Oh sweet sweet Budapest, where do I begin. You have stolen my heart from me. In actuality, Retox Party Hostel has stolen my heart from me. Serk and I rolled in to Budapest like a pair of ferals, cunning as dunny rats, around mid-afternoon. We originally were going to stay at Carpe Noctem (“Seize the Night”) but hostel bookers pulled a fast one on us because Carpe Noctem was full. The Carpe Noctem staff were just gems and booked us into Retox instead, which is one of the sister hostels alongside Grandio Party Hostel (the horror stories I’ve heard!) and Carpe Noctem Vitae. This was possibly the best outcome for a potentially dodgy situation. The moment we walked into Retox, I felt the tinglies. A lot of the bars and hostels are set up in abandoned communist housing blocks where you enter into a courtyard in the middle of the block and balconies from above surround you where everyone can see what’s going on below. The hostel dorms were located in rooms around the balcony and the open air bar in the center courtyard below.
According to some reading I had done, the beginning of the 21st century was an exciting turning point in the nightlife of Budapest: in the central area of the city new places were opened one after another in tenement houses and factory buildings doomed to destruction. These were equipped with rejected furniture of old community centres, cinemas, and grandmothers’ flats, bringing a retro feeling into these places. They were soon called ruinpubs and became popular very fast among the youth of Budapest – ruinpub is the exact translation of the Hungarian name.
Needless to say, this ruinpub hostel lived up to every expectation I had. Everyone in there were walking around half naked with a beer in hand or sitting around the tables playing drinking games. There was no check-in office, so the really laid back also half naked staff just keep their eyes peeled for anyone who looks like a newbie and just strolls on up for the greet and meet. One particular staff member who shall remain unnamed had me grinning like a shot fox before we even sat down for a bevie. We were given wrist bands and watch-like bracelets that flash the electric locks open. The wrist band cleverly has the address of the hostel in case you get lost three sheets to the wind in Budapest and have to flash it back to the hostel. The rooms were not as greasy as I was expecting them to be in what I deemed to be a “squatstel”. Things were well maintained and the bed were clean and comfortable which is a blessing when coming to a place like this as I’m sure everyone who has stayed in this place has had a bit of a naughty on them. Not very many electrical sockets but you can forget about socializing with the rest of the world when you stay at Retox. Because yes, it is indeed the opposite of Detox. There is no check out so we couldn’t get to our beds right away but who wants to sleep the second you roll into Budapest? Not this screamer, nope!
After getting settled in and “watered”, we headed out for some grub with two lovely ladies from Australia to prep for the pub crawl the staff were hosting along with all the other sister party hostels that night. And what a ripper it was. I swear the Aussies all congregate in these hostels, even Thor’s lookalikes… Delicious. We made a few more friends at the hostel bar before heading out to this club for cheap buckets of liquor and these infamous shots called Fane. It’s basically a touch of black currant syrup filled with carbonated vodka. The carbonated vodka is meant to act like a torpedo in your stomach making the alcohol enter your bloodstream at a much faster rate than normal. Hooo damn! We all split buckets you would find in a sandbox of cocktails round a table with various long straws. One thing led to another and everyone starts blowing liquor at each other and throwing ice at the ceiling to explode all over the crowd. We then ran into Ollie, Alex and Dougy who we didn’t know at that moment that we would continue traveling with them to Serbia. We did five rounds of Fane and cheers to anything from “When in Rome!” to “Queen Elizabeth”. Ridic. After losing steam at this club we decided to hit something more local friendly where I tried some very tasty black cherry beer. Late nights, late nights. I’ll sleep when I’m dead. Sucha root rat, wink wink!
The following day was beautifully warm and could not be wasted indoors. For those of you who don’t know, Buda and Pest are two different cities that are separated by a river. We were located in Pest which is relatively flat terrain and Buda is more hilly where the castle district and citadel are. Serk and I went more into Pest where the best Turkish bath was hidden and a big park with a castle and a few monuments. Stopped for a lakeside cocktail after a long walkabout before heading back for round two at casa del mortum. That night was to be the ruinbar pub crawl which we were really keen on from the get go. This was also the night that the Pooper Troopers/Team Brown was born into existence. After rounding the troops, we all headed down to ruinbar numero uno. One of the Aussie country girls we met really needed to use the dunny and what do you know she broke the damn bowl when she sat down on it, flooding the bathroom, and was convinced the Hungarians were going to kick her out of the country. So you can imagine what kind of poop and fart jokes came out of that. We had the majority of our hostel making fart noises all night. Szimpla bar was definitely the best out of them all. Szimpla is a labyrinth of different rooms ranging from dark lit caverns, to a giant open air jungle; all levels set up in the same housing block style so you can see what is happening in every room. They sell shisha and with it you get a massive carrot with which we assaulted each other with. BOOM BUDAPEST BABY! The final bar we went to was more of a night club in the end. Here things begin to get a little greasy as we proceeded to play shotgun. Basically how the game works is that a team member will shotgun you a member of the opposite sex and the rules are that you have to go and get your snog on with them. We decided after the game getting a wee bit out of control that there are guidelines and you cant just shotgun any one and everyone.
What we didn’t know was our last day in Budapest was a bit of a bust as it was raining and people were feeling rather rank from the night before. We spent the majority of the day tucked away in a cozy restaurant laughing about the antics from the night before. That night was suppose to be a booze cruise down the river but we decided that we would rather go back to Szimpla bar. When our new friends mentioned that they were to be leaving to Serbia the following day for Warrior Dance Festival with Skrillex and Prodigy, we impulsively decided, Hey! Why not?, and decided to join them. The train was to leave that following morning and despite having to get up early, we went spastic again that night. Needless to say, as we sadly departed Retox, the entire place exploded into a round of applause as we walked away. We knew we did a job well done. Team Brown, roll out. I have been keeping in touch with one of the staff members with regards to potentially getting work when I go back to Budapest in the next few weeks. I definitely left my heart there. And one of my flip flops.