Time To Practice Your Haggling at The Grand Bazaar
This bazaar is one of the oldest and largest in the city and is housed within a massive covered area, which started life as a warehouse. The high domed ceilings are home to 60 streets and more than 5,000 shops. It boasts anywhere between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors every day. It's a kind of well-organised chaos, full of larger than life characters and a riot of colour around every corner.
Although it's a great area for shopping, you should be mindful of what to buy and what to avoid in terms of authentic goods and cheap and nasty good aimed at gullible tourists. It's a difficult path to tread, though, but it is advisable to haggle on your purchases, as long as you're not offering a pittance for quality and running the risk of insulting or offending the shopkeepers.
The Bazaar smells seriously good
I was on the lookout for a Turkish tea set, as well as some high-quality Turkish delight to take back to the UK. Much of the Bazaar is split into categories, such as leather goods, spices, ceramics, for example. This can make it a little easier to find what you're looking for in the midst of the madness! It also lets you haggle amongst the vendors, which my husband was more than happy to do. Me? I'm not the haggling type, and I'd rather pay over the odds for something just to save me from having to discuss it. I'm way too awkward to haggle.
We managed to scoop up some amazing Turkish delight, which the shopkeeper sliced off a huge, powder sugared roll, as opposed to the lesser quality and bland tasting boxed candy that was on mass sale. Although what we purchased was a bit more expensive, the difference was enormous.
I don't even really like Turkish delight, but the pomegranate and pistachio slices we bought were so good! They tasted even better with some sweet tea. I also managed to find a beautiful little tea set with six different coloured glasses that certainly knocked stripes off the clear glass and gold trim sets we saw on every street corner.
More tea, Vicar?
You may need a new handbag to take all your Turkish Delight home...
It really does pay to chat with the vendors and discussing what you need and how much you want to pay for it. Or, if you're weird like me, take someone who can do your bidding for you (you can borrow my husband, if you like...). Set yourself a limit, depending on what you're after, and check out a few different shops to get an idea of average pricing before you make a final decision. There's nothing worse that buying something in the spur of the moment and then realising it was so much cheaper somewhere else. Think of the money you could've saved and spent on wine instead! You're welcome.
Even if you're not looking for a spice mix for cooking authentic Turkish food back at your apartment, a new wallet for someone back home, or just a few goodies to keep your sugar at an acceptable level, I defy you not to spend any money at the Bazaar. Give yourself at least a few hours to wander round at your leisure and, most importantly: enjoy!
Probably don't spend your money on this, though...