As an aesthetic, retro "on display" often carries a light, eye-catching nostalgic twinkle, even if totally redundant. Such as the imposing “Vasaroljon Készruhát” (Take A Break) advertisement, (perhaps promoting local travel and holidays), assembled with metallic structures on the side of a large apartment block facing Keleti train station and the heavy-going Rákóczi Street traffic into town.

Beyond borderline imagery, tokenish colour coordination and distortion that finally comes, there is still much sentiment for these unexpected "glossy glows" that sporadically appear. As with the gestural “Pingvin Söröző” side-street bar west of Móricz Zsigmond Körtér. This "tag" and identity, so out of place with today's times, but yet this off-beat drinks saloon clearly strikes a chord with those who frequent it. Much can be said the same way with a pet shop I came across with its garish but striking motif destined to remain, in downtown Pest.


Often enough while walking these alleyways, "retroness" prevails at ice-cream parlours, flower shops, hairdressers and so forth. See for yourself and also enjoy "retro-prices" while supporting the local community; once past the tourist scenes and overly commercial enterprises.

Interestingly enough, retro plays an inverse role with the younger generation who will immediately pick up on its outdatedness. As unusual items "Pre and Post Grandma" will lend more to "curiosity value" with past times; rather than "what's familiar" with today's mood.

As certain earlier trends with Grandma often intertwined with communism, which also came with its own brand of artworks, now "very retro" and clearly and symbolically dated. Nowadays such antiquities from these times can be found at market stalls such as the excelling Esceri flea market in southern Pest, and at junk shops and exhibition halls almost anywhere.

Regardless of impressions, illusions and blemishes, retro nostalgia is delightful to some as often enough it carries a sense of romance, but not to others who wish to "move on". As the definition from the dictionary states, “Retro means re-using styles or fashions from recent pasts.” This fits the bill very well as there are frequent 1970s and 1980s "revivals" when what-was-then suddenly becomes "current vogue" again.

In particular with some "young-at heart" musical acts who miraculously "re-appear" - such as Abba, Blondie and the Bee-Gees, the global-kings-and-queens-of-retro, who are now very "acceptable" again, and heard frequently with local pre- and post-retro mainstream acts such as the Neoton Familia to Rúzsa Magdolna and so forth on radios, at nightclubs, shopping centres and the like.

In search of local retro

Such symbols and antiquities appear quite often in the most surreal of ways. Walk the back-streets of Buda and Pest and see for yourself. Here are some which came my way.

Bambi Bar, Buda. Close to Margaret Bridge. Time really stood still and continues to do so at this retro gem, tucked under a tower block, which serves all essential delights in an enclosure that resultantly remains devoted to the 1960s.


As well as the "Pingvin", as mentioned earlier, is the easier-to-find "Derby" bar situated by a large roundabout near the main Keleti train station entrance. Step inside and wonder how the world ever went by without these remarkable environs which refuse to "move on".

After a few beers, it may be tricky readjusting to modern day life again so soon after being inside a time machine. But proceed anyway, it is most exhilarating.

For a taste of dazzling "retro neon", combined with garish blues, electric orange modes and ultra-red staircases, which leads the way to dimly lit station platform interiors, go "station-hopping" anywhere along the blue metro line from Újpest Központ to Köbánya-Kispest with its rattling blue carriages and delectably sleazy atmosphere. The décor on this particular metro line is symbolically old as the Cold War, and yet to be re-decorated. But it will inevitably be done so at some point, as have the other metro lines here in town, so see it now.

The prize for the most retro-related hotel in town goes to the Hotel Gellert, with its semi-deluxe atmosphere. This really fits the bill with classic "Pink Panther" films. Need I say anything more?

For a wondrous retro train journey, I highly recommend the Budapest to Lviv train service. See

This really comes with a great sense of wanderlust once on board, as the ride itself, the hospitality of the train staff and the final destination itself are all something very unique, rather mysterious and unlike most other train journeys this side of Europe. It's difficult to express the atmosphere unless one is honestly there; but from an interior point of view, 1960s James Bond very much comes to mind.

If this is too much for you, then board local trains within Hungary away from the main cross-country lines, as usually they are much older and carry much nostalgia. Such as the Nyiregyhaza to Vásárosnamény train ride. As stepping on board and stepping into "retro time" means the same thing.

The old-style tower blocks are sometimes treasure troves for intriguing retro chic, as often enough stairs and passageways are decorated with minimal but distinct adornments almost unseen in interior designs today.

The list continues with spotting Trabants, Ladas, camper vans and other such retro-delights at their best in sunny climes and cheerful atmospheres around Balaton. As well as coming across those "relics" at their worst with noisy ignitions, stinky fumes and occasionally abandoned on street corners.

And for those really close to the local scene and with children, you may have come across a local televised cat called “Mirr-Murr”. It's great entertainment, far calmer and more "attractive retro" than Tom and Jerry.

Meanwhile, enjoy and take in what's there for now before all moves on. It won't be long before laptops, mobile phones and the Mammut shopping centre sign will finally find their way either to the scrapyards or to the retro league.

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