Istanbul: Tea, Hookah, and Shopping in the Grand Bazaar!


Hello world, I'm back!

I'll rave on about what I've been up to over the course of several posts, so as not to overwhelm you with words all at once...  In short:  I'm graduating at the end of this semester, so I've been really busy and stressed out....  That's right, I'm graduating!  I'll be earning two Bachelor's Degrees, one in Sociology and the other in Women's Studies.  Wahoo and phew!  I am very pleased, relieved, and excited - to say the least.  I've still gotta pass my last three classes this semester, but I'm confident I can make it to Spring graduation in one piece.  I've got lots to say about that and all of the other things I've been doing since I last tuned in, so while I work on those posts, let's go traveling...  

I'd love to tell you traveling means a recap of my recent trip to the Northeast, but I'm currently drowning alive in those photos and trying to edit/break them into several post topics.  Help!  What's a shutter-happy gal to do?  Anyway, do you remember my first post about my trip to Istanbul, Turkey?  It was a long time ago, and it's called Graffiti in Istanbul - featuring all the interesting graffiti I spotted while there.  I must admit two things:  it was a terribly narrow first post about my time there, and my procrastination has gotten astronomical when it comes to blogging about the rest of my trip...  Who am I kidding, I'm drowning in those photos too, I have a photo problem!  I've got oodles to share from Istanbul, too many for just one post, so this installment of my trip will feature shopping in the Grand Bazaar, strolls and window shopping through the pretty streets, and hookah with tea at an adorable outdoor cafe!  


By the way, doesn't that photo above make your eyes sparkle and widen ever so slightly, like a deranged decorating lunatic?  Or is that just me?  That photo certainly makes me long to go back to Istanbul and drag home a few Kelim carpets and something (anything!!) with Suzani embroidery on it!  :D   Ok ok, let's get to it...

Enjoy!

Catherine
xoxo

More of my travel posts:


Let's start with the views! Wowza... We arrived in Istanbul at night and knew our hotel was facing the water, but it was a nice surprise to wake up and see this magnificent view from our balcony....


      

That's the Bosphorus Strait that runs between the European and Asian continents, it connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara... The land you see there on the other side of the water is literally Asia, but still Istanbul!  You see, Istanbul is a transcontinental city, one of few cities on earth that is geographically located on two continents.... 


See down below in that courtyard?  That is where we had our morning breakfast of fruit, yogurt, and tea!  It was so breezy and pretty, I wish I had gotten better photographs...


My aunt and I were in Istanbul for business, a fabric convention to be exact, but we arrived two days prior to our business partners in order to have a bit of personal travel time and experience the city on our own.  My aunt and I have traveled a lot together, she swept me away to Europe when I was sixteen and seventeen on trips that forever inspired and shaped many of my views on life, societies, cultures, the world, architecture, design, food, and so on.  Our travel style is as laid back as possible, in that we like to enjoy wandering the city on foot and discovering all the best shops, restaurants/cafes, and neighborhoods/districts by local word of mouth or casual internet searches on the hotel wifi, hehe.   So we strolled the streets of Istanbul...


We were in search of a pretty cafe where we could sip some more Apple Tea (a traditional Turkish drink that immediately won our hearts) and smoke a bit of hookah.  Hey, when in Rome, right?  We stumbled upon a nice little street full of restaurants and cafes near some of Istanbul's best places to visit (other than the Grand Bazaar), Hagia Sophia and the park leading to The Blue Mosque.  I will go over our adventures in those places in later posts.  We stopped at this outdoor hookah cafe, unfortunately I don't remember the name, but it was lovely and our host was very friendly!  We sat on some low cushions lining the wall...


I'm sure you know that I loved the brass hookah and the tablecloth material instantly...  And that I appreciated the Milk Glass-looking flower vases!  ;)


We sipped our Apple Tea and soaked in the whole experience of finally being in Istanbul.  We really enjoyed that breezy bohemian cafe...


The traditional Grape infused shisha was delicious...

     

Puf puf...


...it gave me a little buzz and I reveled in the wonderful feeling of being on the other side of the world experiencing new things...


Then, we took to the streets again in search of the famous Grand Bazaar...


The streets were so intricate and beautiful, I love the architecture and old rustic qualities of Europe....


