Even if I was a shopper, I would have a difficult time stuffing a Turkish carpet inside my back pack. Same deal with Alabaster bowls, plates, or chess sets. Turkey is also famous for inlaid wood products, spices, “Turkish Delight” baklava and other sweets, gold and silver jewelry, leather goods, and cashmere. However, none of that stuff is going in my back pack either. Sheesh, with my luck, I would buy some “kekik” (Turkish Oregano) and the police would make me a cell mate with some old toothless dude that Billy Hayes bunked with back in the 1970s. Regardless, I wanted to check out the hype about something called the Grand Bazaar.
However, I first had to move out of the Residence Hotel, where I had spent the last 4 nights, near Taksim Square and move to my new digs at the Hotel Sarajevo, which was located in the Beyazit district. I like this area much better, albeit, it’s almost as “touristy.” Nevertheless, it is near quite a few shrines and monuments, which I liked since I am not much of a party animal anymore. Taksim Square and the nearby area is really a night time place. Which by the way, if you do come to Istanbul, Turkey and like to hit the night clubs, I would be very careful. There are more than a few which are owned or affiliated with organized crime and you can get yourself in a world of hurt; not only being separated from your money, but violence as well. Do your own due diligence.
The main reason I left the Residence Hotel is that the reception manager tried to extort more money from me, when he knew I was possibly interested in staying a few days more. I am not bragging here, but I could afford a room at the Hilton or Hyatt Regency, if I choose to do so. However, those places are lifeless and sterile. Yawn. The main reason I love staying at hostels is the fact I will meet other fellow travelers, who love to chat at breakfast and compare notes/adventures with other back packers. Equally important, I am not ostentatious or like throwing away money needlessly. I liked the Residence Hotel because it was near Taksim Square and the room rate was decent. It also had fairly good TripAdvisor reviews, which frankly, I ended up disagreeing with, but I wont get into the details here.
No, my problem was this reception manager assuming I had just fallen off the turnip truck and would willingly pay his new extortion room rate. LMAO! I din’t indicate that I was onto his scam (which by the way, WikiSherpa warns travelers about in their section on Istanbul hotels. Apparently, this happens at many Turkish hotels). In short, I told him, “No thank you” and that I would be leaving the next day. By the by, the Hotel Sarajevo is nearly 40 Euros less expensive and actually has better internet and larger rooms! I already like this place. If the breakfast is as good as the Residence Hotel was, then this is a tremendous value for anyone visiting Istanbul. I have only been here one day, but I really like this place – it’s run by an extended family and they are quite nice.
So after moving my stuff to my new place, I ventured out to the Grand Bazaar, which was only a couple of blocks away. You need to know a couple of rules when you enter the Grand Bazaar: 1. If you show any interest in a store or kiosk product, expect to be verbally assaulted with a high pressure sales pitch; 2. Most store owners or sales people hang out in front of their store – which means even window shopping is a signal to them that you want to spend hundreds of dollars; and, 3. If you are not there to spend money, I suggest you say this, “You must have me confused with a rich American . . . I am from the poor south and won this trip on a Jerry Springer show.” Forget the fact that they wont know who Springer is – they’ll be focused on what you said about being poor. Also, mention that you are back packing. This is more likely to work if you are browsing at rugs, since obviously a large rug wont easily fit inside a 45 liter back pack. Last, but not least, looking scruffy like I do or having a 2-3 day growth of facial hair is another advantage if you don’t want to be bothered while window shopping. 🙂
I actually did end up buying something. A very inexpensive leather bracelet, with a metal “ying and yang” medallion in the middle. Quite small and easily stashed in my back pack. One last thought before I sign off tonight . . . They had these “blue eyeball” charms called Nazar Bonjuk which means “evil eye” in Turkish. The Turkish people believe that there are people who can cast a spell on you, i.e., the “evil eye.” To counter this, Anatolian artisans have created these blue eye balls that look back at a spell caster that wishes to do you harm. I guarantee you’ll NEVER see a Turkish baby without one attached to their crib, sunsuit, or diaper. No self respecting Turkish parent would allow their baby to not have one.
Whoo is right! 😉
Love this photo! What are all these things?
Deb, I believe they are different types of Baklava (treats filled with all sorts of nuts). Personally, I am a dark bitter chocolate fan, especially if it has nuts inside. It has to be at least 60 or 70 % though. I got spoiled in Ecuador, where the dark chocolate was usually 80% that I sampled.
