When I travel, I pick up souvenirs and gifts for a few relatives. Nothing schlocky but not super pricey either. Any suggestions for nice, unique gifts? Thanks.
We brought back tins of paprika, which we got in a grocery store. A customer, a local woman, advised us as to the best to buy.
I really liked the selection of things at the Memories of Hungary shop, right near St Stephen's Basilica. Quality items, unique, lots of hand-made but all from Hungary. I bought a T shirt with traditional kalocsa embroidery that I get tons of compliments on, plus there are food items, jewelry, ceramics, toys and and much more--something for everyone. I bought a few things for special people there, and for co-workers I found the folk art design painted wood items at the Great Market Hall (Nagycsarnok)--bottle openers, corkscrews, paprika set with wood scoop, etc to be both affordable and charming. I want to say I bought gifts for 6 people for around $25 US.
Vaci utca is a pedestrianized shopping street but it's mainly major European chain clothing stores like Desigual, etc--not a place to find bargains or the unusual. I did find one shop there to be utterly delightful, Pylones--a French brand of really fun, even goofy, plastic household items. There's also another Hungarian folk art shop on a side street--can't recall the name--with unusual items, textiles and ceramics.
If Christa hadn't beat me to it I would have suggested the exact same place by the Basilica. Memories is the best but there are a couple others within a few yards that are also better than average. Also, further down the pedestrian mall, on your right as you walk away from the front of the basilica is a music themed gift shop that is interesting.
On the ground floor of the Great Market Hall you can find all the paprika and goulash themed gifts. On the next floor up it is nothing but crafts, and some nice stuff and a lot of junk stuff as well. But interesting.
You have to walk down Vaci utca I guess, but don't spend too much money there.
Besides paprika, another lightweight foodie gift can be dried mushrooms, such as boletus edulis, a.k.a. porcini (in Italian) or king bolete. Prices vary by variety and prettiness of the pieces (but the largest, prettiest ones are usually a cheaper species with less flavor).
I would concentrate on Palinka in the small gift bottles, the afore mentioned paprika; but that purchased from a grocery so you know its fresh. Good paprika is expensive in the US. Tokaji wine and maybe pate if you buy it from a local grocery and not a tourist store.
+1 on the Paprika. I also brought back a pound of coffee from Cafe Gerbeaud for memory sake if nothing else.
Here is another alternative. Find a map and work your way to Falk Miska utca where it begins near the parliament. Now walk down Falk Miska and search the really wonderful antique shops for one of a kind knickknacks. If by the end of the street you are still looking then at the end of the street get on the tram and cross the river. At the first stop on the Buda side is another good shop. Another really off the wall place is Antik-Bazár at Klauzál u. 1 just off Rákóczi út about a block west of the M2 / Tram 5/7 stop at Blaha Lujza tér. Buy an old Stalin bust for the fireplace.
Lots of good and varied suggestions. Much appreciated.
Other ideas, cold war gas masks (several places around town sell them) Russian and or Communist Hungary medals and uniform insignia.
I have been trying how to fit this in a suitcase: http://fc06.deviantart.net/fs27/f/2008/165/c/c/Budapest_by_night_by_Psygabcsi.jpg
Oh, at the shop called Memories of Hungary you can buy a Gömböc !!!!