Arriving in Istanbul
I arrived late at Sultan Hostel around midnight last night. The hostel had arranged a driver to collect me from the airport, so it was easy to get here.
I always say that the most fantastic thing about hostel life is the people that you meet. In the morning at breakfast I met Tatiana and Luciana, fellow travellers from Columbia and Argentina. I am thrilled to find so many female solo travellers in Istanbul.
Shopping in the Grand Bazaar Istanbul
We headed past the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia towards the Grand Bazaar for some shopping.
The Grand Bazaar Istanbul is extremely easy to navigate and very safe. Having recently been to Marrakech, I noticed a massive difference. In Istanbul, you went to get chased and no one will touch you. Perhaps I’m still in Morocco mode, but Turkey is much more hassle free than North Africa.
They will, of course, ask you where you are from, in an attempt to engage in conversation and therefore a sale! Be aware that you may also get more attention if you are blonde! If you are concerned, you can always wear a head scarf, but there’s no real need for that in Istanbul.
A few tips for the Grand Bazaar
- Check out the quality before buying.
- You can barter, but some items are a fixed price – ask for a discount and try your luck!
- Before you start bartering, know beforehand the price that it is worth or what you want to pay.
- When a shop keeper is bartering, don’t be shy – you can even half his price as an initial negotiation!
- Have fun with it, don’t stress! Just have a laugh and chat to the shopkeepers.
- If you are nice to them, you might get a free gift 😉
- Ask before taking photos, some shopkeepers do not accept photos or charges of price for doing so.
- There are toilets in the grand bazaar. Have some change ready for a tip.
- Look Up! The views of the ceiling arches are amazing.
The Spice Bazaar Istanbul
Next on our shopping agenda was the Egyptian market or Spice Market (same place with two different names just to confuse you). If you like to try different local foods and purchase edible gifts, you cannot leave Istanbul before visiting the Spice Bazaar.
Now, this is where my money started to come out! There were fabulous spices, tea and Turkish delight.
I was surprised that you didn’t really have to barter in the spice market. Most boxes of Turkish Delight are fixed price and loose tea and spices and Turkish delight to go on weight. Just ask for a discount when buying a lot altogether from the same shop.
Turkish delight and baklava is cheaper outside the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market. However, you might not get the quality. You can always ask to try a piece of the one you would like to buy.
The great thing with the Spice Bazaar is that you can try different things – especially the amazing Pistaccio Turkish Delight! The Jasmine tea that I bought is the original flower, dried so that it will open up in your cup!
This is what I Bought in Istanbul for £18!
If you want to know about prices, this is what I got for 80 TL (about £18)…
2 large boxes of fresh Turkish Delight
Four Flowers of Jasmine Tea
Small box of Saffron
5 Turkish Style Handbag Mirrors for Gifts
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