on January 24, 2007
Look no further than the Great Market for your shopping needs in Budapest.The first level is full of food options, from meats and vegetables to dried fruits and nuts. You'll also find Hungary's famous paprika here in several types of packaging. (At less than $1 per package in most cases, paprika makes a great gift for the should-I-or-shouldn't-I people on your gift-giving list. Of course, more expensive options are available.) I picked up lots of paprika as well as some dried kiwi, which I had discovered and loved in Barcelona over the summer. It wasn't as good as it was there, but this is winter in Budapest, not summer in Spain—what can you expect? I still enjoyed it.On the next level you can find the typical souvenir-type booths with magnets, figurines, and mugs, but you will also find dozens of tablecloth booths. All the cloths are handmade and vary greatly in price. The small knitted pieces are the most beautiful—and the most expensive. Don't be afraid to bargain—there is lots of competition up there, and the vendors are eager for the sale.You will find it hard to browse, because the vendor will approach you and ask what you are looking for and offer to show you dozens of examples. It took me a long time to find what I was looking for, because I had a hard time moving on from a place when I realized they didn't have it.You will also find several wine booths, where you can purchase tokaji (which ranges in price from €3 to €50) and bull's blood wine. I bought some tokaji on the lower end of the price scale, and I thought it was really, really good. It's not so bitter as a typical wine. I highly recommend you try it—at those lower-end prices, it's silly not to.Even the guys had fun. "Jack and I are going to look for scarves," Joel said at one point. We all took our time and all came home with some Hungarian "treasures."
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