I was in Budapest for the Sziget Music festival in August .. I had booked my tickets, accommodation and flights months in advance and decided to spend 10 days in the beautiful city of Budapest. Budapest was not at all what I expected. The city is actually split into two parts, Buda and Pest, split in the middle by the Danube River. The city has a real westernized feel to it. There’s a definite buzz to the place, with busy streets and plenty of McDonald’s and Burger King for the less adventurous eater.
My first full day in Budapest I spent on the Buda side, this is where the large castle is situated. The section had a massive church with spires that towered through the skyline and the castle started right in front of it, with the rampart running alongside. From those ramparts were spectacular views of the Pest side, with its numerous bridges and the huge Parliament building. The castle area was lovely plenty of beautiful architecture, and sculptures and even just the scenery.
The following day I went to the Terror House, this is the building that the Nazi- Hungarian leadership used during World War II and then the Communists used until 1956. The building is an elegant and beautiful building which witnessed some horrific scenes as it was the home to torture chambers and interrogation rooms The exhibitions give a glimpse of the horrible events which took place in Hungary during that period and there are hundreds of testimonial footage from survivors, although it was very disturbing it was also very interesting and I am very glad that I got the opportunity to see this place.
In the evening I went out with a big group from the hotels that were here for the music festival and we found the type of bar that could only be in Budapest. Recently there have been a whole load of bars popping up that have been built out of empty warehouses.
The areas are massive, with open courtyards and DJs or bands, and best of all hardly any tourists just the locals. What’s great is you don’t know where these places are so you basically have to see someone walking out of one because otherwise you’d never find it there are no advertising signs or lights etc, they just look like normal residential buildings. Once inside it was pretty cool the one we were in had real chilled out atmosphere, a pretty good DJ not playing anything too heavy and lots and lots of football tables..
After my night out, the following morning I decided to visit the Szechenyi Thermal Baths which are one of the largest spa complexes in Europe. It is also the first thermal bath of Pest. I spent the day at the baths there are so many thermal pools all with different temperatures…hot, warm, cold, and what’s great is that if it rains you just jump into a hot bath and its no problem. Technically you are supposed to dip into the various temperature pools to get the full benefit of the spas and not stay in the same one for too long, which is exactly what I did and I have to say my skin has never felt that good!!
Today was the first day of my main reason to be in Budapest the Sziget Music festival pretty much a week of partying. The festival once again had a great line up including the Kooks, Kaiser Chiefs and my favorite man in the world Pete Docherty who was playing with Babyshambles and the Killers who were closing the show.
Sziget Festival takes place on Óbudai-sziget which translates into Old-Buda Island, an island situated in the Danube. From the river, the trees on the island are so thick and dense that you wouldn’t even know that there was a festival taking place it’s only the massive large helium balloons with Sziget in large letters floating over the island that gives it away.. As well as the music there were lots of other things going on such as cabaret, performances, films, fine art, crafts, literary presentations and loads more there was so much to see it was great…There are 24-hour clubs and beer gardens, karaoke stands and as at any festival a Hari Krishna recruitment centers, anything and everything you could ever need and as for the beer it was pretty good and cheap around £1.50 a pint which is pretty good compared to what we pay at home.
I also enjoyed the Latin village where I danced the morning away to salsa class taught be a Brazilian dance group, I drank tea in the Moroccan tea rooms and joined in an African coffee making ceremony which was just great. I stumbled across a traveling circus area, as well as a massive water puppet theatre from Vietnam.
Ok so for the music of the festival.. Iron Maiden opened the festival and played a great set belting out most of their 80’s hits including ‘Aces High’ and ‘Number of the Beast’..
There was a real mixture of people at the festival lots of metal heads who diminished during the evening which revealed a more normal crowd plenty of hippies, students and even the fluffy boots had made it to Budapest…
Over the next few days I watched The Kooks who played a really energetic sets and one of the best that I’ve seen from the band, when they launched into Naive everyone just went nuts…One of the funniest thing I heard was when Ricky from the Kaiser Chiefs came on stage and shouted ‘How you doing Bucharest’! .. Wrong country Ricky someone obviously didn’t receive his geography g.c.s.e but the band played well and it was great to sing along to ‘Ruby’ and ‘I Predict A Riot’ I was lucky enough to watch REM where 70,000 people crammed the stage to watch the band who did not disappoint. Michael Stripe was awesome and given the fact they are a pretty old band they sounded fantastic and favorites where ‘The One I Love’ and ‘The Man on the Moon’
The final day included going to watch Pete Docherty’s Babyshambles and for those who know me you can only imagine how excited I was. I got there very early so that I could be right at the front of the main stage. The performance wasn’t great but he is just awesome on stage and there were moments of genius from the band with ‘Down the Albion’ and ‘Delivery’ which I haven’t heard live for some time…
On the final night The Killers, closed the festival, this was a band I had really been looking forward to seeing as I hadn’t seen them before and they were great and with tracks such as You Were Young’ and ‘Sam’s Town’ they closed the festival with quality.
After that I headed back to my hotel which I had also pre booked for after the festival and slept for about 2 days solid awaking for food only !! The festival was awesome and the city is so worth seeing.
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