Regular readers of this blog will know that I have previously mused on the prevalence of coat stands in public places. So, in an attempt to get with it I decided that my apartment definitely needed to have one.
Living on Budapest's 'antiques street', I had looked to see if I could find a beautiful Art Nouveau stand, but with no luck, so I decided that I would try Swedish post-modernist and looked up where I could find the local IKEA. Yes, Budapest has two, and my apartment, like virtually all the other apartments that I have looked at here is fully equipped with Ektorp, Lagan, Billy and their brothers and sisters. So I figured that Tjusig or Portis would not look out of place.
The first problem was to decide on my means of transport. As the temperature had soared to +1°, the bicycle became a possibility, and this also meant that I could have my first cycling adventure other than going to and fro to work. However, before deciding on this I needed to check the package dimensions and weight to make sure that I could get home on my bicycle with the flat pack. For many years I have taken great delight in trying to carry as much as possible on my bicycle, so a trip to IKEA was a definite challenge.
My route to the store took me through the beautiful snow-covered Varosliget, the People's Park, and then on past the Puskas Ferenc Stadium. This has quite an open construction, and as I cycled past I could see the terraces completely blanketed with snow, a striking sight. On past the giant Tesco (oh yes) and eventually I reached IKEA.
Normally I detest visiting the place, and a major reason for this is because getting to it requires an hour of driving either up or down the M1, but cycling to it seemed to make it less unappealing. It even has cycle racks outside.
But once inside everything seemed really weird. I guess IKEA stores everywhere are all absolutely identical: you go upstairs, wander around in a daze looking at kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms and then go downstairs to buy lots of things that seem really useful but which you don't actually need. And a great attraction of IKEA is that wherever you go everything is the same, including the bizarre names, and of course, the Swedish meatballs. People are probably also having the same conversations ("We don't need this", "It will fall apart after five minutes", "But it's really cheap"). The only difference here is that all the information around the store is in Hungarian. So as I wandered around I could have been in Nottingham or Leeds, and although I couldn't read any signs I knew exactly what I needed to do and where I should go. I guess that is why IKEA is so successful.
Anyway, I found the coat stand flat pack and realise that I would need some strapping to keep it attached to my bicycle, and hey, you can of course buy that in IKEA.
As I waited in the checkout I realised that whenever I go to IKEA I get increasingly anxious as I walk around buying things, worrying that I will not be able to fit everything in the car, and today was no exception. Although the flat pack fitted into my pannier it was extremely long and I worried that cycling home might be impossible or suicidal, but once I started to strap it to the bicycle I realised that I could probably just about do it, and in the event had a very pleasant cycle ride home.
Unlike kitchen units or chests of drawers, putting together an IKEA coat stand is a pretty simple business, and once I had erected it I was able to hang my coats up and get rid of the cardboard box that they had been living in for the last month. Falk Miksa utca was starting to look more like home.