Our Time with Brain Bar
We’re calling our time at the conference “Budapest Beta” since it is a prequel to Budapest as the launch of this new lifestyle. Attending Brain Bar certainly shaped our introduction to Budapest. The organizers had kindly sent a person to the bus station to pick us up (we may have been the only attendees arriving by bus and not train) and take us to the conference hotel (review below), which made our entry to the city very easy. After checking in and settling in just a bit, we forced ourselves to get a second wind to attend Brain Bar’s opening party. The party began with a boat trip up the Danube to the Parliament building and back down. It was a really nice introduction to a truly beautiful city (with champagne!).
I think this story from our ride home from the party encapsulates our time with Brain Bar: the conference had arranged rides back to the hotel with a driver and we shared a ride with another couple. They are entrepreneurs who connect sci-fi writers to corporations to help businesses imagine the future (fascinating). In our conversation, we shared our story of the wonderful serendipity of planning to be in Budapest for the summer months before Chad was even asked to speak at the conference. The very stoic driver turned to our new friend in the front seat and says, “law of attraction” and the man immediately responds, “yeah, the secret.” Of course, I’ve read The Secret and follow it, so when we reached our destination, I explained the reference to Chad (who found the whole thing hilarious). Something about that whole scene delights me (though maybe you had to be there).
The next day the conference started in full swing and it was definitely full. We tried to attend one of the speakers I was interested in (a Google exec talking about social enterprise), but weren’t able to get into the main hall! So, we decided to take in a couple Budapest sights. The Central Market Hall was right next to the Brain Bar venue so we explored the vendors there and bought some awesome Hungarian cherries.
After a short rest, we decided to check out a couple of ruin bars. Honestly, I’m not sure I fully see what all the fuss is about with the ruin bars. The best and most famous one we visited, Szimpla Kert, was interesting in its decor and neat to have all the different little rooms, but it wasn’t a place where we wanted to spend a ton of time. But we did have a great meal on the same street at a restaurant called Fuego that serves roast chicken – highly recommend.
Chad’s panel was the next day, Saturday, and we arrived at the conference venue about an hour in advance. Everything related to the panel went really well – the conversation flowed, Chad made good points, and the audience seemed engaged. I was very intrigued by his fellow panelist who was also from the U.S., Miranda Wang. She’s an entrepreneur (and young!) whose company is creating ways to chemically recycle plastic into substances that will be competitive with their non-recycled counterparts (like a nylon you might use in clothes). Really interesting. We also had a chance that day to check out an exhibit that allowed people to control a floating shark with their minds! Our last Brain Bar experience was trying an interesting Hungarian pasta dish from one of their food trucks.
That afternoon, we headed over to Margaret Island (Margitsziget) to relax for a while in the park. It was more than a park though; it was practically a party. There were food stalls, music, crafts, and tons of people. After walking around a bit taking it all in, we spread out our towels in the grass and read for a while. It was a really lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon – we’ll definitely be back!
Sunday was moving day from our conference hotel room to our Airbnb. We spent the time between check out and check in at the Hungarian National Museum, which was near the hotel (which was kind enough to store our luggage). It was pretty well-done and gave us a good understanding of the history of Hungary, especially Nineteenth century and before. The Twentieth-century exhibits didn’t feel as cohesive and it is a very interesting time to us from WWI and separation from Austria to WWII to communism to democracy. But perhaps our brains were just tired by that point. I’ve read mixed reviews on the museum overall, but we found it a worthwhile way to spend about three hours. And nice to know a little about the different people Budapest’s various squares (and corresponding metro stops) are named after.
Review of Hotel Rum Budapest – Good hotel, good internet, strange bathroom
We had a really good three-night stay here in a medium room, which was a good size for us (a couple). We liked the location near plenty of restaurants and lovely walks in the mornings. The breakfast was very good with a great view from the top of the hotel. The room was clean and the staff was kind and helpful. The only downside was that I absolutely hated the bathroom – all glass with a heavy glass sliding door that was hard to open and close and limited privacy when you’re sharing a room. It was all part of the ultra-modern decor, which was nice, but really not our style. But overall, this is a really good hotel.