Saturday, March 6, 2010

Istanbul = Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar

For tourists, Istanbul's main attractions are its markets, and on Saturday we visited both the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar (also known as the Egyptian Bazaar). Everything was walking distance, but we're talking about quite a bit of walking.

Pictured below are Jodie and a Kurdish carpet salesman. A word about the salesmen = the Turks are very, very agressive, and over-friendly. They can start an innocent conversation with you, only with the intention of getting you to buy something. If we had wanted to buy a carpet, no doubt this Kurdish man would have been the one to sell us something, as he went out of his way to introduce us to his entire family in a short 10 minutes. The best thing to do is just ignore those who try to accost you.


Another thing about the salesmen and street hawkers, even though Jodie and I don't look at all Israeli, we were frequently approached in Hebrew, and this amused us. Istanbul has seen many Israeli tourists in the past, so perhaps all tourists are approached in Hebrew. The Grand Bazaar was huge, and the Old City of Jerusalem could have fit inside many times over.


In the Grand Bazaar, you must negotiate your price. If you can get 50% off the starting price, you're doing good. We weren't too good in our efforts, and only managed to reduce the price of some small souvenirs by 30-40%.

Jodie enjoyed the many shops near our hotel, and those in the Grand Bazaar, that were selling Turkish ceramic plates. In the end we bought some tiles which we will frame and hang on our walls.



From the Grand Bazaar we went off in search of the Suleymaniye Mosque, only to discover that it was closed and undergoing repairs. We had tea (chay) in a hole-in-the-ground cafe, and then walked down and down towards the Spice Bazaar alongside the pier. Outside this market, a lady offered us corn to feed the pigeons.


At the entrance of the Spice Bazaar we enjoyed fresh glasses of pomegranate and orange juice = highly recommended!


Yes, the Spice Bazaar had spices on display:


But the passageways in this market were, very, very crowded with both locals and tourists, and it was difficult to walk and impossible to enjoy the visit. Some of the local women were highly fashionable, as you can see:

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