Budapest Survival Kit (essential info on how to get along in a country that had 11 or so completely different political/ economic/cultural systems in the last century)
Introduction It all started with the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Our great-grandparents were young and promising children of a big, multicultural European power. But things were about to get horribly wrong for the rest of the century. The catastrophe of WWI was promptly followed by huge territorial and demographic losses, a brief three months of communist coup, and a year or so of foreign occupation. What followed was a nationalistic dictatorship of a Vice-Admiral with no fleet or sea, in a kingdom without a king. From here the situation quickly deteriorated into WWII, with a brief nazi dictatorship costing the lives of hundreds of thousands. After the end of the war, a three year democracy was overthrown by a Stalinist regime to be ended by a revolution lasting for less than a month. Soft communist stagnation was ended in 1989. Needless to say all of these regimes introduced their own social, cultural order along with the political systems. Different elites, different enemies, different values, different schoolbooks in every 9 years (in average). When those few from our great-grandparentsâ€™ generation who have survived it all had finally died, there was nothing to be taken granted. In this country nothing really started and nothing really ended. In this book You will find some clues how to survive under such circumstances.
----------------The 0km stone at the SiklĂł
The city Two sides of the story
Budapest is a city that was made up of three cities. Buda is a mostly clean cut old town with conservative traditions and prideful bourgeoisie. It was always closer to the centre of power and the composition of its citizenry still changes with winds, even though the country is governed from the Parliament on the other side. Pest is a pulsing cosmopolitan place, changing much faster and more dramatically than Buda. Pest is the real city where you feel that anything can and will happen. Maybe because it was built on a messy, marshy place in Barbaricum, where the lines of power were not so clearly drawn. Unfortunately, most of Ă“buda, the third city-part, became a huge, faceless pre-fab housing estate with only the old town square and a few places by the Danube telling about past glory. When Ice-T visited here he said very aptly that Buda is the Body and Pest is the Pussy. Even the B-s and P-s are matching. He was right, the city is a woman, with the hills as breasts and something messy on the left bank where you can feel the twirl of things. You wonder the grace of Buda and feel the power of Pest, the pussy, sucking everything into itself. Just like you admire the elegant style, shoulders and breasts of a Buda woman and you feel the fatal, invincible attraction to the pussy of the Pest woman.
Like many women, this city had some rather not too pleasant experiences. Not long ago Germans on one side and Russians on the other abused her. Scars from that rape on her precious body can still be seen all over. Up in the middle of the Castle on DĂsz tĂŠr, one building full of bullet holes still stands out as a contrast to the tourist attractions. It is not preserved as it is on purpose, there is the usual bitching going on about the renovation: who will get the fat contract and so on. Still, it serves as perfect memento for the troublesome days. The scarred buildings in Pest are not so in the focus of public attention, out of sight in a side street. Many of them will never be renovated, their last function is being a twisted tourist attraction until property speculation forces them to be torn down.
If you keep your head high and watch the rooftops you can see weird installatio ns on many buildings. Many of these turret-like edifices have other purposes than being just mere ornaments. They were designed to be shooting stands and were heavily in use during the war and in 1956. The one on the corner of Dob utca is still the one of the most dominant landmarks of the street. Nazis sniped on the KiskĂśrĂşt from this turret that is now turned into a flat. It was on sale for HUF 15,000,000 in 2004.
pics-> Úttörő Áruház, V., Kossuth Lajos utca 7-9. (Used to be the first shopping mall in Budapest. Last name was “Pioneer’s department store”)
magnificent buildings. Many of the city’s The real estate market seems to care little about important or simply The most famous case is Gozsdu solution. a find to able be to seems no-one and decaying famous properties are s, offices and flats before businesse small of full passage e udvar between Király and Dob utca. It was a Paris-styl investor, the last inhabitants and cunning a district, the between decades for going been has bitching The the war. be used as a stand-in for post-war Berlin the Rumanian state. In the end, the building was so run down that it could n recently but you are still able to renovatio the in the movie Spy Game, (imdb: tt0266987). They started Gozsdu udvar between Király and Dob utca setting of being in a scenery for a post feeling weird ably indescrib an get might You guards. the past Divatcsarnok, Andrássy 39. visit if you can sneak “Fashion Hall”, (used to be a very chic shopping mall) nuclear strike role playing game.
City planning as cabaret
that time, the jewel of Blaha, council started building the second (red) metro line. The National Theatre, City planning has always been a bit of a comedy act. Few decades ago the say that the commies wanted Some n. foundatio buildings the touched even have not the metro would was found to be in its way, so they blew it up. Few months later they realised to destroy that national symbol on purpose. they started from both sides, and as the two branches were nearing each other In the 70’s, they were building a motorway bridge near Nyugati. They the hence Baltic, the to is other the level, Sea was measured to the Adriatic realised there was a 0,675 meter difference between the two. One side to. compared or measured is country the divergence. Well, there has always been a big matter which standard on Coming from the South on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky, the bus turned left People on night buses saluted this masterpiece of planning for decades. made a left again under the bridge. The then and Körút the onto again right turn to block huge a Alkotmány just before the bridge, drove around metres before the end of the bridge. Some genius solved this problem by 5-minute detour was needed because the bus stop is placed twenty the Körút. allowing the night buses to make a left-turn before the bridge onto
they found a monster called SütLegend says when the Romans wanted to conquer the land over the river but he had them seduced with res, legionnai the fight didn’t monster The Pest. of Főz-Fűt living in the marshes the left side of the river. The on stayed and camp beauties from the East. The soldiers never returned to their true voyeur, bringing people a was he time With mix. well, people, the watching in interested monster became maybe he lives somewhere around, still is monster The ions. together in the most peculiar ways and combinat up rampage through the streets like a under the city. They say if his voyeurism is not satisfied he will wake Godzilla.
at the bar on Moszkva Tér. The square lies square from the upstairs terrace of the And this is st. riche try’s coun You can observe the contrasts of this the to home descend from the surrounding hills the intersection of many of the roads that is held every morning. People from cial” term: illegal work force market) (“offi et mark slave last es, selling these phon le mobi where the city’s into y loudl t shou who sylvania are hired by foremen Eastern part of the country and Tran of trainers that the übertrendy youngngs of the workers could buy one pair earni ’s is week One sites. ing build guys to the poorest workers everyday. There pass to have kids iest sometimes. The trend on. comm in little sters in the bar wear. Fate is a bitch have they that the other and are absolutely aware little interaction, both groups dislike
Yes, the baths, you have to be a fool not to visit at least one. The best time to go to a bath is in the early hours to start the day or finish a hard night. Gellért and Széchenyi are big and touristy but nevertheless marvellous. Chill in the pool on the hill and watch the city in Gellért in summer. Sit outside in the smoking hot water in Széchenyi in the winter. Baths do help forming that hedonistic, care-free mentality some Budapesters possess. Traditionally, Turkish bath pools are separated, some smaller baths open only for males or females on certain days. Make sure you know where you are going: big scandal rose around Király when the public got to know about the gay orgies. Some male only days in Rác are also gay friendly. Rudas is always for males only but expect taxi drivers and small time criminals and politicians instead of gays. It used to house parties at night (for both sexes) and will hopefully carry on with that after the renovation. Lukács is the least famous for tourists but maybe the most beloved by the Budapesters. It is a very important place in the informal news circulation of the city.
Gellért, XI., Kelenhegyi út 4-6., (Gellért tér)
Széchenyi, XIV., Állatkerti út 11. (stop “Széchenyi Fürdő” on the yellow line)
Rudas, I., Döbrentei tér 9. (Under renovation)
Rácfürdő, I., Hadnagy u. 8-10.
