Hip Hop Legends & Street Artists Come Together for Boogie Down at the Bronx Zoo

This weekend kicks off Boogie Down at the Bronx Zoo -” A Celebration of the WILDLIFE that is Bronx Culture and History” featuring a full line up of Music, Art, Dance, Food, and MORE.” 

Read below for more info:

The Bronx Zoo is celebrating wildlife and the diverse culture of the Boogiedown Borough like never before at a series of springtime events fittingly titled “Boogie Down at the Bronx Zoo.”

For more than 120 years, the Bronx has been the birthplace of culture that has changed history and created movements. From humble beginnings, the Bronx is the home of global legends and leaders that have had a profound influence on the world through hip hop, breakdancing, doo wop, street art, salsa, AND wildlife conservation. The Bronx has it all!

 Boogie Down at the Bronx Zoo presents a variety of many cultural contributions that have resonated from the Bronx. Starting on Saturday and Sunday, April 21 and 22, and continuing weekends from May 5 through June 3, artists and performers from a diverse representation of Bronx cultures will be on-site to celebrate the Bronx Zoo, Bronx culture, and wildlife.

Many iconic forms of music have originated in the Bronx. Working with Bronx-based organization Windows of Hip Hop, the zoo will host musical performances by hip-hop pioneers, world-class DJs, and teach guests how to “scratch,” create an 8-meter rhyme, and more.

Special appearances by Grandmaster Melle Mel and Scorpio ‘Furious Five’ and The Sugarhill Gang will be the backbone of the of the musical line-up. Hip hop legendGrandmaster Caz will be on site at “Caz’s Corner” each weekend teaching everyone how to create rhymes and emcee like only he can.

The street corners of Arthur Avenue in the 50s, helped solidify doo wop’s place in New York City.  Boogie Down at the Bronx Zoo will take a step back in time to feature performances from artists that will keep everyone dancing. Guests can also enjoy some of the cuisine from the real Little Italy. (June 2-3.)

Music and dance performances derived Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Afro-Caribbean rhythm and dance that emerged and thrived in the Bronx will take center stage on themed weekends that will include music, dance, and traditional cuisine samplings. (May 26-28.)

Not only is the Bronx Zoo home to historic sculptures and architecture like Rainey Gate, Rockefeller Fountain, and the landmarked beaux art buildings on Astor Court, but Boogie Down events will feature Bronx artists creating new masterpieces live for the crowd.

Graffiti started as a scourge that transformed into a modern art form that can be seen and appreciated in murals around the Bronx, New York City, and around the world. Renowned street artists will create wildlife works on the zoo’s historic Astor Court.

Even the Bronx Zoo’s resident wildlife will get into the spirit of the Boogiedown as they contribute their own artwork to the festivities to create original paintings like no other.

Painting is a form of enrichment that some of the animals at the zoo engage in, and provides a great opportunity for them to interact with their keepers. These animal paintings will be the basis for some of the artwork finished by famous street artists like Crash, Tats Cru, Andre Trenier, and others.  The finished paintings will be one-of-a-kind works.

Participating performers:

  • Grandmaster Melle Mel, Scorpio ‘Furious 5’
  • The Sugarhill Gang
  • Grandmaster Caz
  • Rokafella (breakdancer)
  • BombaYo (Bomba music)
  • Rock Steady (doo-wop music)
  • Luis Damon salsa band
  • Mighty Bengal Step Team (student step team from the Bronx’s PS 55)
  • Dynamic Rockers Crew
  • Hip Hop Dance Conservatory

 

Street Artists:

  • Tats Cru (Bio, Nicer, BG 183)
  • Crash (John Matos)
  • Andre Trenier
  • Giz
  • Menace 2
  • Resa Piece
  • Shiro
  • Ian Sullivan
  • Matt Buck
  • Son of a Finch
  • Kay Love
  • Lovie Pignata

 

        DJs:

  • DJ Sammy
  • DJ Jazzy Jay
  • DJ C Styles
  • DJ Lady Love
  • DJ Jazzy Joyce

Take a look at a sample of the cool art project that combined art created by actual otter at the zoo that artist BG183 transformed:

I can’t wait for you to hear Melle Mel and Grandmaster Caz perform “Animals and MCs” , it’s legit. (New summer anthem?)