Everything about this doorway is beautiful!  The tiered colorful pendant glass and metal chandelier, the door, the floor, the arched stained glass window and even the old lantern out front!


Finally, we came across a door to the Grand Bazaar!  We soon realized that it was just one of many doors, and we walked all over town looking for one that was open!  The Grand Bazaar is that big folks!  


Several bolted doors later, we finally reached the gates to bohemian decorators' heaven.... Behold, the Kapalicarsi - the Grand Bazaar, opened in 1461 and still cracking'!  There was a cattle-like rush of people flowing steadily in and out of several of these open doors to the Grand Bazaar throughout the city...


Kapalıçarşı is the Turkish word meaning "Covered Bazaar," and Büyük Çarşı means Grand Bazaar.  Inside, this is what you see...


Lanterns, hookahs, pipes, jewelry, hand-painted pottery, ceramics (ad infinitum) everywhere and as far as the eye can see in any given direction...


This was the entrance to the oldest part of the Bazaar...


As you can see, it is literally an endless maze of merchandise!  Depending on how you look at it, it can be paradise or your worst nightmare.  To me, it was paradise, overwhelming paradise yes, but exciting!  I can't say that I have any helpful advice for navigating its corridors, it's quite mind boggling and I need like three or four more trips to Istanbul to get a better sense of the entire Bazaar and its treasures.  I would love to spend several days in a row wandering the Grand Bazaar, but we didn't have that kind of time....  I'll just have to go back...


Let me tell you the jewelry is INCREDIBLE! It's everywhere, tons of it, it drives you insane! I'll be honest though, don't go there expecting things to be cheap, because they aren't.  The Turkish vendors are aggressive salesmen and they (of course) always want the highest price.  However, they really want the sale too, so HAGGLE HAGGLE HAGGLE!  I'll talk more about the buying process and the jewelry I bought in another post, for now you can check out the hookah I brought home at the end of this post...


Seeing this gorgeousness everywhere was delicious torture...


Glass mosaic and metal engraved lanterns to your hearts' content!


There was a lot to choose from and it was everywhere in Istanbul, not just inside the Bazaar...


After a few hours of getting lost roaming the Grand Bazaar and its surrounding streets, we headed over to the park between Hagia Sophia and The Blue Mosque where there was a concert going on....


We enjoyed the Turkish rock music for a bit and then walked back to our hotel to get ready for dinner...


We took in the sights as we went, there were intricate towering Mosques and Minarets around every corner...


When I travel, I find beauty in everything, such as this pretty brick/stone column set against old buildings...


At one point, we caught a taxi and I caught this blurry image of a roadside stand selling beautiful embroidered jackets...


After showering, changing, and relaxing at our hotel a bit, we came back out on foot to find a place for dinner.  The sky was a beautiful bright blue and the moon was almost full, so we went for a walk in the park in front of our hotel that runs alongside the the Sea of Marmara heading towards the mouth of the Bosphorus River....




It was a gorgeous twilight and night, everyone was cheerful and having a good time laughing, drinking, listening to music....


...and of course, fishing!  :)


So, you must be asking yourself what I bought from the famous Grand Bazaar, right?  Like I said above, things aren't cheap, but I got some nice treasures...  Mostly jewelry, a few trinkets, and a hookah!  I'll go over my experiences with shopping in the Bazaar and tips for getting the best prices in a future post featuring the rings and earrings I bought.  I'll have to photograph those things as another addition to:



Here is the beautiful hand painted hookah I brought home with me, you might have noticed it in some of my old apartment decor/design posts....



Isn't it gorgeous? It will always be one of my special treasures. Looking back, if I had the chance to do it all over again (roam the Bazaar) I'd probably buy a few more special pieces and take tons more photographs with my much better camera. I can't wait to go back to Istanbul and hunt for more goodies in the Grand Bazaar and antique shops.  Oh yeah, check out the engraved metal hookah that my aunt found there, it looks so pretty in its little foyer alcove home in a vignette with all her other Turkish treasures...



I'll be back soon with more posts on my Istanbul treasures and adventures...




More of my travel posts:

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1 comment:

  1. I looked at your gorgeous pictures and turned to my man and said: Let's go to Istanbul! :)
    (The look on his face was one of agony...)

    ReplyDelete