Király, II., Fő u. 82-86
Lukács, II., Frankel Leó u. 25-29
Mászóka – Climbies
The „climbies”, the monkey bars were all manufactured by the Central Monkey Bar Manufacturing Cooperative (CMBMC). Some of them had political meaning: the sphere symbolised the globe and the rocket trained the future generation of kosmonauts. There was also the house, the cat, the wave and the pipeline and that was the selection. Thick oil paint covered them in either peace blue, soviet red, sick piss yellow or green. They were made of metal so your hands would freeze to them in the winter and they would burn your ass in the summer. The blocks of concrete surrounding them made climbing an extreme sport. Most of the kids suffered severe injuries and boasted about them like veterans boast about their scars. Today the good old mászokas are replaced by safe-to-use, euro-conform wooden or plastic things. Some of the old ones are still to be seen around, sunken, paint peeled off.
Your last exit in the VIIth district before the bourgeois, green belt district streets of XIVth Zugló is Szinva utca. The street is designed in perfect, scary symmetry. On the sides you see windows with rolled-down palettes. You can’t help the feeling of being watched. But the street is dead, the only living thing between the walls is dog shit. A few toothless zombies appear from nowhere and check if the cars have valid parking permits. You notice that each house has a workshop underneath, in some you can watch the last women working in the capital’s textile industry. You are happy to see people again, even though they are half machines. You get scared, hurry towards the light, the busy road at the end of the street. You have a feeling that each step takes you further and further from your goal. You scream. A window opens and someone tells you to go to hell. “I am already in the hallway” you shout back.
The transition from the old system to the new was anything but smooth. Many rose to unimaginable wealth almost overnight with seriously dodgy methods. Now you have the chance to play the transition again with the most controversial characters. Here are the first four play cards.
Tasnádi Strength Intelligence Spell 7/10 5/10 4/10
Special Skill “Mr. Muscle” (20 Mana) Calls a carload of muscleman. If he succeeds, he gets +5 attack. Special Skill “Being persecuted” (20 Mana) Each time he is cornered he is allowed to call his opponent an anti-Semite. If he succeeds he gets a free round.
4/10 6/10 5/10
Suit all finest (-2 defence)
Klapka Strength Intelligence Spell
Stadler Strength Intelligence Spell 3/10 3/10 3/10
Special Skill “Last Supper” (100 Mana) Brings Leonardo’s Last Supper painting into the country and reclaims the VAT for the business afterwards. After this he is not allowed to make any move for 8 rounds. Special Skill “Son of common people” (1 Mana) He is allowed to say he is a simple shepherd who got ripped off by corrupt politicians. If he succeeds he gets away from the attack. Suit All neon colours (“eye shock”, always attacks first)
Special Skill “Bust Bump” (10 Mana) Can pump up her breasts to an unnatural size and gain +8 defence. Special Skill “Whine on TV” (10 Mana) She may cry on telly and claim herself a victim of conspiracy. If she succeeds she gets away from the attack and gets +1 support.
2/10 3/10 5/10
Special Skill “Cheap Marketing Stunt” (10 Mana) Manufactures a washing powder named “conventional washing powder“. Each time the other players mention his product in their ads he gets cash or free advertising. Special Skill “undefeated defender of the last bastion of freedom” (10 Mana) Can use his historical name (descendant of a general of the 1848 revolution) to gain +1 support.
Suit only necktie (-2 defence)
Strength Intelligence Spell
Suit Red chequered with black (+ 2 defence)
Stadler József First occupation: shepherd. Made an incredible amount of money trading with the ex-USSR states. Notorious tax-dodger. His biggest coup was reclaiming the VAT after the import of Leonardo’s Last Supper oil painting, which is a fresco in Milano. The responsible tax-officer said: “we found no formal mistakes in the process” and allowed the payment. Stadler was finally cornered and sentenced to prison. He stated that he was used as a tool by politicians. Used to run his own 1st division football team, named after himself. Today, he is not allowed to enter the stadium he built. Passionate collector of naive paintings of himself and his estates. Tried to sell some of the masterpieces, but no-one paid the price he wanted. Recently released from prison made his debut as a talk-show guest. Klapka György First occupation: show-dancer. Decorated in the GDR. Defected to West-Germany in 1969 and became successful in business. Lived with four women at the same time (“Sometimes one of them hurried home so that the first would be hers. She thought the others wouldn’t get any. But there was enough for each of them”). Came back in 1989 and was charged within two years with a massive customs evasion case but was cleared (“I found a gap in the law”). Manufactured a washing powder under the name of (Conventional washing powder), hoping that he could sue the competitors if they mentioned his product unfavourably. Became a cult figure with his minimalist ads for his antique shop. Passionate bio-walnut farmer. Claims to know a thousand love-poems by heart. Tasnádi Péter Sold electronic devices in Austria in the 80’s. Imported cars and operated a security firm in Hungary in the 90’s. Organised and sponsored street-fighting events. Liked to pose as a godfather, even wrote a book entitled “Mafia life-to-death? [The Maccabi story]”, but denied any connection to organised crime. Arrested in 1999. Culprit of the first Hungarian mafia-case, sentenced on four counts but not on creating or operating a crime organisation. Insisted that he was only found guilty because he was a business opponent of the then Home Secretary, who also run a security firm. “For the same role Al Pacino got an Oscar, I got three years”. Wrote a book “983 days in the prison of Fidesz”. Released from prison recently. Passionate cook. Loves kitschy villas and pictures of himself surrounded by masked bodyguards or defence attorneys. Zalatnay Sarolta (Cini) Became the darling of the country after finishing second in a 1966 national talent competition. Went to England, dated the scene. Members of the Bee Gees wrote songs for her and allegedly one even proposed marriage. Returned to Hungary and became a local star. Her memoir of love-affairs (“I am not a nun”) was a best-seller in the 80’s. Blew her breasts up to the size of water-melons to please her much-younger lover. Was the oldest woman to appear in Hungarian Playboy. Wanted to launch her own TV-channel (CIN-N-N) but ended up owing 500,000 Euros to investors. Was found guilty of fraud (“I made a mistake, but I don’t feel guilty”). Let a camera team follow her and make a reality show of her last days outside the can. Currently serving her three-year sentence. Cicciolina visits her often.
Typical scene on the promenade between the hotels and the Erzsébet bridge, on a sunny late afternoon. A well-dressed, bit older man lights up a cigarette. A young guy comes to him, asks for a cigarette and starts a conversation. The game is clear and not about smoking. Who is the young guy? A runaway kid? Somebody from the penitentiary, or an orphan who never knew his parents and was not tough enough to become a badass? Someone just making a fast ten-thousand to support his coke or whatever habit? Someone from a distant village, who came to work in the city and somehow ended up as a male prostitute? Most of the punters don’t care. Rich West meets poor East for a quickie. Even the hotel receptionists turn a blind eye and make some cash. News is spread, the sex tourists keep coming. At night, when the last train is gone to the East, there are always some desperate ones without shelter. See more in the film „Nincsen nekem vágyam semmi” by Kornél Mundroczó, imdb entry tt0243452. Around the Pest leg of the Erzsébet bridge, esp. up river
The whole plaza is an as if thing. People act as if they had a lot of money, as if they were shopping addicts. The truth is: not many can afford buying new things constantly, but acting as if they could (and just did) is nevertheless an option. A lot of women save those fancy paper bags you get in the shops. The paper bag becomes a multifunctional tool: it is a handbag and a tool for as if - a status symbol, an item to make others envious during the plaza cruising.
