Thursday, November 21, 2019

End of an Era in Budapest

I first came to Budapest in 2009 to spend a summer hanging out and working on a novel.  I made friends and grew comfortable with the place, and now it's become a second home.  Many of those friends I made are still with me.  Others have moved on around the world, but we're all still connected and share this bond over our time together here.  Through it all, one of the pubs we've spent the most time in is a ruin bar called Ellato Kert.

Last night I met up with a small group of them to say goodbye to the place.  After a good, long run, it's being torn down to make way for a new hotel/residence.

That's just sort of the way things go around here.  Change is the only constant.  This neighborhood, the 7th, is the historical Jewish quarter.  During WW II it was the Jewish Ghetto.  Seventy thousand people were crammed into this neighborhood before being murdered outright or sent away to the camps.  It's the most gruesome of possible histories, and afterwards, the neighborhood was basically abandoned by the communists and left to rot.

After the fall of communism, starting around 2004, some budding entrepreneurs decided to turn some of the abandoned buildings into pubs, throwing in a bunch of mix-matched, used furniture and some interesting art on the walls.  It breathed new life into the neighborhood, and slowly these ruin pubs took off.

In fact, they became so popular that the whole neighborhood became a booming nightlife scene, with all sorts of restaurants and cafes, galleries, shops and hostels opening up.  As happens, those establishments that started it all are becoming victim to their own success.  Many can't afford to stay anymore.

Ellato Kert was previously a sausage factory, way back when (thanks Adam for the info).  There were other ruin pubs in a former school (Iskola) and taxi garage (Kuplung), but they already closed down.

Now, another one bites the dust.  Such is life I guess.  All that is left of these places are the friends and the memories.  I will cherish both.

Me on the right with some good friends.

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