As previously mentioned, my intention was not to do any “fun stuff” in Budapest until I’d caught up completely on blogs and work. It was going well for a day or two, it really was!
To keep myself sharp and focused, I usually pop outside for a quick lap around the block and breath of fresh air every couple hours. One such lap took place at 8pm Wednesday. I immediately heard the unmistakable beat of an outdoors concert in a park just across the road.
So much for that productivity!
I ran back to my room, dropped off my backpack, changed from a ratty tanktop into some more appropriate nightlife gear, and made my way to the supermarket to grab a bottle of wine. Although it was only a Wednesday – and a cold rainy Wednesday at that – the streets were absolutely full of young people strolling around with drinks in their hands, dressed to impress, clearly getting ready for a long night out.
I think I’m going to like it here.
Back at the supermarket I decided at the last moment to opt for a portable screwdriver instead of wine (that is, vodka poured into a plastic screw-top bottle of orange juice). It’s far safer than glass, as well as easier to walk with – preferable for a night out on the streets. As I stared blankly at the variety of different Hungarian vodkas, a couple guys with Heinekens walked by to get in line – so I asked them for a quick recommendation. They obliged happily, and we continued chatting as we walked back towards the concert.
On the way there it started to rain, and within the blink of an eye the crowds were stampeding towards the trams. “Damnit, they must be going home,” I assumed.
“Not to worry!” one of the guys said, “I have a friend who’s throwing a party on the Pest side of town; You’re welcome to come if you want.”
God I love traveling.
So we all crammed into a phone booth to escape the wetness as he attempted to reach his friends; in the end he couldn’t get through, but thankfully the other guy said he knew of a local nightclub that’s busy nearly every night of the week. I’d heard loads about how great Eastern European nightlife was – at last the time had arrived to put it to the test.
I was not disappointed.
After a quick tram ride across the river and into central Pest, we arrived at the doors of Corvintető – something I would never have found had I not been introduced. Corvintető dubs itself “the one and only openair rooftop underground club in Budapest.”
Just close your eyes and envision what an underground club in Eastern Europe might be like. That’s Corvintető. Like the city itself, it had a distinctly “raw” feel, about as far from the glitzy Las Vegas clubs as you can get. The entrance was nothing more than a large unmarked steel door with two huge bouncers sitting out front; no line, no sign. Inside was a long twisted staircase leading up into the darkness. Most of the overhead lights didn’t work, and the walls were so covered in graffiti and ripped posters I couldn’t even guess the paint’s original color. But the higher we climbed the louder the music became, until we finally reached the first of the club’s two floors.
Floor one, actually the top floor of the building, housed two separate rooms – a quieter lounge and a louder (and absolutely packed) dancing area. Although less dilapidated than the staircase/entryway had lead me to believe, this club’s emphasis was clearly not decor. Its walls were simple cream-colored brick, chipped and falling apart everywhere; the paint was cracked and the floors looked like they hadn’t been resurfaced in decades. But what this club lacked in style it made up for in, well, just about everything else. There was no cover charge to enter, drinks were dirt cheap, it was extremely busy, the music was fantastic, and well over half the women there were simply gorgeous.
Yet both of my new Hungarian friends couldn’t stop apologizing for how dead it was, assuring me that if I came out on the weekend it would be a completely different story.
“Hang on, I’ll be right back – I have to run up to the roof and mark this spot on my GPS. I’ve got to be able to find this place again.”
…Which leads me to floor two, the skybar – populated by dozens of tables, several swing-chairs, and more great music. Not so many people, though. It was still lightly drizzling.
We didn’t leave the club until it started winding down somewhere between 3 and 4am, with plans to continue the party with a group of four we met inside – but after riding the bus halfway across town one of their friends suddenly got tired so the whole group decided to call it a night. Personally I suspect the reason was something different from “tiredness,” but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt (I overheard talks that the blonde guy wanted to “mate” with the tall dark-haired girl). So my two friends and I started back towards the river, dropping by a small island hangout on the way across – which turned out to be empty due to the rain.
Although they seemed adamant about trying just one more stop, it was a Wednesday, and nearly 5am, so I insisted that I get some sleep so I’d be able to work a bit before the upcoming weekend. We took a tram to Moszkva tér – Moscow Square – where I said goodbye to my two new buddies and caught the bus home.
Not too bad for a Wednesday night out – especially one that started with no plans other than a quick stroll around the block at 8pm 🙂