Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Shopping in Istanbul

Fresh watermalon near Topkapi Palace
The first thing we think about when hearing "Istanbul" and "shopping" is Kapali Carsi or Grand Bazaar.This is a huge covered market,one of the biggest in the World and definitely very old - it has started get bigger and famous since the beginning of XV century.The market has more than 50 streets and more than 5000 shops. Some of the main selling goods is jewelry. Turkish are masters when talking about gold. Also the concept of the evil eye,called nazar is widespread, and people carry many amulets to protect themselves from bad words and eyes.It is very popular and you can buy it form everywhere as part of a jewelry,keychain or whatever gadget.Another popular item at the market is ceramic.The art of Turkish tile and ceramic-making developed over the centuries incorporating many different techniques and styles.Popular decorations of dishes,bowls,vases,etc are mostly the traditional flower and plant design,favorite colours are blue and white as well as purple and red.
Carpet weaving is one of the most ancient crafts in Turkey even the Turks were among the earliest carpet weavers. Their carpets come in distinct styles from different regions of the country. They have a big variaty of materials,construction and patterns.
Of course goods like clothes,leather,shoes,etc could be also found around the whole market.They also vary from traditional to modern styles.
The main entrance of the market is situated at Cemberlitas square,one station distance far from Sultanahmet.
In front of the main entrance of Kapalicarsi
Inside Grand Bazaar
At the open area of Kapalicarsi
An inportant thing everybody should know when shopping in Turkey especially on such markets is bargain.You'd almost never see stickers with prices on the items.The aim of the sellers is to ask for the price and then the show begins.They'll ask you what price you need then they'll give you lower one and so on and so on.So finally you'd meet somewhere and you just have to buy it because otherwise they'd be really offended.Just don't offer a price unless you're ready to buy the item at that price.So my advice is if you don't like the item that much and you don't have intention to buy it,just don't bargain.Say thanks after the first price you receive and go away.We bought 2 beautiful cups for tea.He offered 16 TL,we offered 8 and finally we paid 11 but I believe that it was expensives. Prices at Kapali Carsi are high but it deffinitely deserve to go around and take a look.
Local people buy shirts(maybe bargain)
I loved a lot the Egyptian market or also known as the Spice market.The market is situated just opposite the Galata Bridge at Eminonu.Its names come from the Ottoman times when different spices have come from Egypt. It's smaller than Grand Bazaar but it's not less interesting. You can see again clothes ,ceramics and souvenirs.By the way there is a favorite shop of mine where I love buying different colourful bracelets for only 1 TL each!
But the market is really famous with the food.Of course you can see different types of spices and also great variaty of tea.But what I really love there is the lokum(the popular Turkish delight) and also nuts and dry fruits.Sellers stay in front of their stands and offerenig you to try the delights,it's almost impossible not to do it but it worth it.
mmm..those lovely sweets

In front of the Egyptian market
and some nuts
When talking about clothes Istiklal Avenue(Indipendance Avenue) is your place.It starts from Galata Tower and leads to Taksim square.You'll find boutiques with expensive clothes of ones of the most famous designers but also there are shops with very reasonable prices suitable for every pocket.The street is also full with music shops and book stores although if it is about books I recommend mostly the bookshop in Sultanahmet area.
Istiklal Avenue

You could strike on street traders everywhere.Most of the times they'll try to make you buy their goods at any price.Especially perfumes,it's even funny. They start persuading you that this is original "Chanel" for example and he will give it to you only for 10EUR.After bargain you can take it for 3-5 EUR.And of course you know it's not original.But they are afraid of The Police and it's possible to escape in the middle of the sale if they see a policeman.

The Kumkapi Fish Market market is known for its fresh and seasonal fish that is mostly caught or cultured in Turkey although you can find also Norwegian salmon for example.Most of the stalls sell at similar fares but each saleman always offer something in addition - garfish, baby lobster or a pile of crabs.The market is located along the Marmara coast,near Sultanahmet. 
I guess there are so many more places for shopping in Istanbul and I'd love to take a walk along other markets,shopping streets,Malls.I read that now(16.03-26.04) there is a shopping festival in the city and I'm sure that would be really enjoyable event.

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