This post is part of the ’7 things to do in Istanbul’ series. You can read the other 6 entries by clicking on the links below:
4) Experience the Grand Bazaar
It is certainly true that the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of those places designed to lure tourists in and make a buck out of them, and that as a tourist, you will be charged more than a local (tried and tested when we walked into the bazaar with a Turkish couple and checked what sort of prices would be quote to each of us), but hey, who cares? This place has to be seen to be believed. Its small, labyrinthine lanes are such an overwhelming experience to your senses, that like me, you’ll probably find yourself too busy taking it all in to actually purchase anything.
It’s also difficult to shop because a lot of the stalls sell practically the same stuff, and of course, you have to ask for and haggle the price at each stall to see which seller willgive you the best deal. However, by the time you’ve checked a number of stores and decided which one you want, you will already have forgotten the location of the shop. But ah, the sellers, they are clever. Here is one conversation I exchanged with one of them:
Me: ‘Hi’ as I am looking at the things in his shop. I start to walk away.
Seller: ‘Come inside. I can make a good deal for you.’
Me: ‘I’ll come back later, thanks.’
Seller: ‘How can you come back later if you don’t have my business card?’
In the end, whether I was charged more than locals, or whether most of this stuff is tourist kitsch or not, I think that there were some really beautiful things in there. I especially loved all the colourful lanterns, and would have definitely purchased a few had I had a proper house to take them back to and enough luggage space. In the end, my purchase was a set of rich blue decorative bowls. There is ‘handmade’ scribbled at the bottom of the large plate they rest on, but 1) I am not really sure about that, and 2) since ‘hand made’ is in English and not Turkish, you can guess these things are specifically made for tourists. But I really don’t care, because I love them, and they will always remind me of Istanbul when I look at them.
-Text and Photography by Denise Pulis @www.theartofslowtravel.com