Made in Hungary
You went to Budapest and all you got was a lousy t-shirt?
Well, this is not going to happen to you again. Here are my tips to make the fuzziest souvenir hunter happy.
Even if you are not the hip old-school-sneakers type, you should know about the cult Hungarian shoes and see if you can spot them, on the feet of stylish Hungarians.
The Tisza brand was established in the Hungarian town Martfű in 1949. Tisza produced boots for the Ministry of Defense in the 50s and 60s until it got a distinctive logo and produced popular sports shoes for the twenty-somethings in the 70s. The factory even produced shoes for Adidas. Now it is back again with a remake of original designs.
Location: 1062 Budapest at WestEnd City Center, Széchenyi István nagykörút 27/b and 1075 Budapest, Károly körút 1
You are looking for an authentic 50s outfit for some juicy role play with your love? This is the robe to dive right into the traditional life of a good housewife: the Hungarian Otthonka. Otthon means home – a reminder where to wear it and nowhere else! Made of functional synthetic fibres, cheap and durable, the Otthonka was Hungary’s greatest success in the fashion industry. No ironing!
It comes in every colour of the rainbow, shows off floral or psychedelic patterns, is about knee long, does not have a waist but massive pockets – basically a sleeveless button up. The Otthonka is a colourful, practical item of clothing that protects from dirt, cooking accidents and can be worn all day every day. The success probably lies in its straight cut, a shape that doesn’t fit any boy type so fits them all.
Spice things up with high heels.
A symbol of socialist working ethics. Don’t miss out on Hungary’s fashion history.
If you do not know what a Rubik’s Cube is, you got the wrong toys, youngster!
The Rubik’s Cube is the most famous brainteaser in the Universe. Its what kept me occupied in the 80s, when my parents needed some time on their own.
Invented by Ernő Rubik, patented in 1975, turned out to be Hungary’s greatest success in the toy industry. Ernő Rubik is the first self-made millionaire from the communist block and his success probably lies in the fact, that he wasn’t going for the best selling puzzle in history.
Rubik wanted a working model to help explain three-dimensional geometry and although no one else wanted that, everyone wanted the six sided cube to mess up. This is the typical order of steps to solve it: scrambling up the sides, managing to do about two sides, miserably failing to solve the rest, finally disassembling and restoring the Cube by putting individual cubies back together, present and pretend.
The Cube is impossible to be fixed, unless you are some overachieving whiz kid or… average Joe. What? Yes, I can solve the Rubik’s Cube! No, not in under a minute, like most cool people on you tube, I need more like 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the amount of motivational chocolate I receive.
So here is the good news: anyone can solve it when learning a set of algorithms, bringing the twenty-six individual cubies systematically together! (Mail me, if you like to know the secret, before I might do a post.)
Randomly twisting the Cube will not be able to fix it in a lifetime, with only 1 correct answer and 43, 252, 003, 274, 489, 856, 000 (gazillion-quintillion) wrong ones for the 3x3x3 Rubik’s Cube.
In Japan, Terutoshi Ishike had the misfortune of being a little too late with this 1980 patent for a cubelike puzzle identical to Rubik’s Cube. Anyway, in Japan, I found the Cubes to have versions with Hello Kitty and other sweeties. But Japanese Cubes are real monsters, I find them more difficult to do, because apart from colour, the position of the cutesy character has to fit as well. Here is mine – I gave up on the face correction of the yellow mouse. The other sides are fine. (Trust me.)
If you prefer this screaming Cube, this is where I found it.
This one falls under the most useless but wildest souvenir. A hand-painted wooden pencil of monstrous size. About The size of my arm. No kidding. When would anyone use the mega pencil? Give it to someone, to find out.
The emblematic work of Hungarian designer Bozzay. A characteristic two piece with an appealing round shape, the design has almost sculptural quality.
Here is the retro alternative, you can get at the most exciting confectionery in town – Sugar!
After a visit to the Ethnographic Museum in Budapest, I was going to get a nice Hungarian folk tattoo, inspired by traditional embroidery patterns. Don’t worry, just one of many moments of irrational enchantment.
Yeah, I better keep on looking for traditional floral Matyó and Kalocsai motifs on clothing, shoes, motorbikes…. But, hey, maybe it’s just the right thing for you. It sure looks good on Ukrainian women rights activist Inna Shevchenko, displayed at the World Press Photo exhibition in the mentioned Ethnographic Museum.
The most popular hip hop band in Hungary is from Budapest and was my favourite music feed during our stay. BËLGA does witty lyrics and is a lot of fun to listen to. I still can’t get the catchy songs out of my head (nor do I want to).
Get this mood enhancer, if nothing else.
If you do not fancy any of the above, Budapest is rich in souvenir shops that sell all kinds of ‘Hungarian’ stuff. Looking at armies of wacky Matryoshka dolls, you might want to put one to civil service in your home (country). Or, how about a crystal dolphin, a porcelain clown, or a good luck charm?
Budapest is the city of souvenir-dream come true!