It’s only now the penny has dropped. When I first started talking about moving to Budapest, one recurrent theme in the advice offered by soon-to-be-friends and those more experienced in the BP property trade, was ‘don’t buy in the 8th district’. Lord knows I heard it often enough for it to sink in. And I was sure it had.
Last week, the lovely MI invited me to dinner and asked me where I’d like to go. I wanted to stay local – I am conscious that most of my socialising is done over in the 6th and if I’m to lend any credence to my localism advocacy, I need to start patronising some back-street hostelries closer to home. We set off from the flat and instead of following my usual route up Ulloi út to the Korut, we turned right into what seemed to be one massive construction site.
While picking our way through bricks and mortar, breathing in the heady fumes of fresh concrete, I was struck by the incongruity of it all. It reminded me so much of when they first started ‘rebuilding’ inner city Dublin . Lots and lots and lots of new buildings going up, with lots of old ones having been demolished.
The restaurant, on Náp utca, doesn’t believe in advertising itself. On my own, I’d have walked past it. Inside it was dressed to kill. Yet we were the only diners. Friday night. Just us. In the ghetto. The 8th district.
We had drinks in the courtyard (udvár) and it felt slightly peculiar to be sipping on a rather nice Villanyi Rosé while the neighbours in the flats above the restaurant sat on their balconies, enjoying a cigarette and an after-work cocktail, while looking down on us from on high.
While walking through the same area the next afternoon, what got me most was the juxtapositioning of old and new and I wondered, for the fifty-millionth time, where the planners were!!!!!! When I was searching for my flat, HM knew not to even show one if I could look out any window and see a new build. Even though I lean more towards tradition than modernity, I like modern architecture. I can appreciate good design. I don’t think we need to replace like with like in a vain attempt to make time stand still. I do believe, though, that there’s a very fine line between tat and taste. And when it comes to designing a new building that will sit admist those long established, just a tiny bit of thought would make all the difference.
I am sure that of the new builds in BP have been pilfered from the Costa dels – monstrosities in shape and form, painted in colours that look wonderfully chic on Burano but gaudy in the Budapest sun.
Irish journalist Peter Murphy (think Damien Lewis with a pen), wrote an excellent article for the Budapest Sun recently – Where the names have no streets. It will tell you more about the 8th that I ever could.
In the meantime, life is good and all is well. The search for furniture continues. I’ve finally posted a picture of the piece that made my heart stop and I have added a rather quaint 1920’s stool and some really lovely etchings to my collection (still to be blogged). In the meantime, I’m weighing up to forints to see which way to go with my bookcase. Decisions, decisions.