I We were thrown right into it. The maze of stalls and shops which compete for space in Istanbul’s grand bazaar is bewildering and exciting at the same time. The first people who greet you are those trying to sell you fake perfumes which they advertise as being from the ‘black market.’ Funnily enough, a few us decided to engage them in conversation and managed to anger a couple after leading them on and then refusing to buy any.
The main shops were inside the actual enclosed space and they were filled with souvenirs, Turkish lamps, Turkish delight and prices which you had no idea about. I absolutely hate shopping like that as you don’t know who to trust. Do you trust the shopkeeper who claims he is giving you the best price or do you maintain a suspicious view of everyone? Local knowledge is essential. It is either that or you spend ten hours walking around simply collecting data on each item’s real price. At least in England, you know when you are being ripped off by high prices. When a bottle of water costs £2 at Gatwick, you know you’re being held to ransom.
‘My mum would go crazy here’ was a phrase I kept on hearing amongst our group throughout the day. After two hours, we’d had enough of the bazaar despite having covered barely half of it. 20 pounds poorer, I headed over to the kebab shop to sample my first taste of ‘genuine’ Turkish food.
It was bad. Since we were so hungry, we didn’t bother scouting a nice place to eat and so ended up at a small kebab shop on the main road which had a large outdoor seating area. The kebab roll however, was more roll and salad than kebab. Not a great advert for Turkish food but being a great fan of it back home, I put it down to the money making shop being aimed at tourists.
Thereafter, we went for a walk to find a hammam which is a traditional Turkish bath. Sauna, steam, massage and a swimming pool. Our biggest advantage when it came to haggling was that we were a big group so we managed to lower the prices a bit. It was later in the evening that we visited the Hammam and experienced our Turkish bath…