The last time I was in Budapest, let alone in the Great Market Hall, it was without a currency converter accessible on my i-pod. I’m pretty sure I spent about $50.00 on a handmade Hungarian embroidered doily. Seriously. I remember getting back to Prague and doing the math, freaking out over how much I spent on A DOILY, and then promptly decided I shall enjoy the sh*t out of that doily.
It’s currently in a box in my parents’ house in Kentucky. I don’t think Andrew believed me, until he figured out the currency conversion of the long pieces of embroidery work on display on the second floor of the Great Market Hall.
“That’s $600.00?” He looked at me incredulously.
“Yep. Now you see how mine could have cost $50.00? Aren’t you glad I already got that out of the way? Now we don’t have to stop, because I already have one!” I tried to concentrate on the excitement of this thought, rather than the embarrassment over my rookie souvenir purchase.
The first floor, when you walk into the market has a lot of meat or fruit and vegetable stands. Some have spices including touristy souvenir spice sets. There are a few flower and newspaper stalls off to the sides.
We read in Lonely Planet not to miss out on the basement- something that I had missed out on before (when I was too busy negotiating a “good price” for my doily). We went down, but only found a few pickle shops. We did get some really tasty cheese stuffed peppers though!
The woman behind the pickle counter thought it was funny when we only asked for six stuffed peppers. I don’t think she gets many tourists as customers… She humored us though and we walked away with a little bag of peppers and an equally little bag of pickles to have for later.
One thing I regret is arriving to the market hall absolutely not hungry at all. For some really strange reason, we’ve been having a really hard time finding an authentic Hungarian restaurant to dine in! We’ve eaten Thai, Mexican, chicken wings, take-away slices of pizza… but the only Hungarian restaurants we saw were in the expensive touristy area near the river. Where were the small (and dirty) Hungarian holes in the wall that served excellent goulash and cheap langos?
The answer: The Great Market Hall.
If you have the chance, go when you’re hungry and walk around a little bit, but make a beeline for the food stalls on the second floor. They all looked wonderful!
One of Andrew’s favorite things about traveling around the world with me is when we roll into a city I’ve already been to and I have to find a specific restaurant or store or food stand that may or may not still be in existence. Half the time, this is NOT Andrew’s favorite thing. Sure, it’s great, when the bahn mi stand IS in fact still on the corner of the same hostel and serves Andrew an amazing sandwich… But when we’re in the middle of Budapest walking up and down streets looking for a bar I just can’t remember the name of, it’s a different story. (I just read this out loud to him and he insisted he didn’t mind, but it’s obvious, he’s just trying to be nice.)
“It has red walls… I thought it was called “Castro” or maybe “Cuba” or something like that… But it was sooo cooool!” I tried to remember and then stopped in front of another street insisting that we walk down. We walked past this place below. I wasn’t sure, but we stopped to have a drink anyway. I have a picture of ‘the cool bar’ in Kentucky. We’ll compare upon our return.
We wandered back towards our place afterwards, but not before I dragged Andrew into a pretty awesome thrift/vintage/independent designer boutique, Retrock on our way home. I loved it. I loved the store displays. I loved the selection. I loved that the dude behind the counter said “Sure” when I asked if I could take some photographs, and then loved it even more when he seemed to appreciate receiving my card so he could see my photos. I would have spent a small fortune on freshly designed cropped t-shirts and vintage leather bags if it wasn’t for this trip around the world. Although this store has been excellently curated, it’s not exactly the Eastern European thrift store for those traveling around the world (on a budget no less).
While searching the web to link up Retrock, I stumbled upon some possibly helpful thrift store listings in Budapest, in case you’re interested. I wish I would have done this while we were there and spent the day combing thrift stores!!! So for next time, I’ll remember to check out “How to and Where to Thrift-Store-Hop in Budapest” (although, to be fair, I did stop in Second Chance –1061 Budapest, Király Str. 28.- and I was not impressed with their selection. When I was there, it felt like a lot of racks full of 90s clothes without the occasional super good find from the 60s or 70s if you know what I mean…
I also found this map of thrift stores and a list of The best vintage shops in Budapest. Next time, I’ll spend a day cross-referencing the map and list and my own finds and see what I can come up with, unless of course someone else gets to Budapest and scouring the city’s best thrift and vintage stores before me! Let’s hope they share their list with me!