Plazas here mean more than just very Western or American style shopping centres. They are the new city life. You find everything that makes a city different from a village: promenades, high streets, cinemas and cafĂŠs. West End, a plaza behind Nyugati became what it advertised: a new centre for the city. Sociologists talk about a new breed of people for whom plazas are the only third place. The Plaza became a plaza in the piazza (public place) sense; there are even people who visit a plaza to get fresh air.
As if Culture
Budapest in films as other towns
Berlin - Spy Game (imdb: tt0266987) Buenos Aires - Evita (imdb: tt0116250) Paris, London - Munich (imdb: tt0408306)
Culture of complaint
English speaking Hungarians often respond to questions like “How are you?” with a stream of complaints. They are not people in despair; this is simply how you are expected to react to such questions in Hungarian. You complain about yours and let your partner complain about theirs; this is our version of “how’s it going?”. It is as empty as the Anglo-Saxon formality, you don’t care about the other’s problems and don’t expect to be listened to. If you run a business, you are always supposed to complain. Unfortunately, the so-called positive thinking has infected some of our business people, so they smile and are very sure everything is ok. They are considered to be boastful and even stuck up by some. True, they should damn well respect our culture of complaint.
English. Bezzeg can be used in the sense This is a very heavily used Hungarian word that cannot be translated into “the neighbour’s grass is always greener”. - Bezzeg in Germany you don’t have to pay for the Autobahn. es. It is especially used when Hungarians think someone else has unjust advantag - Bezzeg in Italy the pensioners get so much money they can go on a holiday. or kid – with somebody else. Bezzeg can also be used if you compare somebody – yourself, your wife - Bezzeg your neighbour’s kid passed his intermediate English exam at 15.
g runs smooth and everybody succeeds.
The bezzeg-land in the Hungarian collective consciousness is where everythin
The little big ego
As a Westerner talking to Hungarians, one can often notice an element of arrogance. Hungarians sometimes tend to feel superior because “life (or survival) in this country is harder than in the West” where people are “spoiled by the social and lack of challenge and hardship”. Other common topics are: our school system gives more comprehensive knowledge Western one; basically everything was invented by Hungarians; we have the most Olympic gold medals and Nobel Prizes capita and so on. To some, well, actually many, historical nostalgia is the most dominant feeling. They long for the country that was three times the size of today’s and was a part of a major European power. Ridiculously, many people regard even today’s Hungary as a major player in Europe. At the same time, many Hungarians envy the living standards of the West. To many, Western Europe is an idealised place with functioning institutions and social security. They admire the available funds for education and culture. Often they prefer to buy foreign goods and try to follow the newest trends. Hungarian products, especially in fashion are camouflaged as western products with foreign names and neutral campaigns. Those who know or care about the origins of these brands sneer at those who don’t. Add the widening gap between the euro-conform, multilingual and the rest of the country to this paradoxical, simultaneous feeling of superiority / inferiority and you have our version of a national identity crisis.
a bit system than a per
Is your company in debt? Sell it to a homeless guy! News from April 21, 2005: More than forty companies were registered to homeless night shelters last year. The Ministry of Justice wants to make the notaries and lawyers in the process responsible, saying they registered the companies to obviously fake addresses.
Tax dodging is a very popular sport amongst the self-employed. You are not really sneered upon for doing it, the act is actually regarded as a rather cunning one. Good excuse for the aspiring tax dodger is that tax dodging is practised at highest levels. Each 2-3 years the public learns about a new scandal. The scheme is always the same: a lot of money disappears from the public sector, someone gets hefty subsidy for a bogus company or simply a lot of taxes are avoided. The funniest case was maybe when a German / Turkish guy called Kaya Ibrahim signed a few papers in July 1995. Months later it turned out that he took over 14 companies with massive tax debts connected to people high up in politics. He claims that he did not sign anything, just gave his passport to his Hungarian neighbour in Germany who faxed it to another guy who... you get the picture. There is no verdict until today, the case was dropped. Our taxation system takes tax dodging as a default so the rules that are supposed to prevent tax dodging make simple business activities a nightmar e. Take booking simple expenditu res for instance. The detailed receipt stating the items, VAT and so on is not enough. You have to ask for an “ÁFÁs számla”, the holy VAT bill. Some bigger retail outlets have computerised systems, but in most cases it is a good old handwritt en, three-pag e carbon copied document. Try to get a hand written ÁFÁs számla at the railway station; good fun if the employee is retarded (which he usually is), and you have a long, aggressive queue behind you. On a coach, do this act with a few fellows and you can delay the departure with twenty minutes. This is the proper way to book a bus ride as expense. This hand-written paper piece of paper allows Wan-ker Bt to reclaim 22,168 Forint (about 10 cent) VAT and book the remaining as expense. Note that the VAT bill is the simpler type, because it does not state the VAT separately.
Swear! Hungarian language demonstrates its greatest diversity when it is used for swearing. English is limited to the usage of four letter words when some thing bad happens. Hungarian empl oys complex, grammatically correct curses with imperative in these situa tions. Compare: English
Kurva Isten bassza meg!
The sentence above includes words from the various categories of Hung arian swearing. - Adjectives (kurva) -Kurva means litera lly prostitute and can be used as an adjec tive. Kurva also means negative “very kurva szar - effin shit. Nowadays it is ”: even used as a positive “very”: kurva jó - effin good. Hungarian is flexible invent anything you like. So fingszopó in using adjectives so you can (fartsucker) is not an official term, but many people will appreciate your innov - God (Isten) - Often used in swear word ation. s. Other favourite is to mention God’ s genitals (isten fasza). - Sexual activities - (Bassza meg) Impe rative to have an intercourse. You can use about 20 or so synonymous word anal intercourse. s. You can also refer to fellatio or You may also add relatives to your swea ring. Mother is by far the strongest, aunt is prob !!!Note that the above sentence in Hung ably the weakest. arian is very, very rude. Still, you could hear any lorry driver saying it, cursi face-to-face and a relative is added, ng at situations or things. When it is it is more than a call to fight. said The older generation refrains from using explicit words and instead uses myth ical and poetic words such as “fűzfánfüt yülő rézangyalát” - the copper angel whistling on a willow tree, “rézfaszú bagoly”- owl with a copper-dick or “ördög karikás farka” bullwhip tail. -the Devil’s
You go into a bar and fancy the girl behind the bar. She likes you. The bar is closing. You want to take her out or home. Then she starts pouring all the drinks into a bottle and back to the original one. Is it a weird ritual of Hungarian mixing? Nope. She has to measure and book how much was drunk from every drink. Every single night. There was a stupid governmental regulation until 2004 demanding to know what kind of and how much booze was consumed each day. They lifted it but many places still do practise it because of the peculiarities of an economy of distrust. The boss doesn’t trust her and wants to know exactly how much was consumed. The barmaid doesn’t trust the shift next day so she wants to cover her ass in case something is missing. Don’t worry, it only takes a half an hour. Problem is, she might get really pissed off during the process and just wants to go sleeping (alone, damn). You get bored, she won’t give you anything to drink, there is no music and, obviously, you can’t talk to her because she concentrates on those bottles. No-one said picking up the barmaid was easy. Good tip: stock up on bottled beer before she closes the cashier.