 

Grandmaster Caz
Melle Mel

Curtis Fisher
Melvin Glover

For tickets and a full schedule of performances, activities and themed weekends, visit www.BronxZoo.com/boogie-down.

Last, but not least, a huge shout out to Windows of Hip Hop for their work on this project.

It’s going to be amazing, get your tickets now.

 

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A Taste of Bronx Cookspace

Friday, I had the chance to visit Bronx Cookspace, one of WHEDCo’s many programs aimed at helping the Bronx community. The Cookspace provides commercial kitchen space and equipment to entrepreneurs in the food industry. It also offers resources to members to help them with different aspects of starting a business, such as insurance, product marketing, and networking opportunities. Membership packages start at $140/month or without a package at $25/hour.

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Here are some other cool facts about Bronx Cookspace:

  • 66% of the tenant are own by women
  • 76% of the tenants are people of color
  • 43% of tenants are Bronx-based (A number I’d personally love to see increase over time.)

But, let’s cut to the chase – the food. *insert hungry face emoji*

Everyone I encountered was super friendly and served up some delicious treats, but here are my favorites:

Sustainable Snacks – healthy and delicious dark chocolate-covered bite-sized snacks that you can take with you on the go. I tried the spicy cherry with almond and blueberry and pecan flavors and they were so delightful, and that’s coming from someone who will literally choose almost any flavor over chocolate. I also just love the pairing of fruit and nuts and the idea of providing an alternative snack option (although Takis are amazing…) Another bonus of course is that the owner is a Bronx resident!

5 Island Blend – Created by a husband and wife duo Randall and Guiatrie Sapp, these sauces bring the flavor without all the extra added salt. I loved listening to their stories (and of course trying a sample of chicken which had been marinated in the sauce and then topped with a little extra sauce for extra flavor. A cool fact I learned was that Mr. Sapp was actually born in the building that houses WHEDCo back when it was Morrisania Hospital. Can you get any more local than that?

Joon – I got to try something new when I stopped by Joon’s station, which serves up Persian stews in crispy rice cups. I got to try to the chicken walnut pomegranate and it was soooo good. They can usually be found at the Queens Night Market out by the Hall of Science, but hopefully we’ll see them at some Bronx events soon (hint hint).

Sweet Zahra – Another new experience was getting to try Persian Love Cake which  was adorned with flowers and fresh cardamom. This combination of flavors along with the perfectly sweet icing was so unique and of course, delicious.

 

 

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Take a Hike

I always used to say that I respect nature so much, which is why I stay far far away from it. While I was away, I got the opportunity to explore nature and go on a couple of (easy) hikes. I can’t say I’m absolved of my fears of trees falling on me or a wild animal attacking me, but I can say that I’ve come to appreciate it a little more and besides, it’s a free workout.

Sunday, the Husband and I decided we’d head to Van Cortlandt Park to try out one of the hiking trails. We figured we’d start off easy, and chose the John Kieran trail, which takes you over a short, wooden bridge and past the lake. Of course we’re in this weird winter-spring limbo, so while it was peaceful, I bet it’s even more gorgeous once the trees are in full bloom.

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At the end of the trail (it was actually really easy, almost too easy…), we spotted a sign with a tortoise and a hare and I remembered that there was a tortoise and hare statue somewhere in the park, so we decided to follow it. The trail took us through the Northwest forest, where an occasional runner would pass us by. This was the sort of hike I was hoping for. It turns out we were on the Cross Country Trail, on the three mile path.

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Turns out, we could’ve just walked across the sport field to the tortoise and hare statue, but I guess that’d be cheating, right?

Then, of course, after all of that work, we had to reward ourselves with a slice of carrot cake from Lloyd’s across the street.

