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Budapest shopping (Budapest)

Our shopping expedition starts in József nador Square (Budapest, V. district) where a visit to the Herend shop is like stepping into an exhibition of the finest applied arts. Herend porcelain is, quite rightly, one of the industries Hungary is most proud of. Over the years Herend hand-painted vases, plates and dinner services have won several gold medals at world expos.

Shopping Budapest 
Just as in any metropolis anywhere in the world so too in Budapest there are thousands of temptations to get out and shop, although it’s not a bad idea to know beforehand what is especially worth taking home as a souvenir and which are the best quality Hungarian products.
Our shopping expedition starts in József nador Square (Budapest, V. district) where a visit to the Herend shop is like stepping into an exhibition of the finest applied arts. Herend porcelain is, quite rightly, one of the industries Hungary is most proud of. Over the years Herend hand-painted vases, plates and dinner services have won several gold medals at world expos. One pattern is named after Queen Victoria because the nowfamous butterfly design was first made for her. In a similarly fashion, a Persian motif is named after Sissy, empress of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and a remarkable bird pattern is linked to the Rothschilds.
Just a block away, on entering Vorosmarty Square we are faced with a choice: do we drop in to Gerbeaud, the most distinguished cafe in the capital, with its delicious teas, coffees and cakes, or head to the other side of the square and the Luxus department store selling global brand name clothing as well as Hungarian gifts and perfumes? Whichever you choose, you won’t be disappointed!
Vaci Street linking Vorosmarty Square with Fovam Square represents the main artery of the inner city. A stroll down “Vaci utca” takes one past jewellers, perfumeries, brand name clothes shops from Marks and Spencer to Cottonfield, a C&A store, boutiques and bijouteries. But leave time for the foreign language bookshop selling translated works by several Hungarian authors. Then again, don’t forget to slide off down one or two of the side streets: you’ll discover boutiques and wine shops marketing the very finest quality Hungarian reds and whites.
Famous Szamos marzipan is available in Parizsi Street, and the confectionery’s ice cream is outstanding too. And since the number of shops that can be squeezed onto the street level is finite, enterprising Hungarians have moved underground: three shopping centres have been created out of old cellars. One shop in Feherhajó Street sells healing minerals, and in the middle of Vaci Street others trade in antique furniture, porcelain and kid’s clothing. In the meantime don’t forget to direct your eyes upwards occasionally: most of the buildings in the heart of town were raised in the late 1800s, among them there are several outstanding examples.
The Csók Gallery on the corner of Pesti Barnabas Street displays and retails works by modern Hungarian artists, but if you are interested in antiques, you’ll find them here too. Kígyó (Snake) Street is gradually turning into a street of porcelain: two shops selling the finest Hungarian porcelain face each other across the street. The speciality of the Zsolnay porcelain factory is its eosin glaze, a technique rarely employed in Europe. This iridescent glaze with its golds, greens and (more uncommonly) blues covers Zsolnay statues, plates and ash trays, while dining sets are characterized by an attractive ivory hue to the porcelain. The Herend shop sells single pieces, sets and statues patterned on classics created by the old factory established 176 years ago. Replacement pieces can also be ordered.
At Elizabeth Bridge an underpass takes us on to the continuation of Vaci Street. Passing the Downtown Auction House (Belvarosi Aukcióshaz), it’s fascinating to scan the regularly changing collection of shopwindow “treasures” small and large. Visit the Folkart Centrum at Vaci Street 58 for just the right gift to remind you of your stay in Hungary. 
Continuing up Vaci Street, we finally reach the ever-buzzing Budapest Central Market Hall with its incredible variety of quality foods. Encompassed within a building more than 100 years old, the market with its paprika garlands, strings of garlic, the fruits, vegetables, and on the first floor the flower-sellers and snack bars offering true tastes of Hungary create a kaleidoscope of colours, sounds, aromas, sights.
Typical Hungarian merchandise, for instance the world famous Tokaj Aszú, is to be found in the market.  The remarkable bouquet of the “Wine of Kings, King of Wines” is given by the grapes being left on the vine to shrivel in the sun, during which process they sweeten and wither. The number of puttony (panniers) which go into a barrel gives the Aszú’s puttony number, and the more puttony, the sweeter (and more expensive) the wine is. Unicum is one of the top bitters spirits in the world. Its absolutely unique flavour derives from a secret blend of aromatic herbs.
Apricot and plum brandies faithfully preserve the scent and flavour of the fruits they are distilled from. Whether marketed tinned or in an earthenware pot, Hungarian goose liver is excellent, and Herz and Pick salamis are similarly “hungaricum” products! Daily from 10 am in the “Fakanal” restaurant: cooking class under the guidance of a master chef. Learn how to cook some of the most popular Hungarian dishes. An expert sommelier holds a wine tasting session and at the same time speaks about the most famous wines from the Hungarian wine regions. 
The plaza opens up a different sort of entertainment and shopping experience. Virtually everything can be found in one place, the shops are open, enticing one to wander around, try out the scents, feel the quality of materials, try on clothes and so on. The most successful malls tempt the buyer in with some special feature, whether this be a waterfall Tropicarium, or Westernstyle setup. There is a skating rink on the roof of one ofthe buildings, with an ice disco in the evenings. Plazas, generally open throughout the weekend too, have become the favoured haunt of the young. Over the past few years malls have been springing up all over the capital, most at major intersections and metro stations (Western Railway Station, Vaci Road, Konyves Kalman Boulevard, Becsi Road, Margit Boulevard etc.). 
Folkart Centrum
Budapest, V., Vaci utca 58, 10 am–7 pm
Hungary’s largest folk handicrafts shop selling a huge range of authentic hand-made items, embroidery, hand-woven fabrics, costumes, pottery, porcelain, wood carvings, flasks, traditional painted Easter eggs and other gifts from every ethnographical region in Hungary. 
House of Hungarian Wines
Budapest, I. Szentharomsag square, midday–8 pm
700 different types of wine from 22 Hungarian wine regions. Wine tasting of 50 fine wines.

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