A Day in Istanbul: Part One

Last Saturday, I had a day off from work here in Turkey, so myself and two friends, Diana and Mellany, headed to Istanbul for the day. Now if you know Istanbul, you know there's no way you can see this huge and culturally rich city in just one day so we decided on our top three locales; The Blue Mosque, the Arasta and Grand Bazaar and the Galata district. 

Our first stop was the Arasta Bazaar, a charming street just southeast of the Blue Mosque. The best part about this street were the textiles. I saw the most beautiful scarves in this one shop but as it was just the beginning of our day, I didn't take any photographs of this particular shop or make any purchases. I figured I would see so much more. But I must say, I wish I had lingered a bit longer here... 

Arasta actually means a series of shops built beneath or near a mosque. The rent received from the shops help restore and maintain the mosque. The shops found here have accomplished owners who care deeply about their goods and services. And they speak a myriad of languages as you stroll on by...

As great as it is to shop here, the Arasta Bazaar is also a fantastic place to stop for a turkish coffee or tea and watch the passerbys. I'm all smiles when I see the outdoor eateries in Turkey as they always tend to include vivid colors with charming, comfy seating, all sweetly arranged. 

We wound our way through the side streets until we found the Grand Bazaar- about a 15 minute walk from Arasta. I had heard this place was a labyrinth of shops where it's easy to get lost, which certainly registers the moment you walk inside. The Grand Bazaar encompasses 61 covered streets with over 3000 shops and up to 400,000 people visit this impressive market each and every day. 

There is no shortage of color or beautifully stacked goods here. You'll find a lot of the same though as this market is full to the brim with textiles, ceramics, leather, jewelry and carpets down one aisle, then the next aisle, and the next...

Turkish lanterns are everywhere you turn at the Grand Bazaar. Most are in the traditional style of glass and brass, fashioned after the lanterns of Ottoman palaces. These work well indoor or out and have a most distinctive silhouette. 

My favorite part (as long as you're in the right mood for it) was how each vendor tried to entice us to his shop with a new pickup line of sorts. This is common in this part of the world but can be annoying to most westerners. I suggest you go prepared for a total invasion of privacy. The moment we came upon a new shop, these creative conversations went something like this;  "Ah, hello Charlie's Angels.... Something for your mother in law? -i don't have a mother in law- ah, something for my mother in law?.... Are you sisters? -we look nothing alike ..  I think you need a new handbag... (To my friend Diana) Are you Columbian?... Are you Syrian? ... Are you Mexican?... Here, come now, you like very much... You need new red shoes??..."

One shop that stood out from the rest was Army of Love. It's a second hand boutique that's a result of four years of the owners acquiring items from various markets in Europe and Asia. All items are Army inspired with a truly unique look and feel. 

They have a plethora of army jackets here that have either been collected or enhanced with second hand materials and their own design expertise. It's a great store to peruse as long as you're just one of a few inside. Like most shops in the Bazaar, it's tiny.

I was surprised how easy the Bazaar was to walk through when we first arrived, around 11am. But after a couple hours, all that had changed. So my advice, which pertains to most tourist attractions in the world, is to go early. Obvious I know, but this visual is a good reminder...

I loved my time in Istanbul with Diana and Mell, albeit it was much too short. This was Part One of our day, I'll post Part Two next Friday....


Photos and Content: Sweet Peach

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Reader Comments (2)

Hi, I'm following you and I suprised when I saw you are here, in Istanbul. I'm interior designer and like your blog. Hope you have great time here..

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGokce Ozkaya

looks like such a wonderful experience! :)

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChelsea Renee

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