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Not a bad way to spend a Sunday at all. And if you’re participating in the #Not62 movement, hiking is something that can easily be modified and like, I said, is totally free.

Have you hiked in any of our Bronx parks? Which trails should I check out next?

Travel Tuesday: Day Trips from Prague

As I’ve stated several times over, Prague is beautiful and though I’m obviously biased, it is one my favorite European cities. But, that doesn’t mean that your visit to the Czech Republic should stop there. With just a short bus ride, you can check out some other cities CZ has to offer. I unfortunately only got to visit two of them, but I did have great time visiting both.

Cesky Krumlov 

Approximately a three hour bus ride from Prague, Cesky Krumlov is often described as a “fairy tale” town and is rumored to be the place that inspired the setting of the Disney film Pinocchio. It’s the absolute definition of the word quaint, with its horizon dotted with auburn rooftops on either side of theVltava river that winds through the town. Here’s an abbreviated itinerary of what I did during my trip:

Breakfast at MLS Creperie – It’s a small space, so be prepared to wait a bit! We sipped on some tea and coffee while we waited.

Climb to the top of the castle tower – Weird fact: The castle has bears. Like, roaming around in this trench-like area. Apparently they were initially used as protection, but “aristocrats” have continued to provide the town with bears as a present. (Who are these modern day aristocrats?!) This practice is controversial as some people feel that there is no reason these bears should be kept in captivity for the amusement of tourists and of keeping up this tradition. Anyhow, you can get a pretty good view of them if they decide to come out or just the town in general.

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Explore the Castle Gardens – The spring or summer (or fall like I did!) is the perfect time to take a stroll through the garden’s labyrinth and sit by the fountain. So peaceful.

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Like I said, this is an abbreviated itinerary, if I had the chance to go back, I’d go rafting down the river and check out the museums. All the more reason to return…

Another cool trip (and a shorter ride than Cesky Krumlov), is Karlovy Vary, which is actually a sister city to Carlsbad, CA, which I’ve never been to, but sure. Known as a “spa city” this town is known for hosting visitors who want to relax in the mineral springs and go skiing. (Read: lots of wealthy people).

Sip a cup of tea at Republica Coffee – Or, you know, have a cup of coffee

Buy a souvenir cup and drink up some of the mineral water Karlovy Vary is famous for – It, um, an acquired taste? It’s supposed to have wonderful healing properties, so try it at least once! And if it’s not for you, at least you have a cool shot glass to take home!

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Hike (or take the tram) up to the Diana Observation Tower – With a little bit of sweat and determination (only if you hike, you weirdo), you’ll be rewarded with a sweeping view of the whole city. You’re also in the middle of the forest, so it’s a nice time to take a breath and relax for a bit.

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Relax in a Mineral Bath….If You Show up on a Weekday at Spa 5 *face palm* – Like….who closes of their main attraction on the weekend. So frustrating, but we were determined to make the best of it and utilized their whirlpools and jets. It was a community pool vibe for sure, but lemons into lemonade, right?

Dinner and Drinks at Pepe Lopez – By no means an authentic Mexican dining experience, the staff was really friendly and their drinks were spot on and reasonably priced. Bonus points for iPad menus.

 

This is just the start, people. There are tons of cute Czech towns waiting for you to visit (jk lol probably not, but still go!)

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Tuesday: 8 Hours in Copenhagen

A brief history of my love for Copenhagen: It all started last spring. I was having a rough time and had started to read some not quite self-help books, but kind of. It wasn’t on purpose, I’d just come across some recommendations and needed something to read. First, it was The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck by Sarah Knight. Really transformative, read it if you haven’t. Then, a couple books later I ended up reading The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking. I don’t know if these two books are ever talked about in the same context , but they are what helped pull me out of a very bad slump.