As in any big city, some taxi drivers here like to take the tourists for an expensive ride. The masters of this game are the few hundred “sharks” cabs that don’t belong to one of the big companies. You can see examples of these arrogant, petty thieves around railway stations and main tourist attractions. Urban legend says that one unlucky passenger paid 300 Euros to get to the airport. A true story: some Japanese told their host that they saw three rivers on their way back to the hotel. Note that strangely it is much cheaper to order a taxi from a big company by phone to your location than to hail one on the street. Taxi drivers belonged to the aristocracy of the eighties. They had access to lots of cash and even hard currency, were free and uncontrolled. Times have changed, but to own a cab is still regarded as a success story in the outer districts. There was even a time when cab drivers were regarded as kind of freedom fighters. In 1990, the government (contrary to its promise) raised the heavily subsidised petrol prices to the market level. Cab drivers blocked the roads and made a circus in front of the parliament. The “people” brought the protesters home-made cookies and tea.
Your own Blitzkrieg
Not to pay for the ride with BKV (public transport) is the most popular sport in Budapest. The word for travelling without a ticket is “bliccelni”, which means literally “to be like lightning” and comes from the German word “Blitz” (Lightning). BKV tries to retaliate with furious anger and little success. In summer 2005, a young woman was taken to the police station in handcuffs because she allegedly faked her monthly pass. Next day it turned out that BKV employees themselves sold her a faked monthly pass. BKV expressed its regret and offered the woman to replace her fake pass for free. How generous. We of course recommend that you pay each time the right fare.
Here are some things you should not do under any circumstances: -Prepare a ticket in which the time stamp is a blurry, unreadable mess and claim the machine must have been broken -Show any ticket with any readable time stamp to the controllers before you enter a metro line. They don’t have the time to proofread it. Also, you should not remember these things: -The controllers may call a policeman but they don’t have the right to hold you up. -The metro controllers control in squads and in segments of a metro line, usually three or four stops. -There is always a control if you want to change metro lines underground at Deák. It is possible to dodge them if you exit the station and enter the new line from the surface. -It is very easy to spot the controllers on surface. Look for a group of people who are mixture between Stasi agents and born losers. See more in the entry tt0373981. before the film
film „Kontroll” by Nimród Antal, imdb Note the ridiculous comments and warnings from Botond Aba, president of BKV.
Night Bus The passengers of a night bus are a cross section of the night: young people going to or from a club, workers travelling through the city to an early shift, homeless sleeping on the bus. They operate between 23.00 and 4 o’clock the following day. Night buses around midnight turn to be clubs themselves because many people use the time of the journey to get hammered. On the weekends at around three or four is the after party time when you can see at least one person who is more fucked up than you are. The night bus on the way home is your last chance to pick someone up. It sounds strange but actually you can often succeed. The ultimate party line is the 906 (formerly known as 6É) between Moszkva and Körtér running every 12-15 minutes all through the night. A bit rougher are the buses 950É and 914É, especially near the end-stops. For a ride into the darkness of the outskirts try 909É, leaving from Deák.
Literally meaning “bald”, this is the term used for those muscular guys you see all around. They are synthetic products of those messy, uncertain times around the changes when things were not clear and often muscle was needed to settle affairs. The hey-day of the kopasz is passed but they still continue to form their own caste in society. The ultimate dream of the kopasz is to cruise around in an expensive car (possibly a huge jeep), have a curvy blonde girl on the side and generally, be the boss. There is a good deal of crime going on in the city and many kopasz are involved in it but not even half of them are as serious players as they show. Nevertheless, questioning the kopasz’s authority is not a good idea. Being on mushrooms in a place with aggressive techno music and tons of kopasz is definitely not a good idea. Trying to pick up the kopasz’s girlfriend is a bad, bad idea. Trying to pick up a kopasz himself because you think he is a beefy gay type is a suicidal idea. Many kopasz work as bouncers. They are brutal and like to show who runs the place. This is done by picking out a guy and giving him a beating. This is done usually to smaller guys but even celebrities can get theirs. Tibor Simon, a Vinnie Jones type of football player and minor celebrity was beaten to death by bouncers (who worked as policemen during the day). Another soap opera star got hospitalised last winter after he tried to stop two bouncers from kicking a girl around.
The Hungarian with his funny moustache has been a stereotype for centuries. Males without facial hair were considered children not so long ago, so the sign of true manhood was the moustache. Today most of the nation’s males have abandoned wearing extensive facial wear, but still, a few local bio-accessories are to be recognised.
“Harcsa” The harcsa (catfish) type of fringe is a true brand sign of an older Magyar Macho of the Puszta. He
started wearing catfish the back in the 70’s and hasn’t changed his style. The best place today to go catfish spotting is maybe a village fair. The city way to act like a Magyar Macho of the Puszta is to have a title, a uniform and a hand-weapon, so no wonder that catfish remained a favourite by some low-rank policemen. MIÉP - “Hungarian Life And Justice” (a party of chauvinist idiots) This type originated from the old peasant’s moustache, maybe that’s why its wearers act like the village wise man after two glasses of wine. Must have if you think Hungary suffered wrongfully throughout the centuries or want to teach folk-dance. For the full effect, you can try adding some remote accent to your speech, even if you are born in the very centre of the capital. Note that most of the time the moustache is drooping, just like the country’s potential and potency. If it curls upwards, you are either near a tourist attraction or an auditioning for a costume film.
Not so long ago, each house used to have its own házmester, the janitor who was in charge. Before the war they were employed by the landlord to take care of the property. Being a házmester was, for many, a social achievement. They had free lodging on the ground floor and received wage. They also collected “gate money”, a small sum one had to pay if the residents went home after the gates officially had closed. At one time, they even rose to power: furing the big chaos and terror of 1944-45, there were many házmesters amongst the arrow-cross thugs. The sphere of control of the házmester grew during Communism. They were supposed to “report” on the inhabitants of the house. They were in close contact with the authorities and always knew where a social flat could be required. They could undermine the lives of people they didn’t like or whose flats they spotted for themselves. The term “dictatorship of házmesters” is pretty known to the old generation.
Házmester - janitor
Go and consume!
The Polish flooded the town in the eighties with cheap gadgets they smuggled from the West and sold in impromptu “Polish markets”. A decade later the Chinese took over these places. The city wanted to regulate the situation and “develop” a place where such illegal trade is concentrated. After a lot of dispute, bribing and even shooting the Four Tiger Market finally opened in 1992 on the grounds of MÁV, the state railway company. The 20-minute tram ride to the market is an adventure in itself. You take the tram Nr. 28 from Blaha through the mouldering houses of the outer VIIIth District. You will know when you have arrived: on one side of the road you see wholesale outlets and electronic casinos, on the other side a stone fence. Actually, the market is so big that there are three tram stops where you can get off. The market is a chaos engine, a forsaken derivation of the Silk Road, where rubbish from all directions of the wind converge. Cheap imitations of anything (check out Adios and Rebook) are on sale next to worthless electronic items. Anything that is smuggled is sold under the table. The smell of the market is a strange mixture of fresh plastic, strange food, oriental spices and sweat. The noise is a mixture of all languages spoken from Hungary to East China and South Vietnam. The buyers are as mixed as the sellers; charter buses bring hordes of people from as far as Poland and the Ukraine. Tips: How to feel like being in a film Blade Runner - Go to the Four Tigers market on a dark, rainy day. Eat some noodles in an eatery. Within five minutes someone will come to you and start to bother you in a language you don’t understand. Jackie Chan movie - Go to the big Four Tigers market on any day. Start taking photos or filming. (Strictly forbidden!) Within a minute you can practice your kung-fu skills against a dozen opponents who want to take your camera. 4 tigris piac, X., Kőbányai
small grocers that stay a “non-stop” in every corner. They are In the centre of Budapest you can find at: non-stops in Buda are you e wher you s a non-stop has tells open all night long. What range of good shops in more runthe s; expensive delicacies with foreign label flashy streets, the or in better-off neighbourhoods sell the from away Far . food basic ol and some very . You can settle down areas only stock cigarettes, alcoh lived is life e wher No bars are open, so this is the place le quarrelling. non-stop is the social establishment. coup ken drun the to next right beers fetching a few an old dispute with your neighbour after drivers drink coffee from plastic exchanges of the night. Cops and taxi stock info as ion funct stops none Som near clubs let you preview a stops Noning. morn next the possibly not read before entering a cups and talk about the news you will drink quick p chea a ket institutions. Many like to have you will still fail, you good section of the night’s meat-mar here. If r you can fix a companion for the night abe party wann and guys pricey club. Go ahead, if you are cleve der spen big be g-toling wine truth about some tryin know the canned beer and cheap spark
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An extensive collection of ”kortyi” (“sippie”), synthetic alcohol sold in sip-size, a necessary tool of survival for many.
