Best things are often found at approximately 3:24 a.m. during sleepless nights. That night was no exception. A blog post flickered on my screen in the dark of my room, of a place I barely knew.
The photos revealed little, though, except of the slowly crumbling exterior of a black structure, half dug into the ground. It was a masterpiece of socialist grandeur on a scale I’ve not witnessed before. The building was vast, had an indisputable air of importance, but most importantly – it was unknown to the exploring world. The wet dream of every explorer.
Interior shots were sparse at best, decades old, which meant it would be a shot in the dark. A good chance of failure, a slight chance of mediocrity, and a next to nothing chance of something extraordinary. That day Pluto must have aligned with the seventh rock of the second to last ring of Saturn because we were about to witness something extraordinary.
From the moment we hopped in through the window, the oh so typical smell of decay was there. We stepped out of the room and into the hallway that stretched out before us, completely clad in light woodwork and concrete. At its end, it opened up into a massive central chamber – socialism at its best. Concrete pillars pierced the space, wood was peeling off in strings from the ceiling, and the floor crumbled under our feet.
We were already completely in awe, but the best thing was yet to come. It was there when we came around one of the concrete pillars. We stood motionless for a while, trying to find the appropriate words but ending up just stupidly grinning and pointing. To the bar. The Mother of All Decayed Bars. The Bar Supreme. The Bar of All Bars. Well, you get it.
The rotten, decayed, completely overgrown epicness. Untouched, unspoiled, unseen. Spider webs connected the bottles of ancient drinks nestled perfectly in puddles of dust. Even all the years of vandalism spared it, and the vegetation on it flourished, turning it into a shrine of the strangest kind. It felt like we struck a gold mine, something rare and precious. We spent a couple of hours just at that spot, until the sun started fading and we were driven out by the coming night.
Nothing can beat that feeling I had, on that autumn day. The exhilaration of taking a risk, of going in with no expectations and going out with a replenished sense of “this is why we explore”. Of connecting to a place. Of not just finding it, but it finding me as well.
Thank you, Pluto.