In The Little Book of Hygge, Wiking talks about the Danish concept of hygge, which loosely translates to coziness akin to being curled up on a couch reading a good book during a thunderstorm. The tenets of hygge largely focus on the “little things in life” – being comfortable, spending time with people you like, and eating good food. How could I not be on board with that? So I’ve become low key obsessed with the idea of hygge and how I can create a hyggelig atmosphere everywhere I go. So, when it was time to book my flight back to NYC and I found a flight with an 8 hour layover in Copenhagen, I knew I had to do it. (And by found, I mean, sought out on purpose).

What does one do for 8 hours the capital city of Denmark? Let me tell you…

Have Breakfast at Next Door Cafe 

I just had a simple breakfast of bacon and eggs with some tea, but the best part of Next Door Cafe is their quirky decor. From clear glass tables adorned with mementos from diners past underneath like a makeshift gallery (think:notes, tickets, and someone even managed to stick in a pack of birth control pills).  Such a cool vibe and a great way to start the day.

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Stop by Tivoli Gardens  

A historic and fully operational amusement park, it was especially cute with all of its winter decorations. I didn’t go inside, because as much as I love amusement parks, I was on a time crunch. Took a couple of photos and kept it moving.

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Take a photo in Nyhavn 

This is where every tourist (myself included) takes their standard “Copenhagen picture.” The canal, the vibrant, colorful buildings, it’s absolutely worth stopping for the photo op.

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Take a Canal Cruise

An ultimate tourist activity, but if you’re short on time, it’s a great way to get some information about the city and historical context. The tour I joined was right there in Nyhavn and was about an hour long. It was a little chilly sitting outside, but I felt that I was in a prime photo-taking spot. We passed by the famous Little Mermaid statue (a bit disappointing because it’s so tiny) and went underneath some precariously low bridges, and just really got to see parts of the city that I probably wouldn’t have gotten the chance to on foot or by public transportation. The last canal cruise I took was in Amsterdam, but for some reason I don’t really remember much of it…

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Visit Freetown Christiana

If you’ve been around for a while, you know I LOVE graffiti and street art. It’s my absolute favorite and there’s loads of it in Freetown Christiana. It’s actually this semi-autonomous town that was founded in the 70s (a vibe you’ll pick up right away) that is home to art galleries, music spaces, and a few places to eat.

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Relax and have a Chai Latte at Espresso House 

Okay, so Espresso House is a chain, which is generally frowned upon on The Bronx Socialite. (*accepts stern talking to & finger wagging & judgment*) This is the very last thing I did before heading to the airport. I was tired. Sue me. I cozied up with my notebook and did a bit of writing while sipping on my latte. It was a nice way to wrap up my short trip to Copenhagen.

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Was 8 hours enough? Of course not. But it was a really great way to spend what could have been 8 hours stuck in the airport. Bleh. I can’t wait to go back.

Travel Tuesday: Vienna

Booked during a night fueled by hard cider and champagne (obviously a winning combination), to say that my trip to Vienna was spontaneous might be an understatement. Literally booked at like 8 pm to leave at 9 am the next morning. (Shout out to friends who will go an adventures like this with you! Hi Lexie!) Such is the beauty of traveling in Europe.

At first, Vienna felt very similar to Berlin. (It could just be the fact that everyone speaks German…) I was not a fan of Berlin, so I was wary. But it was actually really refreshing to be on a trip that wasn’t packed with a full itinerary.

Where We Stayed 

My friend found what I’ll go on record as saying is the hostel with coolest room that I’ve ever stayed in. Our room at Hostel Ruthensteiner was a 6 person dorm that was Sigmund Freud-themed. It was complete with beautifully painted lockers where you could write down your dreams , a chaise lounge for spilling out your innermost thoughts to unsuspecting fellow travelers, and some vintage globes and maps.

The common area had musical instruments for visitors to pick up and play and an assortment of games, which we took advantage of on a chill Saturday evening. Oh and they had, by far, the friendliest staff when we checked in.

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What We Did

Lots and lots of sightseeing. We didn’t pay to go in any of the palaces, but they were nice photo ops:

  • Schönbrunn Palace – Lots of walking to the top, but a nice place to sit and take in the view for a bit.

