Are you a treasure hunter? Not yet? If you are interested in antiques, old tell-tale objects of the past, Budapest is crawling with these - you just have to know all the right places to look. The two key locations are Budapest's „antique row" near the Parliament and the Ecseri Flea Market in the south-eastern part of the city, near the Ecseri út Metro 3 stop.
Fifteen years ago, Falk Miksa utca had one state-owned antique shop called BÁV (they use the Venus of Milo as their logo). Similarly to Paris or Rome, the antique shops owners have realized that they can be more successful if they are in one street, giving the location a good name - there are over 30 antique shops in Falk Miksa utca today.
An annual festival (Falk Art Festival) amplifies their presence in Budapest's cultural life. There are tiny shops, which can barely hold more than one customer, and there are cavernous below-ground shops that hold enough treasure to furnish a palace.
There are shops specializing in such specific goods as jewellery and Oriental arts, and there are general shops selling everything from paintings and furniture to silver and rugs. Some of the bigger shops are also famous auction houses; wealthy Hungarian and foreign art collectors frequently make astronomical bids for famous pieces of art.
There are a couple of businesses that specialize in the works of a chosen artist or stage temporary exhibitions of the finest paintings by a particular school, thereby spreading the word and bringing to the attention of the general public the oeuvre of artists who have sunken into obscurity.
The Ecseri Flea Market is an altogether different world. The main second-hand market of Budapest, the Ecseri Piac (Piac means Market) is an exciting, bustling place, a cavalcade of old and new, where every object on sale has it own story. The market's atmosphere and size can be compared to Portobello Road in London, or the Paris Flea Market.
Besides the occasional sellers, most prestigious antique shop owners with shops in downtown Budapest also have little booths here. The market is located in the outskirts of Budapest and offers both high quality antiques and objects of smaller value for those seeking gifts.
It is best to visit the Ecseri Market on a Saturday morning, because that's when the market is at its busiest. A very important aspect of shopping here is that you MUST bargain with the seller - it's all part of the show; accepting the price right away is not customary.
You can go there even if it's raining, as nearly the whole area is covered against rainfall. Take Metro line # 3 to Ecseri út, and from there take bus # 54 to the market.