ruin Pubs we found a new side to Budapest. The Old with the New.
Check out Part 3 of our Budapest Trip when we look a few particulars that the Budapest-ians have adapted in Something Borrowed.