Though often translated falsely as “bar“, or “pub” into English, kocsma is an institution of its own. A good kocsma is rough and uncomfortable and is used exclusively for drinking; the food (pogácsa or a zsíros kenyér - bread with lard) is on hand only to prepare the stomach for the serious drinking. Consider a kocsma as an educational institute where you can learn the most importan t life lessons from underdogs: how to survive beer, shorts and wine in the same evening, how to hack pinball machines and how to avoid work, in general. A borozó is a wine yard where you can buy wine on tap by the glass, usually from one region or big producer. They are filled with old guys who share their bits of wisdom louder and louder after each deci (tenth of a liter) or fröccs (wine with bubbly mineral water called szóda). Habit and market changes have forced most of the borozós to close, sell acid wine or change into a more general kocsma. An old borozó with real wine is Tokaji borozó on V., Falk Miksa 32. An institution for students and teenagers is Móri Borozó in I.Fiáth János utca 16.
ke walking A good share of the population is heavy on the drink. The real zombie-li an”. (plastic)c a in “wine literally bor”, “kannás on ones the are eyes corpses with dull
brought out In the early nineties wages dropped. The alcohol industry answered fast and is supposed It name). the (hence cans plastic litre 5 or 2 in plenty of cheap, artificial wine to be illegal now, but no-one really cares or dares to control. costs about You can find acid wines in the dirty cellar “wine bars” and kocsmas. A litre version. Even a Euro to take and 1.5-2 to drink. Any shop will sell the canned or bottled bor” (wine on some bars, kerts and clubs will sell you this poison, but they call it “folyó it. for prices s tap) and you will pay ridiculou most irresistTry this stuff out, after a few glasses you will be the bravest, smartest and evening it the by but , headache splitting a have will you day Next ible person around. about politics will go away. If you drink the stuff for a year, you can sit back and forget ent. or even television, because tying your shoelaces will be a full day’s engagem so-called the rt, Soltvadke and Kecel Akasztó, are drops The regions producing the best have colourful golden triangle in the middle of the Hungarian Plain. The leading brands Irma (the wife etiquettes, often with historic or folk themes and funny names like Kocsis or of a publican in a folk song), brother-in-law Durbincs (another folk song) Koccintós (clinker). Makes an excellent souvenir!
Wine is not at all just about acid wine, Hungary does have some excellent drops. Not a wonder since the soil and the climate are good and the country has been producing the noble drink since the Roman times. Wine has been the most popular drink for centuries, beer only took over in the late 20th century. Many families own a small vineyard and produce wine (“házi bor” - ”wine from the house”) from miserable to excellent quality. A lot of winemakers have achieved international reputation in the last few years. Some wines won blind tests against severalhundred-Euro-a-bottle wines from French wineries whose name has a lot of funny characters. A lot of books, magazines and wineblogs are being published; the domestic demand for high quality products is growing and even a certain patriotic wine snobbism has also found its way into the upper market. So, if you are invited to a fancy party, bring a nice bottle along. It can be a foreign wine, but than be prepared to hear the comparison with a Hungarian one. Be able to talk about barrique, optimal maturity and acacia scent unless you want to be declared an insensitive barbarian and denied of the grilled lamb and forced to eat frankfurters. There is nothing wrong with frankfurters, but you don’t go to a fancy party to eat them, do you?
Not the real tokaji!
comes from the word `espresso’. Presszó or eszpresszó is the name of the Italian type bar, and it actually after the war. The rhythm of the were presszós of days big the but 1937, r The first on opened in Decembe brewed excellent coffee; new machines coffee Huge place offered the feeling of modern life people wanted. and the morals of the shortage in were flats Also, be. to place hip the was presszó offer: on specialities were places to meet possible only the was presszó a people young many older generations were conservative, so for some as centres for artists. Often they up. Some presszós served as centres for the opposition or free thought, their terrace. Many presszós closed had a little band playing in the evening and in the warmer days they opened ting on alcohol instead of coffee. concentra kocsma, a in the nineties or kept the name but they became more of 2-4. The ladies sometimes still Leó Frankel II., Bambi, is 1961 from pasted & copy ly One almost complete glass. in served is coffee wear the trademark high-heel boots and the
Some wineregions are: Villány (Try the cabernet-sauvignon and the blauportugieser) Eger (“Bull’s Blood is famous, although there are a lot of crappy ones on the market) Badacsony (Excellent volcanic soil. Rajnai Rizling, Olaszrizling and Kéknyelű are excellent whites) Tokaj (Tokaji is a unique dessert wine from the region) Szekszárd Sopron Mór
A lot of wine shops have opened and they offer a wide selection of noble drops. They usually speak English and will tell you about the types, regions and producers. Play the game well and you can taste a few glasses for free. In vino veritas, VII., Dohány u. 58-62. (huge one) Kriszitna Borház, XII., Lövőház 29. Pántlika Borház, VII., Dohány u. 30/a There is a wine shop in every shopping mall (plazas) and you can also find better wines in any upmarket supermarket.
A kávéházba – ahol tanyáztunk – alig járt más, mint művésznépség; tehetetlen, cinikus, fáradt-fantáziájú, de mégis melegszívű emberek. Nemigen dolgozott egyikünk sem, ellenben bőven vitattuk meg mindannyiunk jövendő terveit. Mit csinálunk, majd ha pénzünk lesz – stb. stb. Közben megittuk feketéinket, meg a konyakot, meg ismét feketéinket; szívtuk cigarattáinkat, és leszidtuk az összes festőket és írókat, szárazon és unottan buzdítottuk egymást; de senki sem buzdult. Csáth Géza : Mese a kávéházból
In the café - where we used to hang out - there was hardly anyone else than art folks; impotent, sardonic people with a weary imagination but a warm heart. Hardly any of us worked, but we were busy discussing everyone’s future plans. What we were going to do, when we had money - etc. etc. In the meantime we kept sipping our coffee, and the cognac, and the coffee again; we smoked our cigarettes and kept lashing all painters and writers, stimulated each other dryly and in a bored manner, but no-one got stimulated.
FREE place for anything.
Művész, VI., Andrássy 24. Eckermann, VI., Andrássy 29. Gerlóczy, V., Gerlóczy 1. Gresham V., Roosevelt tér 5-6. in the Gresham Four Seasons Hotel)
Géza Csáth: A tale from the café, 1904
Meat and Paprika
Hungarians eat meat with meat. In the fifties, there was a commie song about the working class being able to eat meat every day. They took it to the extreme, from the sixties to the eighties the holy trinity of meat soup / pörkölt / pork schnitzel ruled most of the family tables on the weekends. Pork is by far the most beloved meat, and as a result, high cholesterol is endemic. Paprika is omnipresent in the everyday Hungarian cuisine. Forget those fancy restaurants with their stupid food names that no-one can pronounce anyway: we make a gulyás / paprikás / pörkölt of everything or deep fry the damn thing. If there was a Hungarian Jamie Oliver, he would be a jovial fat guy making kangaroo pörkölt, paprikás tortoise and maybe a deep fried yak schnitzel for a change. If a UFO landed in the countryside, I am almost sure that the poor bastard would end up in some thick paprika sauce. (Gulyás is the thick soup, pörkölt the paprika stew that most of you probably call goulash back home. Paprikás is basically another variation for pörkölt.)
