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

Eating in Istanbul

The food in Istanbul is simply incredible. I have heard it described as bland, spicy and Asian…in short, it can be anything you fancy, but I would really recommend trying some of the local dishes. We really enjoyed: a) Pide: imagine a pizza covered in a choice of fresh toppings, freshly made to order…tuna, ham, beef, cheese or vegetables. (This description does not do it justice!) I found it most delicious with an afternoon glass of chilled wine, sheltered in the shade of the various restaurants to the right of  Divan Yolu opposite the Blue Mosque. b) Mezze; you have never tasted humus until you have had true Turkish humus and Pitta Bread. It bears little resemblance to the stuff we buy from Tesco – its texture, taste and density is truly unique and very well balanced – I defy you not to order seconds! When it comes accompanied by Cacik (tatsiki), stuffed vine leaves and Turkish Feta, all the better! c) Kebabs – Shish or mixed, you simply have to try them. Put aside all preconceptions of the rotating, processed meat slabs you see on British High Streets and be prepared for succulent and wholesome cuts of steak and

Where best to view the Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Istanbul is a place that has been on our wish list for many years – the blend of East meets West and the cacophony of smells, colours and sights allured us. Fuelled by our love of Jordan, we urged for an opportunity to engage once more in Arabic culture – ideally without the expense of a long haul flight. So Istanbul it was….the romance of the onion domes across the horizon, the lure of the bustle of the Grand Bazaar and the promise of moonlight bouncing off minarets had us encapsulated as we set off eagerly for our 8th Wedding Anniversary, full of intrigue and a dream  of the Eastern promise.Now, when I say Istanbul did not live up to our expectations I do not want you for a minute to worry about this or draw any conclusion – we merely had a very fixed image in our mind, one that did not live up to reality…call it the ‘guidebook view of a destination’. We imagined old meeting new directly side by side… chopsticks vs kebabs, Asian temples vs mosques, glamour vs rustic……All these do exist – but they are separated by the beautiful Bospherous, so they exist side by