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  •  Belvedere Palace – There’s a sprawling, intricately decorated garden that was impossible for me to capture it properly on camera, but I can’t even imagine how beautiful it must be in the spring blooming with flowers.

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  • St. Stephen’s Cathedral – Located in the city center, you can’t miss this towering cathedral. For some reason, we were never around it in the daytime, but it’s architecture is reminiscent of Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest I mentioned in my last post.

Haus der Musik 

A huge, interactive music museum that allows visitors to not only learn about Vienna’s rich history as a home to many talented classic musicians, but also make music of their own. It was a very cool experience, even as someone who isn’t into classical music.

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Hundertwasserhaus 

Super cool building that was designed by the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who is well known for using bright colors and rejecting “straight lines” in his work.

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Vienna Nachmarkt

Part flea market, part food market. We had some really great breakfast here. See next section 🙂

Where We Ate (and Drank!)

Travel Shack Vienna

Our first night we decided on a whim to sign up for a pub crawl, which was slated to start at Travel Shack Vienna. Hijinks ensued because the website was very unclear that it would be starting there on this date instead of some other location we went to first. (Read the fine print VERY carefully. Then, read it again!) Anyway, we ended up there, which we were very wary. Let me explain.

If you’re familiar with the college bars, Bar None or Continental in the East Village in NYC, it’s that sort of vibe. If you’re not, picture: bras hanging from the rafters, bros ordering pitchers of beers, crowds so thick you can barely move, shots with “risqué” names. Really not my scene. We were almost convinced that the pub crawl was a scam because there wasn’t any clear indicator that anyone was in charge. People we asked looked at us like we were crazy.

Eventually we saw someone with a list and asked if she was with the pub crawl and she said she was. She introduced to the host (who was a super chill guy.) However, as the night wore on, he informed us that not enough people had signed up and we’d have to reschedule or request a refund. At this point, we’d already gotten drinks of our own so we decided that we’d reschedule for the time being. It was disappointing, but the host ended up treating us to a free shot, which was nice of him.

We thought the night might end up being a wash, until they announced that there was karaoke in the next room, which is really just a sign from the universe that we were meant to be there. We were one of the first ones in there, singing from a microphone that came down from the ceiling. Whole room karaoke can be hit or miss, but really everyone who came into the room just ended up being part of one giant musical act. It ended up being a really great time.

Cafe Landtmann

This was a very cute (but not particularly cheap) cafe that apparently Freud used to frequent. We stopped in for some tea and pastries, which was nice, but nothing really breathtaking. I also am not a coffee drinker, so I didn’t partake in the famous Viennese coffee.

Stella (at Naschmarket)

I love breakfast, especially when it comes with a bunch of extras. I ordered the Viennese breakfast, which consisted of: a soft boiled egg, cheese, a croissant, an entire bread basket, and tea. A total carb overload, but lucky for me, I don’t care about shit like that.

I don’t know that I would necessarily return to Vienna any time soon, but I definitely enjoyed my time there.

Side note: I really really miss croissants. Where are the best croissants in the Bronx?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Tuesday: Budapest

Happy Travel Tuesday! This week I’ll tell you about my trip to Budapest, Hungary.

As it turns out, I’m really horrible at geography and I’m even worse at history. (I was asleep a lot…) Teenage Lisa really wasn’t interested in European history and College Lisa decided to take History of New York , so it’s fair to say there are a lot of gaps in my knowledge of European history, including the Cold War and the Iron Curtain. When I decided to embark on this journey to Prague, I imagined lots of gray. Just…everywhere. Buildings, clothing, food, whatever. I’d done my research (into brunch spots and coffeeshops, obviously the important stuff) but I figured those were the exceptions. Instead, Prague turned out to be one of the most beautiful cities I visited while in Europe.

Now, Budapest.