Lángos and Co.
For the lángos: Fény utcai piac. II., Fény utca, the market behind Mammut shopping centre (Széna tér), first floor (dough with pota to) Hold utcai Vásárcsarno k - In the market hall on V., Hold 13. Note the old street sign saying “Rosenberg házaspár utca ” - Rosenberg couple street. (dough with potato) Nagyvásárcsarnok, IX., Fővám körút 1-3.
One speciality all the guide books write about is “lángos”. It is deep-fried salty dough, served with garlic and optionally sour cream and cheese. Lángos means literally “flamed”, because this dish was originally made in the oven. Now it follows the pure fat - pure joy principle and is deep-fried. The dough of the original one was made of flour and mashed potato, unfortunately you are likely to get the pure flour one most of the time. Lángos is rarely sold on the street in this city anymore, only in markets and railway stations. That leaves the markets only, because as a rule of the thumb you should avoid eating at railway stations. You will also find lángos on the beach. Perversely, if you go to the Római Part, the right bank of the Danube near Aquincum, you can see a lot of people eating deep-fried garlicky stuff in the sun, even if temperature is over 35 Degrees in shade. The other typical beach food is called Hekk. Hekk is hake, a sea fish mostly fished near Argentina. It arrives in 20-kilo ice cubes. That ice cube used to come from Cuba and was called “socialist block of fish”. People like hekk because it has no bones and is easy to prepare. Your hekk will be rolled in paprika flour and deep-fried in one piece. This is the only fish you will get on most beaches, even at Balaton, although the lake is famous for its fishery. Hungary was praised by poets for its rich waters, now most of the country eats fish only twice a year - once at Xmas, (deep fried carp in paprika flour or paprika fish soup), and one hekk in the summer.
Burger for the Buerger
The first sign of freedom, hamb urger s appe ared in the early eighties. A TV ad introduce d the new food : a burg er bun was running around the table and eating all the ingredient s, and at the end a Russian style army choir echoed: hambur-g er. Bette r shops sold the standard 4-pack burgers that were demanded by the kids at dinner tables. Those who operated food stalls smel led gold and switched from lángos and sausages to hamb urger s. Our own varia nt was developed. The essentials for the old-school Hung arian burg er are: puffancs (a dark brown roll made from swee t doug h), one (1) slice of green salad, csalamádé (pickled onions, cucumber s and cabb age) and Globus brand mustard and ketchup. A decade later McD onald ’s conq uered and this delicacy almost comp letely disap peare d or dege nerat ed. Only a few places still sell the real thing. One is a dirty nonstop joint not far from Keleti. At night it is often full of cops on duty. They eat those old-school burgers around here, not donu ts. Rem embe r that, you might be able to spark up a conversation on your way to the statio n. 13+1 Ham burg er, IX., Angy al u. 28. Palacsintakirály, VII., corner of Thök öly and Dózsa György
Own fast food chain
Burgers were the first step towards democracy and becoming a westernis ed country. The second obvious step was to have our own fast food chain. So in 1985 City Grill opened up, a place that mimed western fast food joints. It was owned by a state company that also managed the big hotels. A TV ad featuring the golden mulleted Brother Pinball and his band Step (big celebrities at the time!) advertised the place and the new lifestyle. City Grill served coke in a logo-ed plastic cup with straws and had rolling chairs - everythin g felt so hip and chic. The winds of change smelled like french fries. Or freedom fries. The last City Grill on Váci utca closed a few years ago. It still bore the legendary name but instead specialised in selling overpriced tap beer on the terrace. The place is called now Taverna Söröző and still sells pricey beer. Maybe one joint should have been kept as a bonus trip destination for McDonal d’s workers where they could be ill tempered and lazy and generally, ignore all aspects of costumer service; just like it was back then at the City Grill.
Another attempt was to open a chain that sold the traditional slow-food hits like pörkölt, nokedli (kinda gnocchi), cucumber salad and such, but in a fast food fashion. It was called Paprika (what else?) The TV ad sang: “Here comes the paprika, the pa-pa-pa-pa-paprika!!!” I don’t know anyone who ever went there. It is bizarre, but Paprika still exists today. The very last restaurant is on the corner of Városháza and Pilvax köz. A fat lady is handing out the not-too-hearty portions on plastic plates over an aluminium counter, just like in a good old factory canteen. The clientele is mostly made up of pensioners. It is a kind of museum where you can see how things could be if the commies stayed on power and the country was denied proper fast food. Paprika, V., Városháza and Pilvax köz corner
The real thing, McDonald’s - Meki as we call it - opened its first joint on the Régiposta, in the very centre of Pest in 1988. It was news on TV. All of the leading politicians of the Party paid their mandatory visits. Looking back, it was the psychological turning point, the point that made clear that socialism was over. Ronald McDonald brought us freedom in a happy meal, the first secretary even got to have a Big Mac. The same crowd that visited the City Grill just a block away and stood in the line to get in the Adidas shop was now queuing for hours for a cheeseburger menu. For a short while, working in a Meki was considered as a hot job. Meki won the fat race with a knock out, City Grill died, the old school burger places closed. Today there are about 47 Meki “restaurants” in the town. Even in the countryside, a place is considered a real if it has a Meki. Meki put its hands on some unbelievable locations, one joint is seated in the ex first class restaurant of the Nyugati, in a building designed by Gustave Eiffel. A less classy but certainly interesting Meki is at Blaha. Beefy gypsy thugs used to hang out around the door as kind of unofficial security. A friend scored smack in front of the establishment, went to the loo to shoot up and got mugged by the same guys who sold the stuff. The place has been renovated but the clientele remained pretty much the same.
First Meki, V., Régiposta 10. Nyugati, VI., Teréz krt. 55. Blaha, VIII., József krt. 8.
The real place to eat fast and cheap is at the butcher’s, the “hentes”. A typical Budapest hentes place is small and has red windows with bars. It displays a variety of grilled sausages and other hot meat to the street so you can see the stuff if you walk by. Every Budapester male visits a hentes every now and then, except the vegetarians and picky ones, but they are not considered to be real men by the majority of the population anyways. The hentes is a democratic institution. Between the morning and lunch time, you can see construction workers and porn starlets eating sausage next to each other; a respectable old guy, a bácsi, eating smoked and cooked pig’s knuckles with slow and precise hand motion, using his own pocket knife. A foreman is buying tons of meat for his illegal workers. A guy in very, very expensive suit is eating nasty liver sausage. Drunkards are putting their coins together to buy some fatty stuff to cure their burning stomachs. Late partyheads are having a quick bite before falling to bed. The hentes is a kaleidoscope. The hentes in Budapest plays the same role as the barber does in some countries. He is your local news server. He knows who is who in the neighbourhood better than the cops and the whole neighbourhood knows who he is. He knows more about politics and football than those wankers who run the country and the national team. He does not hesitate to offer his opinion and you tend to think he is right. Not a good idea to argue with a guy who has a cleaver in his hand, anyway.
