The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Crowds filter slowly through one of the many indoor streets of the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

If you want to shop here, then my advice is to go with an idea of what you want to spend and what on. Not because of the sellers and the reputation they have for smothering buyers, but because of the sheer scale of the place. It’s like Covent Garden on steroids and locked in bygone times.In essence it’s a huge shopping mall – but not as we have come to know. It’s a collection of permanent stores and market stalls radiating out from one central, arched, stone walkway. It’s darker and cooler than any other ‘traditional’ shopping experience in Istanbul and is worth it alone for the break it offers from the oppressive heat alone.Please do not be put off by the tales you have heard on TV  and in guide books about the bartering and confident sellers. We went to the Grand Bazaar in search of a hanging pendant  mosiac table lamp (purchased for less than £20) and we practically had to wake the stall sellers from their slumber to ask the how much it was. If you window shop only you can do so relatively undisturbed – but probe, try on, express an interest .etc. and you will by approached the same way by sellers as you would store assistants in Top Shop or any other High Street store. It’s nothing to be afraid of, the sellers are warm, welcoming and are genuinely happy to see you.A word of advice – a general and respectful rule of thumb which I successfully applied is that if you don’t lead them on, they will not lead you astray. I also believe that it helps to wander as a couple opposed to a to a group / collective as you as less ‘obvious’ and offer less ‘promise’ to the seller.

I would advise you to go to the Grand Bazaar – the main entrance is enchanting – concealed within the surrounding open air markets it exudes promise, hidden wealth and mystique. It lures, appeals to the senses and can easily overwhelm – but isn’t that why we embrace our wanderlust to travel, explore and experiment with new experiences?

Go! Experience!

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