I feel kind of sheepish admitting this, but after 15 months of living near Istanbul, we finally visited the Grand Bazaar for the first time. I really don’t know how it happened. Perhaps partly because everything in Istanbul is so spread out and it’s hard to prioritize neighborhoods for weekend visits (and I’m quite partial to the Asian side), but still…over a year!
Perhaps it’s just as well that I waited awhile because I most definitely would have been suckered into buying more stuff if I had gone when I was a total noob a year ago. I realized last weekend that I must have perfected my Turkish shopping face because I am very obviously foreign, but I rarely get hassled to buy things the way that I used to. I was honestly expecting a much more intense shopping experience, and was surprised at how few of the sellers even called out at me. Just a couple of “buyrun”s and “excuse me”s. Part of my was relieved (because it can get overwhelming at times), but also mildly disappointed because I’d expected more lively exchanges. Still, it was a worthwhile adventure. The glittering aisles of jewelry, lamps, carpets, and knick-knacks are a sight to behold and we FINALLY found a beautiful, cascading Turkish lamp for our home at a reasonable price. I can’t wait to get it all hooked up!
We also visited a Christmas Bazaar in Kadikoy, expecting something similar to an outdoor Christmas market in Germany, but were slightly let down to see a tiny indoor market that was anything but Christmas-y. That’s not to say they didn’t have some cool handmade gifts, but nothing about it screamed Christmas except for the mulled wine and gingerbread cookies (which I happily consumed).
The only big bazaar we had planned to see but didn’t make it to was the main spice bazaar, but hopefully we will check that off our Istanbul list soon. I’d love to restock our spice cabinet.