A trip to Istanbul is never complete without making a visit at the famous Grand Bazaar, known locally as Kapaliçarsi.
If you get there through the tram, you’ll instantly know when you’ve reached the stop for the Grand Bazaar — in addition to the automated announcement on board the tram, most of the passengers (obviously tourists!) will be getting off at this stop.
This is how it looks like inside the Grand Bazaar — lots of small shops side by side, stone walls, stone floors, and decorated arched ceilings. It has the most charming old world feel. After all, the Grand Bazaar dates back to 1461.
The market is so huuuuuuuge that a lot of people have actually taken the time to make maps of it. Me? I took the easy way out and went with a local. It was a very short trip for me though — just a little over an hour! I know. Crazy, right? But I guess it was better than not going at all.
In that short span of time, I somehow managed to buy leather gloves (soft as butter but unlined and very, very cheap), beautiful silk scarves, a set of those tiny glasses that Turks use for drinking their tea from (which came with matching tiny spoons), some bags from a shop who gave us a very good deal as we were their last sale of the day, and a few small trinkets and souvenirs for friends and family back home.
Things that I saw at the Grand Bazaar but did not buy:-
Glass mosaic lamps. I loved these so, so much. They look like antiques but actually use regular light bulbs. You can buy singletons but the ones that come in sets of 5, 7, 9 or 11 — hanging in a spiral downward pattern from what looks like a brass base — are most intriguing. I bought a set the following day from a shop not far from our hotel when I had the time to browse and choose.
Silver jewelry. I loved the lapis azuli pieces. But I didn’t buy any because I knew I’d end up not wearing them. Psst…the amber pieces piqued my interest, too!
The rugs were beautiful but I wasn’t keen on buying any either. My friend suggested that I buy a plate or vase as a souvenir. I loved the ones in turquoise but found the prices to be on the higher side. Plus, I wasn’t keen on bringing back too many of the breakable stuff, knowing that I’d have to make room for the glass mosaic lamps.
Most of the transactions are done in cash, i.e. in Turkish Lira, but some shops accept Euro and would gladly check the day’s newspaper for the latest rates.
If you are more keen on buying food items, head off to the Egyptian Spice Market. But they do sell souvenirs there, as well.