Our trip through Europe is taking us through a plethora of countries. Some which i had a list of things to visit and others, part of the route we were taking to get to Istanbul and meet my friend Ben, a seasoned expedition expert and his wife Sophee who are travelling overland from Singapore to the UK on their latest adventure ‘The Best Life in the World.’
Hungary wasn’t somewhere I had put masses of thought into other than wanting to see some gypsy and folk music there. I have a few albums of Hungarian folk and always adore any kind of gypsy music. Its awesome. Sadly, as I discovered upon arrival, during the summer local groups tend to travel to festivals and major tourist spots for the busy season ( and who could blame them) so there was a limited set of gig on. We had just missed the Summer festival so were feeling slightly disapointed. However a day wandering this utterly cool and happening city was more musical than we could have imagined.
Johns heart must sink every time I mention visiting a market. My pen-chance for vintage fashion, all things creative and delicious means he inevitably spends the day helping to carry some bag stuffed with colourful or smelly (cheese people cheese) contraband for the rest of the day. Might i add here that I will happily carry my own purchases but being the chivalrous gent that he is inevitably this doesn’t happen all the time. What a lucky girl!
Budapest was not to disappoint as we headed into the city centre via the metro. Our first thoughts were, ‘what fabulous vintage carriages!’. As always, looking at alternative ways to live, one of these would make an awesome home. Pick one up, pop it in a field, full refurb… you may see us on George Clark’s amazing spaces one of these days!
As it was Sunday our first stop was to the weekly farmers market held at the Szimpla Zert bar. As soon as we stepped inside we were spoilt for choice on where to look. The bar is situated in a stunning, tumbledown house, set around a courtyard. The decoration is eclectic, random, unique and downright awesome!
Recycling is the key word here, with old cinema seats, broken grand pianos, 1 legged garden chairs and soviet school gym equipment painted, decorated and combined together as pieces of up-cycled art.
Initially you don’t know where to look but the smell of the food is soon distraction enough. Wares are proudly displayed and put Borough market to shame.
There is everything here for a feast from fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade chutneys, expertly smoked sausages, cheeses and fat as well as breads and pastries fresh from the oven. A trio of young folk musicians perfected the setting with the sounds of their instruments as cool, young students and tourists drank cold beers seated on the higgledy piggledy collection of chairs.
After a taste or 2 of the chutneys and soups we left the market and walked straight into the first day of the Hungarian Jewish Festival. I had read about this online but didn’t know where it would be held. The other end of Kadinczy Utca, the street Szimpla Zert is on was cut off at one end with a band playing the most wonderful jewish music.
Packed from side to side and decorated with flags and balloons this was a celebration for the people whose community was once the biggest in Europe. All along the road people queued for food served from stalls. There was an array but all seemed like good hearty fare, all for the bargain price of 1000ft (£2.50). Sadly we had just eaten a delicious burger at a pop up street food courtyard called Karavan but we stayed for the music and soaked up the atmosphere of this wonderful celebration.
Pushing our way through the crowds we headed down the road to Oszdu Udvar craft market. A pretty little alleyway lined with restaurants, including a pottery cafe, this was a veritable delight of creations.
I can wholeheartedly say that the selection of wares for sale was some of the best i have seen in terms of inspired designing. Having worked for Camden market with the traders there and been to many such markets with my own brand JosyFlo it was a real pleasure to see such inspiring ideas.
Necklaces made from lace, Earrings crafted from delicate glass balls filled with coloured sand or gold, silk screened clutch bags, etchings and embroidery. I bought the most beautiful felted silk scarf from an artisan in shades of turquoise, green and white. Stunning. John, a print of drawing. Oh how wonderful it is to chat to the artist and discover the stories behind the pieces you buy.
Budapest in August is scorcio and all the shopping saw us fading fast. We passed numerous vintage shops which were shut on a sunday much to John, and my wallets relief. Our bags stuffed with purchases we took a walk up to Margaret Island, a park on an island in the middle of the Danube. As the city is made up of Buda and Pest perhaps this is the only true area which is Budapest! Its quite a walk if your tired so you may wish to take a tram. We are used to long walks round cities but were very happy to chill out in the shade of a tree for an hour or 2, re-charching our batteries before heading over to Kobuchi Kert for our evenings entertainment.
My gig googling the previous evening had led me here where a Rock and Roll and Rockabily night took my fancy. Kobuchi Kert is a great little outdoor venue in the grounds of a former very grand home in the north of the city. Like most of Budapest the house is delightfully shabby, however the bar and venue have a festival vibe with an array of trestle tables and a decent sized dance floor.
A basic but tasty menu of chicken and chips is served freshly cooked in garlic butter whilst the wide bar serves their speciality of fruit syrups and soda water with your choice of spirit. There was also cider and beer on offer however they didn’t serve standard mixers which was interesting so expect to try something different!
The warm up act were great fun, playing a mix of Rock N Roll classics. Both singers, with one on the double base, the other on guitar and harmonica. They were followed by the Soulfool band, again playing covers but really well… With awesome song choices. Each of the musicians was hugely talented, particularly the singer, sax player and keyboard player.I was expecting the main band to warm up with another to follow but I guess they couldn’t make it. It wasn’t a problem. The musicians that we saw had fantastic energy and the crowd was friendly and welcoming. I would thoroughly recommend checking out whats on there if your in town. It must be heaving on a Friday and Saturday night.
The night finished with a final happy revelation when we realised that the number 1 tram took us to within a 10 minute walk of our campsite. http://www.hallercamping.hu Within 1/2 an hour we were back after a fulfilling but long day.
I really liked Budapest’s spirit. There is so much positivity and excitement in the city. I cant wait to visit again at a different time of year to experience it again. Hopefully this time I will get to see the Gypsy and Folk bands I longed for but it seems that the heart of this city beats to many different rhythms and I love them all.