Ruin Pubs are bars that have been opened up in dilapidated buildings that were partially destroyed during WWII. They are usually decorated with random furniture and decorations that have been gathered from anywhere that they can find them. The decorations are colorful, whimsical, and don’t follow any particular themes other than uniqueness. Because of their popularity, they can be quite busy, noisy, and sometimes a little rowdy. We went late afternoon to early evening and stayed away from the late night crowds.
The original Ruin Pubs opened in the Jewish Quarter of Budapest, which is now a center of wonderful restaurants and shops, as well as the pubs. Although some of the pubs serve food, the beer, wine, and mixed drinks are the real focus of the Ruin Pubs. We went to the original Ruin Pub called Szimpla Kert, often just referred to as Szimpla, which definitely lived up to the reputation. It was quirky, fun, and a little noisy, especially as more and more people came to the pub. To be fair, it isn’t the cleanest of environments, but you don’t go to a Ruin Pub expecting an elegant experience, you should expect it to be a little on the rough side.
Today there are over a dozen Ruin Pubs in Budapest and there are several companies that will take you on a guided pub crawl. Obviously, you don’t need a guide to do a Ruin Pub Crawl as you can find plenty of maps online that will show where each of the more popular pubs are. Even if you’re not into bars and drinking, visiting a Ruin Bar to see the eclectic decorations and experience the unique atmosphere is at least worth a visit. Many of the Ruin Pubs don’t open until at least 5:00 pm, so be sure to check on the hours of the pub you’re planning on visiting before heading there.
Despite some cold and rainy weather, we managed to have a wonderful second day in Budapest yesterday. The highlight of the day was the Dohany Street Synagogue, also known as the Great Synagogue since it is the largest synagogue in Europe. It is fascinating and beautiful, but the history of the holocaust that accompanies it is equally tragic. Afterwards, we went to one of the ruin bars in Budapest, which are bars built in dilapidated buildings with an artistic and colorful flair. Many more places to visit tomorrow, but here is a taste of our day today.
To say that there are a lot of pubs in Dublin is an extreme understatement. If you are in the mood for a pint, there are options around every corner and down every street and alley. Needless to say, we did not visit anywhere close to all of the options that were available, but the we truly enjoyed the ones that we did visit. Some of them served much more than your typical bar food, while others served exactly what you would expect, fish and chips, bangers and mash, and the iconic Irish breakfast.
We especially enjoyed the pubs that were converted from old buildings such as The Bank on College Green and The Church. The Bank on College Green is obviously a former bank, but the site has been occupied even longer than its conversion to a bank in 1892 by Belfast Bank. Its location near Trinity College makes it a popular location for tourists as well as college students. The ornate decorations and stained glass window are obvious signs of the wealth of the banking industry even during the turn of the century. The Church is a restaurant pub converted from St. Mary’s Church in 1997 after the church closed in 1964 and remained abandoned. One of the interesting things about The Church is that they kept most of the original features of the historic site and there is even a self-guided tour that you can take that features a bust of Arthur Guinness, Baptismal, Gallery, Tower, Burial Crypts, and more.
We were celebrating our mother’s 79th birthday on our visit to Ireland, so we didn’t stay out late, but there are many options for listening to authentic Irish music, dancing, and general nightlife. One of the most famous is The Temple Bar, which is located in the heart of the area also known as Temple Bar. One of the other interesting pubs that we visited was T.P. Smiths, which had a unique spiral staircase made from copper to resemble brewing vats. There is also an interesting mosaic in the main bar that adds to the atmosphere. We have to admit, though, that it was its proximity to our hotel that caused us to visit this friendly pub a couple of times.
Finally, and certainly not least, was The Brazen Head, officially Ireland’s oldest pub. The pub itself has the feel that you would expect from the oldest pub in Ireland, stone walls and a dark atmosphere, but over time the pub has grown into a full restaurant and hotel with many floors of rooms to serve eager guests. We preferred the atmosphere of the old pub, but could certainly see the beer garden being a lively spot during a warmer time of year. No visit to Dublin is complete without visiting this famous spot, especially if you are a fan of historic pubs as we are.
As we mentioned, we could only scratch the surface of all of the pubs that Dublin has to offer. One could probably spend several months in Dublin before visiting even the majority of the offerings. Even with the reputation that the Irish have for their fondness to drink, it seems that the tourists take advantage of a visit to Dublin to drink like a local. We typically don’t need an excuse, but we enjoyed the sampling that we were able to experience during our brief time in the city. What truly makes each place wonderful are the people, everyone of these locations had friendly staff who were quick with a smile and a story if you were willing to listen.