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Imagine yourself in an alternate edgy futuristic society in the year 2050. A Blade Runner – Altered Carbon – 5th Element mash up for your cityscape.
Imagine, getting off work at 6pm one cold, dark, winter evening, hopping on a hover-cab and heading for a drink with your friends. You would end up at Szimpla Kert in Budapest, Hungary.
Szimpla was the first ruin bar (ruin pub) of Budapest, opening it’s doors in 2001. The concept was pretty simple. First, find an old abandoned place, which was creating an eye sore for the city anyway. Spend very little money gathering odd furniture, 80s memorabilia, recycled electronic and computer equipment, and maybe some flea market art. Set up a few corners serving alcohol, and maybe some bar food, at base prices. And create an ambience that is edgy, yet relaxed. An atmosphere where you can mill around, be yourself and never feel the pressure to purchase anything or get done with your drinks and leave for a different set of customers to come in.
Szimpla started a trend that is all the rage in Budapest now. These bars are all over Budapest’s old District VII (the old Jewish quarter), occupying the ruins of abandoned factories, stores, and buildings. They are quite nondescript from the outside, and you have to know where to look.
Our cab driver dropped us right in front of the bar. We walked in at 7.30 pm with 2 young kids – well below drinking age – with a warning that we had time till 10 pm, when the entire establishment would convert into the hippest dance bar in town. We walked around the entire 2 storied space, through each and every room – each uniquely decorated, and incredibly eclectic, and spent all our time soaking in the feeling that Deckard couldn’t be far away.