… have to buy another bag to get everything you bought home.
The Grand Bazaar is the oldest shopping mall in the world. And here I thought Southdale was supposed to have some significance in that category… I guess that’s the US’s first indoor regional shopping mall. Anyhoo…
The Grand Bazaar is open from 9am to 7pm, Monday – Saturday. It’s a maze of shops, many of them looking similar and selling similar wares. It seems organized into various sections. But around every corner seemed to be someone saying, “Lady, you want to buy a carpet?” Oh, I’d love to buy a carpet. But I can’t afford a carpet. You avoid eye-contact and keep walking.
Our first foray into the Grand Bazaar was on Monday. We weren’t sure what we were shopping for, other than scarves and puzzle rings. My friend and I are kind of nuts about scarves. Two years ago in Portugal, we discovered of our shared passion while at a market with Margaret. The scarf count was already at 4 for my friend and 3 for me.
Shopping in the Grand Bazaar is a little stressful. There are no prices posted. You’ve entered the realm of bargaining for price. What is the price? The shopkeeper answers. You play the game of looking like that is too much and offer a lower amount. He looks disappointed and tells you a new price, lower than the first, but higher than your offer. If you like it, you take it. If you don’t, you walk away. Sometimes when you walk away they start shouting lower prices to try to get you to turn around. It’s quite the game. I’m not very good at it.
If you actually start looking at a shop, you need to be prepared for the sales-pitch. This may include a demonstration. I did purchase one scarf in the Grand Bazaar. And I’m sure it had to do with the sales pitch and the fact that this guy knew how to drape/tie a scarf. Price of said scarf? 30 TL. Was it a good price? At the time I thought so.
The next day we visited the Chora Church and then went to the Suleymaniye Mosque. When the taxi dropped us outside the mosque, there were more stands set-up to sell typical tourist stuff. Including scarves.
This is A. Ismet Tong. He has a souvenir shop outside the Suleymaniye Mosque. He has lots of scarves. And guess what? He posted prices. When we asked him about that, he said, “I post the price because I respect you. The price is good for me and good for you.” The same exact scarf that I bought for 30TL was 20TL. So yes, we believed him. And we bought scarves. He was super nice and helpful. When he saw what we liked, he found more in different colors. He was enjoyable to talk to and it was a very nice shopping experience. Some people may like the bartering, but to me, it’s stressful. I like the posted prices and I’d recommend seeking out Mr Tong to anyone in Istanbul. Plus, you then see the Suleymaniye Mosque while you’re there.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention what I actually bought to make it so I had to buy another bag to get my purchases home. My big, unexpected, but totally cool purchase was a bed cover. Try getting a queen sized bed cover in your carry-on wheely bag. I did it. But there was hardly any room for my other stuff. I actually left the merchant’s shop and had to think about the purchase. I’m sure the guy thought he’d never see us again. I’m amazed that we found the shop again amongst the maze of the Grand Bazaar. I offered him a price and was willing to go higher. But he took my offer, and threw in 3 pillow covers – for which I still need to find pillow inserts. When my suitcase arrived, a day later than I arrived, it made it to its final destination.