Why I love living in Budapest No. 10

Türelem is the Hungarian word for ‘patience’ and ironically, in a city where single-mindedness is alive and well, particularly during rush hour, it’s surprising how many Hungarians actually possess this virtue. If you stand back and wait your turn to get on or off a tram, bus or metro during rush hour, you’ll be left standing! You have to ready those elbows and leave your timidity behind. BP in rush hour ain’t for the fainthearted.

Come to think of it, the same goes for the airport. I’ve been highly amused at the reaction of other passengers when Hungarians casually saunter up the outside of the queue and join it close to the top (either leaving or coming back to Hungary). Feigning complete oblivion to the muted snarls of the more ‘societal-norm-abiding’ folks, they continue chatting until they’re ready to board the plane. In fairness, it’s just a subset (albeit a rather significant one) of the population that appears to have a brass neck – I’ve been in the company of Hungarians who have been equally amused at these antics; not condoning them, but amused nonetheless.


Anyway, I digress. Back to türelem. While on my travels and at the various craft festivals in the city, I see lots and lots of people (folk artists) spending hours and hours cross-stitching, weaving, spinning, making flowers and doing other craftwork that would have me chomping at the bit. Intricate embroidery using a stuffed canvas and numerous threaded spools was particularly amazing.

folk fest 185 

Have you ever wondered how they get those pleats into the peasant skirts? I couldn’t believe it when I saw it and had I not seen it for myself, I wouldn’t have believed you if you’d told me! Each pleat is handmade and then once the skirt is pleated, all however many metres of it, they sew on the waistband! Hours and hours of work. Now that’s türelem!


I knit. There are a few men in the world who wore or may even still be wearing jumpers I’ve knitted. My mother used to roll her eyes when she saw the knitting needles coming out…a sure sign of a new man on the scene. I was always partial to a man in a jumper believing (as I still do) that proper jumpers (not the lambswool, pastel, wrap around the neck jobs that never seem to go away – but the real, down-home, chunky Aran knits) are what separate the men from the boys! But my knitting had a fury about it; an obsession of sorts that lit red hot for as long as it took to cast off the final stitches. There was no türelem involved…’twas lust, not love!

IMG_3444folk fest 189

6 Responses

  1. Hi there,

    I was just wondering if you know a good place to buy knitting supplies in Budapest? I am living here and keen to get into knitting…only problem is, i’m not sure where to find what I need! Any suggestions would be great.


    1. Hi Sophie – there’s a knitting shop at the Korut end of Kiraly utca close to Liszt Ferenc tér. Small but well stocked. Cheers, Mary

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