V., Városháza u. 6. IX., Ráday u. 49. VI., Hajós u. 17., across the Opera
It is a sign of real emancipation if a hot woman is able to enjoy these calorie bombs in public. My fellows in fat and protein, let’s liberate our women from the muesli mafia!
You can find a Chinese eatery on almost every corner of the city. They advertise “Menü” with big signs for less than 500 Forint. The “Menü” is some unidentifiable meat and vegetable stew in thick glutamate sauce. You choose between the 5-6 dishes displayed in the aluminium cafeteria-stlye buffet cart. The assortmen t is always the same: chicken gung-bao; beef Sichuan; meat in “thousand secret” sauce and “fragrant bites”. Ah, you get a clump of rice as a side dish, that’s why it’s a “Menü”. If you have ever been to a Chinese restaurant outside of Hungary, you may ask yourself if this food is a joke. No, it is not. Most of the people running these places are from North China so their “cuisine” is quite different from the Cantonese that spread around the world. Also, they have had to adapt their selection to suit the taste and budget of the Hungarian market. The guys are not trained cooks and possibly have to order the ingredients, or the chow itself, from a central “distributor”. On top of that, they often have to repay heavy loans to heavy people. Some places offer freshly made dishes that are considerably better than the “Menü” and are only a few hundred more expensive. Still, for the brave, resilient and resistant, eating a “Menü” in a “kínai büfé” on a dirty corner can be a unique experience. Just don’t try to find out what those thousand secrets in the sauce are... Kínai Büfé is all over.
You don’t have to spend a fortune if you want to have a hot lunch in Budapest. Most restaurants offer a two-course daily special for a few hundred Forint. The quality and quantity varies, look for locals on a lunch break. There are a number of étkezdes (“eatery”), ételbárs (“food-bar”) and kifőzdes (“cookout”) around, family-run businesses that serve basic food for lunch. They stay open between 11 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon, but most of the stuff is sold out around one o’clock. The clientele are typically people who work nearby and are known personally by the stuff. The boss is often a mamma type of woman, so mind your manners. The menu consists of Sunday classics, hits from the school “menza”, deep fried anything plus daily fõzelék. Főzelék is a dish of vegetables. You can get it also in a “főzelékbár”. They became popular a few years ago and began to spread around. There is even a national chain called Főzelékfaló. Eating in their first joint on Nagymező is a feeling of nostalgia for school days. You queue for half an hour to get a mass produced, floury, thick, souplike, overcooked vegetable dish. Just like in school, the best thing to do is to check the girls in the queue and try to get in contact. “When at lunch, to the begging and beseeching of my parents, and against my firm belief, I started spooning my portion of “nutritious and healthy” főzelék of lentils, he whispered in my ears: “Spew it, puke it on the plate, wait for the roast joint, the cookies.”” (Dezső Kosztolányi: Esti Kornél 1929) A hard-to find classic: Főtt marhaszelet meggymártással. Cooked beef in sour-cherry sauce, served with a side dish of pasta and sometimes also breadcrumbs. Typical Hungarian cuisine is sweet pasta as a main dish. Variations are: mákos tészta - pasta with poppyseeds and sugar, diós tészta - pasta with nuts & sugar and grízes tészta - pasta with breadcrumbs and sugar.
The sommelier’s guide to the bars downtown
Our country is supposed to have excellent wines and beautiful women, so why not enjoy both at the same time? It is an expensive experience, but what the hell, we only live once, cheapo! Here’s how to do it. Just approach any of the bombshell beauties walking down the street around Váci utca. Or better said, wait until they approach you. They get into a conversation with you and suggest you should have a drink together. You are on the right track. You will go to a bar nearby and enjoy a few drinks and giggles. Ok, that drink can be really, really pricey, because the girls drink that “very special wine”. But what are those few hundred Euros for a real speciality? One unlucky Dane had a coffee for 300 Euro! Be careful, if you (slang word: “madár”, the bird that has to loose its feathers) don’t have enough cash, huge bouncers will appear from the void. They will happily escort you to the ATM which happens to be on the corner. Make sure you have enough money: some tourists whose bank accounts ran out of juice were hospitalised. Legend says the same trick was played with two Americans. They refused to pay or go to the ATM, so the thugs were happy to teach them a lesson. In the end, the bar and the staff were severely damaged. The guys were martial arts trainers to the soldiers in Taszár, the American military base in the countryside. For the bars where you can taste that very special wine, check out the US embassy’s sommelier guide to Budapest (also known as the no-go list) under http://budapest.usembassy.gov/tourist_advisory.html
So, where to eat out? Good question. You can find any food ranging from excellent value to expensive crap. Explore, trust your instincts or ask a local. Here is some general info: Names can be a bit confusing at first. A restaurant is, well, a restaurant. It can also be called a vendéglõ. A vendéglõ is usually less formal and often advertises itself with “házias ízek” (home-like taste). A kisvendéglõ is smaller and even less formal. To know a good kisvendéglõ is a divine blessing; ask a Budapester to recommend their favourite. A Csárda in Budapest is a pseudo-folkish restaurant where you can enjoy huge plates of traditional dishes between busloads of German tourists and half-drunken Japanese with the compulsory gipsy music. If you are really unlucky you can even catch a folk show. Ihaj-csuhaj! Many places nowadays choose to be a “Café” where you can eat or just have a drink. Not to be mixed up with a real kávéház. You have several options for lunch, see page 56 and the bits about fast food. The design, furniture, ambiance and soundtrack of many new addresses in town could pass as trendy anywhere in the world. Same goes for the menu: the so-called “international with a Mediterranean touch”, speak you are supposed to be comfortable with three languages and cuisine to understand what it says. It seems to work, a “gnocchi al pacchino” on the menu can evoke the gourmand’s nod but no Hungarian would order “krumplis nokedli apró paradicsommal”, even though it’s the same dish. Sea delicacies are also in demand; unfortunately Hungary is landlocked so don’t expect the seafood experience of your life. A sign of awakening can be seen in some restaurants which proudly offer reinterpreted Hungarian cuisine. Orientation in general: Liszt Ferenc tér has become the place to see and to be seen in the last ten years. Well-dressed young people fill the terraces of expensive joints and the vibe is always lively. Pity is that you have to leave the outside tables by one o’clock. Another centre for eating out and being seen is the Ráday utca in the IXth district. For those in love with plastic chairs and tourist menus, any place in the tourist mile between Vörösmarty and the Nagyvásárcsarnok will serve a mediocre goulash and the food pictured in Lonely Planet. Same game is played in a more upscale way in the restaurants along the Danube promenade in Pest and one the boats.
Iguana Bar & Grill (Mexican) V., Zoltán utca 16. Il Giardino (Italian) V., Váci utca 72. Il Terzo Cerchio (Italian) VII., Nagydiófa u. 3. Their September list is: Kádár (Hungarian)VII., Arcade Bistro (International) I., Kiss János altábornagy utca 38 Klauzal tér 9. Kama Sutra (Indian/Asian) Baraka (International) V., Október 6 utca 19. V., Magyar utca 12-14. Kéhli Vendéglő (Hungarian) Café Bouchon III., Mókus utca 22. (Hung. /Continental) Két Szerecsen (Continental) VI., Zichy Jenõ u. 33. VI., Nagymező utca 14. Café Kör (Hung. /Continental) Kisbuda Gyöngye (Hungarian) V., Sas utca 17. III., Kenyeres utca 34. Central Kávéház (Hungarian) Krizia (Italian) V., Károlyi Mihály utca 9. VI., Mozsár utca 12. Chez Daniel (French) Le Bourbon (Continental) VI., Szív u. 32. V., Erzsébet tér 9-10. Daikichi (Japanese) (Inside Le Meridien Hotel) I., Mészáros utca 64. Lou Lou Restaurant Fausto’s Ristorante (Italian) (Continental) VII., Dohány u. 5. Gresham Kávéház (Continental) V., Vigyázó Ferenc utca 4. V., Roosevelt tér 5-6. (Inside the Maligán Borétterem (Hungarian) Gresham Four Seasons Hotel) III., Lajos utca 38. Gundel (Hungarian) Múzeum (Hungarian) XIV., Állatkerti út 2. VIII., Múzeum körút 10-12. Ha Noi (Vietnamese) Pata Negra (Tapas) XIV., Vezér út 129. IX., Kálvin tér 8. HanKukGuan (Korean) Páva (Continental) XIV., Ilka u. 22. Hax’n Király Sörház (Bavarian) V., Roosevelt tér 5-6. (Inside the Gresham Four Seasons Hotel) VI., Király utca 100. Check out the top 33 restaurants on www.pestiside.hu, they have a trustworthy recommendation in each category.
