During your time in Istanbul, there is one phenomena that I’m pretty sure you’ll be unable to escape: the pushy sales techniques from shopkeepers trying to sell you anything and everything! Carpet anyone?! It all started on the first day of our visit to Istanbul, when we went to the Grand Bazaar to buy a scarf for mosque visits.
I felt inspired to find myself a beautiful scarf because the women of Istanbul wear their scarfs with such style! I’d seen a lot of women in Istanbul wearing a head scarf and they use beautiful scarves in colourful prints that really show their personal style. I thought it was a great way of using a scarf and so I decided I wanted to get myself one of those pretty scarves to use when visiting mosques. So, we got off the tram at the stop of the Grand Bazaar and went into the maze of shops.
Istanbul Grand Bazaar
Seriously, the Grand Bazaar is so much bigger than I expected and is definitely worthy of the word ‘Grand’ in its name! I can imagine you could spend many hours roaming around here if you had the time. Apart from being big, the Grand Bazaar also has some pretty features that you see mostly when looking up. I loved walking around there, looking at all the beautiful ceilings. It was a great way to spend some time trying to improve my manual photography skills ?
When shopping in one of the bazaars, you need to have the strength to keep saying ‘NO’. These places probably make most of their money from tourists, locals shop elsewhere and pay a lot less! With however little amount of English the sellers speak, they try to get you to visit their shop and once you’re in, good luck trying to escape ? I guess the Grand Bazaar is one of those places known for pushy sellers and I’ve seen my fair share of them. At some point, I hardly wanted to show any interest in their stuff, because I knew it would be so hard not to buy anything!
Something else you might notice; that someone has a shop selling one particular product (like scarves), doesn’t mean they won’t try to sell you any other products on top of that! When I eventually found myself a very nice silk scarf with a print I loved, the shopkeeper tried to sell me some carpets as well! I politely declined, because what on earth would I do with a carpet? Carpets really seem to be something you can find everywhere, and everyone will try to sell you one. I’ve been told you can put them next to your bed, in your living room, in the hallway, on the wall and you can give them away as a souvenir. So many reasons why you should be stuffing your suitcase full of carpets!
Istanbul Spice Bazaar
The Spice Bazaar is very small compared to the Grand Bazaar. As you would imagine, what you can buy there is mainly food stuff, like spices, teas and Turkish Delight. You get lots of opportunities to try things out for yourself and decide what you like most, but be warned, sales guys are as persistent as in the Grand Bazaar! The place looked beautiful as well, with all the colourful food all around. It had a lot more natural light come in, so great for all your pictures of spices!
I found both bazaars an interesting experience, that deserves its place in your Istanbul itinerary. But be prepared to haggle like a pro if you want to make the most of it!