The morning of 1st January when most people were struggling to get out of bed, or actually they went to bed at that time I started to feel an inner push, an urge which did kick me out of bed in the early hours. Something repeatedly was telling me ‘what you do today will reflect on your entire year, get up and be productive’. I took my morning shot of coffee, with an unusually fair amount of time devoted for breakfast and went on to immerse myself in a couple of projects I have started have been planning to start recently. My New Year’s resolution for 2014? Stop dreaming about things, get up, get out and just get it!
Printa design shop
With clear mind, boosted up, one of these sunny days I hit the downtown of Budapest just to hang out a bit. Going in and out of small streets I explored a lot of hidden gems. In recent years the small side streets and alleys of Budapest began to be home to a variety of unique local concept stores, thematic cafeterias, vintage galleries and hip wine bars the fame of which is mostly spread by word of mouth among the locals.
If you are around Budapest and tired of the usual Hop-On Hop-Off (not that I don’t take it sometimes), taking this short afternoon tour will definitely get you in the spirit of the city.
Get to the heart of the city, Deak square (all three metro lines connect here), good enough as a starting point. Go up on Kiraly street (there is a CBA shop on the corner), then take the second right to Rumbach S. street. Under house number 10 in a building pretty much broken down from the outside you find a great concept store inside. Printa (7th district, Rumbach S. street 10.) is a design shop, a gallery, a silkscreen studio and a café at the same time. Offering eco-friendly garments and accessories, limited edition silkscreen printed graphics, interior design items and a place to sit for an espresso this is a perfect spot for the urban traveler to pick up some one-of-a-kind items mostly made of recycled objects. Check out the chandelier created of used plastic bottles, the bag made of seat belts, or the ring crafted of old keyboard buttons. If time doesn’t matter and want to immerse yourself in the world of screen-printing you can do so by attending their 2-hour workshop right at the spot (preliminary registration required).
Screen prints, contemporary design, recycled objects at Printa design shop and silkscreen studio Budapest
If you got the grip of shopping get back to Kiraly street and continue your way further down until you reach Latomas (7th district, Kiraly u. 39.), a ready-to-wear apparel store. The friendly atmosphere, unique selection and affordable prices make the place distinct. /The Kiraly street store only offers women collection, men should head right to their showroom featured in an old civic building (7th district, Kertesz u. 20. – appr. 15 mins walk)./
Chic and affordable – ready-to-wear apparel store in Budapest
A few steps back in Kiraly street, turning left to Kis Diofa street, going down the road to Klauzal square where the gallery of Chimera-project (7th district, 5, Klauzal square) is located. With six exhibitions a year the place is devoted to thematic displays of local contemporary artists. I was lucky to be able to sneak in just after the closing time of the current (now past) exhibition, ‘Extension’. With alternative realistic mock-ups, futuristic paintings (which by the way are not too far from reality), and horroristic installations the works showcased definitely take you to another level and make you think beyond the obvious. The founders of the gallery are very much involved in international artistic events and started with their project in Budapest in 2012. It’s hidden, it’s exceptional, it’s dynamic and it’s definitely worth a visit. The next thematic exhibition, namely ‘The Intolerable Image’ kicks off on 23rd January 2014, I will certainly be there.
Imre Debreczeni – Birth of sci-fi (oil painting), 2013
Zsofia Keresztes – The wonderful harvest of the fake tree (paper, wire, tape, plasticine, acrylic spray, polystyrene, vlies), 2013
Back to Kis Diofa street, take the first left to Dob street and from there the first right to Kazinczy street, you come across Cafe Analog (7th district, 35, Kazinczy street) , a tiny place that is difficult to categorize at first sight. No worry, just step in and find yourself in a small world of top-notch analogue cameras, vibrant colors, old-school style and state-of-the-art technology. Offering a wide variety of Lomography cameras, the shop also serves as a photo lab and café to make your experience one of a kind. The staff is very professional and happy to answer all your questions either you are just in to browse around or you are a skilled photographer. If you are enchanted by the ambience just grab a hot tea and a cookie to get fully immersed in the analogue sphere of Lomography.
Lomography and many more – analogue cameras at Cafe Analog in Budapest
Kazinczy street is the hub for the ruin pub lovers, it’s a must try in Budapest. Szimpla kert (14, Kazinczy street) – the pioneer of them, the open-air Koleves Kert (37-39, Kazinczy street), and Ellato kert (48, Kazinczy street) can all be found here.
At this point I wanted to finish my design hunting tour, and head on to my favorite wine bar for a glass of well deserved sauvignon blanc. But I recently read about a photo gallery that I badly wanted to check out. So I went to Astoria and from Rakoczi road turned right to Magyar street. On my way I passed by an interesting, colorful place and I was like, let me check this out later. So I continued till I reached number 26, the Vintage Gallery (5th district, 26, Magyar street) home to modern Hungarian photography. Small, cozy place, modern photos from the XX. century, Hungarian artists, black and white, was worth the visit.
Andre Kertesz – Elizabeth and Andre, Lagymanyos, 1920
The spot I saw earlier definitely did not let my mind at rest. So on my way back I stopped at number 22. The entrance is colorful, the name is Colorbar (5th district, 22, Magyar street). It does not look like a bar, so what is this? I went up the stairs, opened the door and literally just fell into a new dimension. It is all about retro, all about design, all about recycling, all about art. I got into a great conversation with the person in the shop who turned out to be the owner and was kind enough to explain the history of the place. He started as a jewelry and accessory manufacturer, using all kinds of objects and materials, like earrings made of memory chips, belt made of bicycle tires, and so on. But since he always had a passion for pieces from 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s he started to stack things up and just put everything under one roof. The concept definitely worked, people find them, and the shop managed to get a sound amount of local and international loyal customer base. They believe that shopping should be an experience and the experience is based on how you connect with your customers. Therefore every year they take part of a great initiative, Stylewalker, a chic evening program where you are guided through the hottest design spots and showrooms of the 5th district. Music, wine and fun make the event unforgettable.
Reused, recycled, restored – retro lamps and accessories at Colorbar
When sun goes down, means wine o’clock to me. Time to get to Doblo (7th district, 20, Dob street) to try some amazing Hungarian wine. When an old warehouse like building is transformed to a wine bar, without changing its genuine character, placing renovated furniture, and much beloved objects from our grandparents’ time, things can’t go wrong. Impeccable service, careful selection of wine and prosecco (and many more), wine tasting events, fresh food, live music all together guarantee a casual atmosphere. Nothing else you need for a great night out in the city of culture and constant vibe.
The most beautiful wine bar in the city – Doblo