Pomo D’oro Garden (Italian) Corner of Csörsz and Alkotás utcas The Taiwan Restaurant (Chinese) IX., Gyáli út 3/b Tom-George (International) V., Október 6th utca 8. Trattoria Toscana (Italian) V., Belgrád rakpart 13. Új Lanzhou (Chinese) II., Fő utca 71. Some other tips: Vendéglő: Zöldkert, III., Szőlő 47. Kisvendéglő: Pali Bácsi borozója és étkezdéje, XII., Tartsay Vilmos utca 8. Csárda: Búsuló Juhász, the Csárda on Gellérthegy, XI., Kelenhegyi 58. Cafés with that Mediterranean flair: Soul Café & Restaurant, IX., Ráday utca 11-13. Buena Vista Café, VI., Liszt Ferenc tér 5. Fish: Horgásztanya, I., Fő u. 27 Modern Hungarian: Menza, VI., Liszt Ferenc tér 2.
Kert means garden and is also the name for the type of club or rather a bar that has been set up in a deserted courtyard. The first ones opened in the inner VIIth district a few years ago. A kert is a bit alternative, a bit chaotic, a bit run-down but can be friendly and even charming. They look like squat houses without inhabitants but there is no revolution or politics behind the `concept’ of kerts, only business. Typically, they host a clientele made up of all kinds of slackers, artists, ex-pats, tourists and even teenagers discussing Sartre. There is music but most of the gardens have a dance floor only in the cellar and no-one really goes to a kert to dance. Most of the kerts have to close down after only one summer because of the huge conflict of interest between the district, property investors, inhabitants and the operators. No need to worry, there are still enough empty houses in downtown so they search for a new spot not far from the old one and open the a new place under the same name. Recent trend is that some kerts adapt to the winter and stay open all year around. Kerts that are open in the winter:
Szimplakert, VII. Kazinczy u. 14.
Tűztér / Tűzraktár, IX. Tűzoltó u. 54-56.
It was a positive change in the Budapest night life when the open air clubs along the Danube opened not so long ago. Since then, a whole entertainment centre has sprung up around the Petőfi bridge. There is something for every taste: a huge club with mainstream music and live concerts, a club for the kopasz and wannabe kopasz and a ship for the classy. Watch out for the bouncers in the clubs, they tend to overact. The open air clubs on the ”budai Sziget are much more expensive and flashy, a huge meat market where money meets naked skin. Sex sells so much that they advertise parties with ex porn babes sitting in the VIP lounge. Here is a decoding of their flyers and posters: funky usually means modern mainstream dance music and house is a synonym for cheap techno. For the colder days: Kultiplex (open all year) is a club connected with the ex-pirate radio Tilos. Its dance floor has a DJ playing every night and the music is what it promises. A sure-shot Plan C (even after Plan B failed) in the cold season is Cha-Cha-Cha, a madhouse in the underpass of Kálvin Tér Metro Station. It fills up around two and can often be a promising continuation of the night. Last exit and last chance is usually Piaf, a dodgy cellar club where you gain entrance after being face-checked by a woman. If you are not totally wasted you get in. Inside, you can find a crosssection of the cold season Budapest night: party people, drunks, prostitutes and petty criminals. Sometimes an old guy is playing the piano upstairs. Open air around Petőfi Bridge: Zöld Pardon, a huge fun fair Rio, aggressive place for aggressive people A38 boat, just down the Danube from Zöld Pardon Óbudai Sziget: Dokk Bed Beach Go to the “White party” and see the city’s wannabe beautiful people dressed as ice-cream vendors. Kultiplex, IX., Kinizsi 28. Cha-Cha-Cha underpass of Kálvin Tér Metro Station Piaf, VI., Nagymező u. 25. Dancehall is popular amongst the young crowd, check www.dancehall.hu or look out for the flyers from Love alliance. Parties by www.lollipop.hu are held in different venues and usually have the nicest girls. Music is kinda electrocrash. Or electrotrash?
SONIC TAGS WORKSHOP
to back up the philosophy of Re:activism conference a group of international sound and media artists and activists are holding a pro:active workshop from the beginning of the week elements of the production work: • building small-area fm transmitters • collaborative content creation • production of alternative, localized, virtual edu-tainment spots Bits and pieces of the collaboration will be heard/found all over town • Radio Tilos provides an hour airtime throughout the week to deal with special themes on the occasion of the workshop and conference (http://tilos.hu) • Towards the end of the week, around the time of the conference, the small area transmitters will be planted in special parts of the city, so its worth the try to wander around town with an fm radio On Friday, 14th October, a special closing party will be held where the results of the workshop will be exhibited and made special use of
For locations and exact dates, watch out for flyers! MOKK, Radio Tilos, Nextlab, Radio Territories (EU) project
Yes, Angela Davis hairstyle was a big thing here too in the seventies, as you can see from old photographs and hear from stories of that generation, and basically you can still get anything here from the groovy retro stock that has become so popular again in recent years - the cheapest bits at the time when people can dump their rubbish officially on the street to be collected in autumn and spring. Quite a sociological survey, I tell ya. What are the things we had, but we don’t anymore, or are simply not wanted, no effort, no money to uphold? Actually, there are quite location specific answers to these questions. How did Telefonhirmondo, the multichannel protoradio invented by Puskás (it seems this is one of the names bound to become famous outside Hungary), change habits of attending the Opera near the turn of the 20th century, when you could listen to it from your home at an annual fee? How did they advertise the brand-new services, and just have a look at these stylish, great sound-reproducing apparatuses, don’t you feel the drive to know what they were listening to on them? All countries have radio amateurs, communicating in their own special way from their home studios, but imagine what it could have been like in one of these Eastern block countries... Now capturing and reproducing, transmitting sound have become kind of like a big do-it-yourself multimedia game, or at least that’s what we are trying to prove here. Come and join us in laying down and deciphering the rules of this air- and awareness-raising game.
Apart from vanished buildings and changed environments, all cities have sounds that perish by time, the sources of which disappeared. The noise of an unusual public transport vehicle, the new bells in a church to stick to the memory of old days and the existence of parallel worlds represented in the philosophy buildings that make up a city. “Mind the gap” sounds different in Budapest - just take a ride on the underground: no no direct translation, but at least they tell you right after closing the door, how the next undecipherable stop sounds like - just be creative enough to match the sound and the tiny letters on the information board. From 10th of October, if you wonder around the streets you may actually spot some wild looking, well-equipped sound catchers trying to capture unique as well as all too familiar sounds, map up what’s happening over here, over and over and below the surface, and transform the unseen world a bit.