Budapest looks the way I thought Prague would. There’s a lot of gray. Where I was traveling, of course. I can’t speak to the entire city, but certainly not as colorful as Prague is. The two cities are often compared and whether that’s fair or not, I can’t say, but Prague was my point of reference, so there it is. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t beautiful in its own way, though, quite the opposite. Enough prologue, though, let’s get to it.

Where We Stayed

After my week long solo trip to Spain and Portugal, it was nice to go on this trip with my friends and Husband. We decided to stay at an Airbnb in the Josefov neighborhood. It was a super cozy space and since we were only there for the weekend, it was exactly what we needed.

What We Did 

Parliament

This building is huge! Also, it’s pretty cool to look at, which is really all we could do. We only spent a couple of minutes here.

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Castle Hill

Home to Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, and the Holy Trinity Column. This is the go-to spot in Budapest for tourists. Be sure to take the funicular for a cutesy (albeit short) experience.

My personal favorite was the Holy Trinity Column. We didn’t go inside, but the colors and architecture of this building were really beautiful and unlike anything I’ve seen before.

Fisherman’s Bastion is a cool piece of architecture as well, but I was more interested in its maze-like passages that made it seem like I was in some sort of medieval labyrinth.

Buda Castle has the most amazing view of the city. We happened to get there as the sun was setting and the street lights were coming on and it was gorgeous.

Thermal Baths

You can’t come to Budapest and not try at least one thermal bath. We managed to squeeze in visits to two. These thermal baths are said to have healing properties. I can’t say that I necessarily felt healed, but given the fact that it was cold and snowy the entire weekend we were here, it was definitely a welcome reprieve from the weather.

The first one we went to was Gellert Spa and Bath. Simply put, it was a fantastic time. There are different rooms that house different baths of varying temperatures. There are also steam rooms, saunas, and even ice baths. (You have to try it! I’m not saying you’ll like it, but definitely worth trying once in your life.) On top of that, it’s really just beautiful. The green and blue hues and fountains make for a really luxurious time.

The second one we went to (in the snow) was the Szechenyi Bath. This is one of the famed outdoor baths, with good reason. I was really nervous to go out into the snow in my bikini to make it down the stairs to the pool, but what a unique experience. The bath, of course, is super warm, but with the steam rising from the pool, you’ll quickly forget that it’s freezing outside and just get to relax. Getting out of course, is a mission. Inside, I’ll say that I liked Gellert Spa and Bath’s offerings a bit more, but Szechenyi also had some cool features. In addition to steam rooms and saunas, there was a color room and showers that alternated cold and hot water.  Definitely a can’t miss if you’re in Budapest.

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Where I Ate (and Drank!)

STIKA 

Stika is the sort of place that wouldn’t be out of place in gentrified Brooklyn. Minimalist decor, tons of different coffee options made by the bearded and tattooed barista, etc. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my brunch here, I’m just painting a picture for you. I got my brunch go-to, eggs benedict and chai latte. The eggs benedict were great, the chai latte was just okay. There was a bit of a wait, but not too unbearable. It was a nice start to the day.

Steg Fish Bar

I read about this place on Great Trips’ Instagram and it came in handy when we were starving after visiting Gellert. We wanted to try something Hungarian, but something also a little modern and Steg was the best of both worlds. I ordered  fish soup and a wrap. Both were pretty good, but I think I liked the fish soup more. It was something new and had a nice kick. Bonus points for having games on the tables and for fantastic service.

Szimpla Kert

Budapest is famous for what are known as ruin bars. Started out in abandoned, run down buildings, they’re known for their cheap drinks and quirky decor. Szimpla Kert is credited as being one of the very first ruin bars. It’s really a sight to behold, with art, signs, objects, and lights everywhere – on the walls, ceilings, every single nook and cranny. It’s wild. There are also live performances, but we didn’t get to see any when we were there. We were there on a Saturday night, so it was pretty busy, but not packed to the point where you couldn’t move.

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Budapest was such a fun trip and really took me by surprise. I can’t wait to visit again in the warmer weather.