Istanbul, Unravel the Shopping Story

A Youth Backpacker in Europe

Part III Chapter VI-II

Istanbul, Unravel the Shopping Story

Istiklal Caddesi (Istiklal Avenue) It was a love imagination which I had shared in the last entry. The truth is the story could never be true. Why?

Although the distance between Grand Bazaar and the Blue Mosque is not a moon away, they are not located next to each other. Second, there isn’t any huge square next to the Grand Bazaar. Perhaps not adjacent to the many entries I had crossed under. The only massive square which I had been to was the one next to Spice Bazaar and the New Istanbul Mosque. As soon as I finished typing this sentence, I couldn’t help but wonder if this is the right location? Anyway, although there are trams connecting where I stayed to Blue Mosque, they aren’t the historic trams along the Istiklal Caddesi.

But of course, despite all the muddle-headed settings, the most sought after answer really is if there was any fling during my visit to Istanbul. Well, as much as I would love to (Gosh! Turkish people are smoking hot!), nothing happened on my five-day visit. Boohoo!

Baklava Fortunately, there were numerous consolatory historical monuments in Istanbul. But what I found the most fascinating really was the Istiklal Caddesi, or the Istiklal Avenue. According to my host, it is the most sardine-packing (crowded) street in the world. Not sure if the statement can withstand the challenge by Oxford Street and Regent Street in London, or Time Square in New York, but having over three-million visitor in a single day over the weekend, Istiklal Avenue surely is heaven where adrenaline of shopaholics rushes wildly and uncontrollably. Just be careful of a prospective heart attack though.

Inside Grand Bazaar And most importantly, it is also where the historic tram crawls between Taksim Square and Tünel, despite the uncertainty of what the latter has got to offer. And even more exhilarating for me, the abundance of Turkish Delights and Baklava! Oh, and the many bars of Turkish chocolates carelessly displayed on the glass window of any tiny kiosk one could easily spot along the avenue. My chocoholic worms were biting! Hard! Ouch!

Nevertheless, the many bazaars were still the most culturally enriched destinations in Istanbul. Personal preference would definitely be the Spice Bazaar over Grand Bazaar. The colours and the smell of spices, teas, Turkish delights, and many more bizarre offerings were simply irresistible.

Glittering gold in Grand Bazaar Undoubtedly, the Grand Bazaar, as the name suggested, grande (humongous)! But unless with a clear agenda for gold, jewelleries and leather, or maybe even carpets, Grand Bazaar wasn’t at all grand (splendid). And lest you think that your extraordinary bargaining skill in Indonesia will work the same magic here, shop owners tend to get pissed off easily and never hesitate to publicly humiliate you as cheapskate if you make an extreme low offer in the initial negotiation.

Not only souvenirs that constantly haunt you to keep spending, the persistent invitations of the many street meals were also insanely hard to decline. I was especially a fan to the cheap, fresh, delicious, and wait-me-no-more balik-ekmek, or the fish sandwiches. They were two-euro each, but roughly as big as a size ten shoe, absolutely massive! But two at a time was no challenge for me! Of course, kebab! Doner! Gosh! The waistline was expanding!

Balik-Ekmek in the makingIt really was hard to resist the temptation to spend money and more money in Istanbul. Native Turkish used to complain the soaring high living cost in the capital, but from a foreigner’s (a European in this context) perspective, it really was cheap! So cheap before you realise you have burnt a hole in your wallet from the heat of excessively swiped credit card. And that means another boohoo!




Spice Bazaar 1Spice Bazaar 2

Spice Bazaar 3