Saturday, November 10, 2012


Friday,  Nov. 9

Our local "built in alarm" woke us at exactly 5:31 this morning, even with ear plugs in!  There is just NO sleeping through the morning call to prayer, as it lasts for almost 10 minutes!

It was another nice day in Istanbul, partly cloudy and a bit breezy.  But no rain for the last two days!

After breakfast at our apartment, we took the Tram to the Grand Bazaar.

The entrance:

This is the main entrance hall, and there are many halls branching off from this.  It's a huge maze in there!

The ceilings are nicely decorated:

As we first entered the bazaar, we saw mostly jewelry stores lining both sides of the hall.  As we wandered deeper into the bazaar we found many interesting shops.  This one is selling pretty mosaic lights.  They are beautiful and I'd love to bring one home but I'm pretty sure it would not arrive in one piece!

There are a few restaurants scattered around the bazaar, this one looked like a "food court"

One of the many "streets"

Most of the shops had the traditional Turkish "evil eye" displayed (or for sale!) This one had several embedded in the concrete in front:

This was the biggest evil eye I've seen, it was about the size of a bowling ball!
We saw several men delivering Turkish tea to shopkeepers, they are usually running, carrying those small glasses of tea on a tray.  We've seen this all over town:

The strangest thing we saw were these two carved ivory walrus tusks-note they have Eskimos and sled dogs on them?  How did they get to a small shop in an Istanbul Bazaar?

Of course, we stopped to use the facilities--the ladies WC was tiny (and Turkish style!) The door was so little I had to stoop down to get in!  But it was very clean!

We also explored the streets around the bazaar, this one had mostly rug shops.  I've seen some beautiful rugs, but the good ones are thousands of dollars, and wouldn't fit in my suitcase, much less my budget!

Another side street:

A couple of streets over were many bridal and fancy dress shops, note that the shopkeepers are men!  Today we did see a couple of women shop workers-in women's clothing stores.

This gentleman was selling semit to shopkeepers, kind of like having lunch delivered!

We wandered into the wholesale district--it was a bustling place!

These tickled my funny bone, and I really wanted to buy a pair for Dave!

We spent a few hours walking around and around the bazaar and surrounding streets.  My verdict: The Grand Bazaar was probably REALLY fascinating about 20-30 years ago!  Today--it's very "touristy", filled with fake designer bags, tourist souvenirs, and hoards of shopping tourists just like us!  Yes, there are several interesting shops, and I did see many locals shopping.  David bought a hooded sweatshirt, and I bought some pomegranate  tea and some Turkish Delight candy.

We decided to walk back to our apartment to drop off our packages.  Along the way we stopped into a
store selling candy and dessert--we bought some pistachio and walnut baklava for our treat tonight.  Here's David in front of their BIG mounds of fresh Turkish Delight:

A couple of block later we saw a sign for the Tomb of Sultan II.  It looked very inviting through the gate, so in we went.  It was a quiet oasis after the crowded sidewalks and crazy, noisy traffic. 

The pretty entrance:

The tombs were very pretty, and quite different from the Tomb of Sultan I we saw yesterday.
Most of the tombs had dates from the 1300's -1800's.  There were a few new ones from the late 1900's to almost current.

This was my favorite, I liked the crown on the top!

After we dropped off our packages at the apartment, we went right back out, walking towards the Tram stop.  We found a small sidewalk cafe, and each had a Kabop Pita sandwich and shared an order of fries.  The sandwiches were tasty, but the best part of the meal was the catsup for the fries--they call it "Ketcap", and it's like a very spicy catsup.  I'd bring home a case of it if I could--really good stuff!

We got back on the Tram, and went back over to the Spice Market we'd visited yesterday.  We've been looking at some Turkish spice mixes, and had tried several yesterday.  We held off buying any, as we thought we'd look at the Grand Bazaar first, but the prices were much better at the Spice Market.  Wow--was it crowded today!  So many people we could hardly walk or get into shops.  We quickly chose our spices, and then went to the cheese shop to buy a few things for our dinner tonight.  It was too busy for us today, so we left the Spice Bazaar and explored the area right outside, which is a garden and pet market. 

We found many stores selling exotic birds, everything from ducks to peacocks and parakeets to macaws!  Look at these beauties:

Lots of pretty flowers in the garden area, we also saw vegetable starts and racks and racks of seeds.  I'm not sure how they find room to plant a garden in Istanbul--every square inch seems to be busy!

We have no idea what these are, but they looked interesting. They start out like warty small cucumbers, then burst open like the ones on the left.  The red part is small "fruit" (?) about the size of a large raisin. Guess I'll never know!

Yesterday we visited The New Mosque, but didn't take time to go into the courtyard area behind the Mosque.  Today we popped in to have a look:

View of the main dome from the courtyard:

Several small domes along one side:

A ritual washing station:

There were areas of lovely blue tile work inside the courtyard,  but most of it had been lost over the years.

By now we were both getting tired, so we took the Tram back towards our neighborhood.  We decided to get off one stop early, and shop along the way for a couple of dinner items.  We watched this lady inside a restaurant window.  She was making large lavash "fold overs" and cooking them on the big griddle beside her.  She was a master:

We watched her roll out 6 of them, and she used the exact same movements each time--she had quite a rhythm going!  Each piece of dough came out the exact same shape and size:
Then she filled them with either cheese or meat, folded them over, and fried them on her "griddle".  They looked good!

We stopped in a couple of shops to buy supplies for dinner;  tonight it's dinner at home! Cheese, bread, sausage, pickles and olives!  We bought some goat cheese and some blue cheese at the Spice market, and they were both delicious.  The blue cheese was our favorite; it was solo smooth, with a slightly sweet taste at first--then it just melted in your mouth.  We both agreed it was the best blue cheese we've EVER had! Sure wish we could bring home a few pounds to share!

We bought some stuffed grape leaves to go along with our pickles and olives--they were not as good as we've had.  The pickles and olives were delicious, though!

We added a couple of simet, a Turkish bread like a big bagel.  The dark one covered in seeds was delicious, we'll be buying more of these!

Later we shared a small plate of baklava and Turkish Delight candy.  We tried both walnut and pistachio baklava--I liked the walnut best.   Turkish Delight candy is kind of like our Applets and Cotlets, and come in many flavors.  So far the pomegranate/pistachio is our favorite.

Yet another early to bed night for us--I think that will just be our schedule here in Istanbul since we can't seem to sleep past about 5:30 am, thanks to a certain loud noise each morning!

Tomorrow in Istanbul:  A visit to the Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace.


  1. Another great blog complete with wonderful pictures. I laughed out loud with the picture of the boxer briefs. The entrance to the Grand Bazaar was impressive and sounds like it is quite large---too bad it has become so commercialized. Loved the pictures of the tombs, the one with the sail (or what looked like a sail) was my favorite. The birds were very colorful.--the small ones looked like cross between parrot and parakeet. Baklava sounds really yummy.

  2. Finally able to sit at the computer and look at your wonderful blog. Everything is bigger than life....people, bazaars, food and lots of interesting items to buy. I like those lamps also Di! Prayers lasting 10 minutes each its early to bed for the Lundbury's....fascinating Diana....

  3. Bakalava and the "best cheese" you've ever had....... Say no more!