Oh Baklava, I looooove Baklava!! I’ve only had one kind which is drenched in honey and filled with walnuts. I didn’t know that there even were other types. And chocolate, yesss, love it too, with or without nuts!!! Thanks for replying to my question.:)
You’re welcome Deb!
I’m glad that you are eating well!!! Enjoy those yummy treats! 🙂
The shish kebab I had at this restaurant I mentioned was the best I have had in years. Quite good and it was a “hole in the wall” type place. However, you could tell it would be good, because the place was packed.
Nice thread, Blade, and good pictutes. Really gives one a sense of what it is like there. You know…if you found something you “couldn’t live without,” you could ship it. I’ve done that before when I was trying to travel light.
We used to go over to the Saudi side of the base and get kebabs…you’d get a plate of kebabs and rice for $3. It was awesome. Yeah, those “hole in the wall” places can be some of the best places to eat.
I’m with you on the dark chocolate. While I too love the dark/bitter stuff (70-80%), there is a brand out of Boulder (chocolove). They have a “Almonds and Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate,” that while only 55% is quite good…one of my favorites.
Safe and happy travels my friend.
Thanks Chi! Yeah, 55% is still bringing it insofar as dark chocolate is concerned. I really got spoiled in Ecuador at this one Quito Cafe and Chocolate store. Loved that place. I met the 3 Chilean women there and we toured Quito and two other cities for the next few days, until they departed to the Amazon (river tour).
Yeah, I am not big on knick knacks all over my house. I have some representative pieces from my travels, but I am not into clutter, so I wont be buying a bunch of stuff on this trip.
Hey, what’s your status in the Flap league? Did you get in?
I agree on clutter. And dark chocolate rocks. Yes…I’m in the Flap league.
Glad to hear you got that worked out with Flav. Did my cousin give up his team?
Also bought my tix for the Flapalooza Orange Sombrero Night this morning. WHOOT!
Good deal Chi. I still have to book a RT ticket to the SF bay area. Ha.
Hey Blade, I read your log yesterday. Your masseur and his smile looked like a dude who could have been a guard on the set of Midnight Express. Good it turned out better in the bath — sounded great. I’m headed today from Albuquerque up to Santa Fe. Already had some great NewMex food here. Speaking of baths, I’ve arranged a surprise 3-hour spa visit for Mrs. Snarkk at a fairly high end spa up in Santa Fe above the town — it’s her birthday this weekend. Hot bath, herbal wrap, facial, and massage. That should keep her in a good mood for at least a day or two ;)…
Snarkk, it was so good the other day, that I decided to do the Turkish Baths again. Especially, after a long day of walking/sightseeing. My feet were shouting and I treated them and the rest of my body to the spa. I hope you are going to be joining the missus for that spa treatment you purchased????
I have visited Albuquerque, but have never been to Santa Fe. My friend Cindy asked me to go with her when I return in late May, but don’t know if I will be discombobulated from all the traveling around the world to join her. In any event, I have always wanted to go there. I read your post at the Flap and it sounds like you are having a good time. Glad to hear that Tom. Take care my friend!
Yeah, I’m joining the missus on the first hour of her spa thing (“private” bath), and after that, I dunno. If they have a masseuse lineup, maybe I’ll choose an hour
Go for it Tom. I usually pass on massages and similar treatments such as acupuncture, when I am at home. However, on this RTW trip, it seems like I am getting a massage or hitting the hot springs (New Zealand and Thailand) at least once a week. 🙂
Great report and photos, as usual, Blade. You’re doing an awesome job of taking us there with you. I dig the architecture of that building. It speaks of other times, of Ottoman empire history.
You are exactly correct Zumiee. This and quite a few other buildings date that far back and much, much further. It’s fascinating walking through this city. Almost like being in a time machine.
ASSISTENZA E CONSULENZA PER GLI ENTI LOCALI E FORMATORE ACCREDITATO PER MEDIATORI CIVILI E COMMERCIALIMETA NAME=KEYWORDS CONTENT=FORMAZIONE ENTI LOCALI said:
Your way of explaining all in this post is in fact nice, all be able to
easily understand it, Thanks a lot.
Thank you for that comment. That was quite kind.