Our hotel concierge gave us a walking map to the Grand Bazaar. His instructions was to go left, go right, go straight, cross the tram street, go left, go right, and you are there. Here, oftentimes, directions are confusing. A kind couple walking next to us overheard our conversation. The husband said it is next to the mosque. There are so many mosques. Behind my mask, I grinned and thanked him. His wife added that the Grand Bazaar is not next to the mosque but behind the mosque. Again, we were expected to know which mosque?
Established in 1481, the Grand Bazaar is unmistakably a big shopping complex. Compared to the Muslim shopping areas in Jerusalem, this place is beautiful. Exteriors and interiors of each stores are brightly lit. The indoor/outdoor maze of streets are great for sightseeing. Turkish carpets, glittering gold jewelry and other precious stones, leather goods, scarves, clothes, shoes, bags hats, all displayed to feast your eyes. We found that merchants were not very aggressive. Maybe our lack of shopping bags showed that we are not potential customers.
Although entertaining, the Grand Bazaar is not a place to linger. Seeking for fresh air, the two of us exited quickly. Just outside of one of the Grand Bazaar entrance led to a wide pedestrian street dotted with name brand stores and 5 star hotels with outdoor cafes. Well maintained area with park benches, I was able to get additional exercise while J.J. took a break.
Over lunch, we shared interesting observations about Istanbul with a couple from Canada. Experienced travelers, they came on Regal Princess to enjoy the city for a few hours. One of their complaints was that they were insulted by Turks on a couple of occasions. It happened when they declined to look at whatever merchandise was offered. In retaliation, the merchant said, “We don’t like Canadians. They are rude.” J.J. and I assured them that from our personal visits to Canada and meeting Canadians during our travels, they are kind, polite and friendly.
Aloha -- Cathi