The itinerary said:
Feb. 10, Day 7 Mediterranean cruise, Istanbul, Turkey
Grand Bazaar and Istanbul overview
“Don’t miss the sights and sounds of the city and spend time at the Grand Bazaar. A scenic orientation drive takes you to the old city where you’ll have a glimpse of the old cities sea walls, Golden Horn, Bulgarian Orthodox Church, several gates on the land walls and the Sea of Marmara with a photo stop enroute. You’ll pass by the heart of the old city where from the comfort of your coach you’ll see the magnificence of the Blue Mosque which isn’t blue on the outside but has blue tiles on the inside. See also the German Fountain and Obelisk in the Byzantine Hippodrome. Continue to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest covered markets in the world with thousands of stalls that sell such items as carpets, jewelry, leather goods, silver, brass and copper ware, ceramics and alabaster, textiles and a variety of souvenirs. You’ll have time to wander this giant labyrinth and take in the atmosphere.
As you walk deeper into the Bazaar keep in mind that it is easy to get lost if you don’t pay attention to where you started. The Bazaar covers 65 city blocks and there will be between 250,000 and 400,000 shoppers as well as 20,000 people working there on any given day as well as lots of aggressive salespeople, beggars and thieves.
During your time around the Grand Bazaar you’ll stop at the modern section where you’ll enjoy local snacks. You can watch a presentation of carpet making, leather or jewelry and then have more time to shop.”
Istanbul, Turkey, population 74 million is often referred to as the “Queen of cities”. The official language is Turkish and the currency is the new Turkish lire that was introduced in 2005 which eliminated 6 zeros from the existing lire. However, most if not all shop owners I encountered there seemed to prefer Euros but will accept either.
Hello - merhabba or salam
Thank you - tay sek u ler
We were up bright and early this morning, had breakfast and then disembarked and boarded the excursion bus for our tour. It was snowing, windy and somewhere around 2º - 5º The drive through the city was awesome even with only being able to see it from one side of the bus. Maybe we chose the best side but still hoped we’d return the same way and be able to see everything on the opposite side. As it turned out we returned via a different route. The opposite side included the remains of the old city walls, some in ruins and some in good condition but I wasn’t able to get pictures. I love cities and this one has tons of character and I’d love to be able to spend more time exploring here. However, it’s so big and has so many similar shops and side streets that all look the same with their beautiful artsy lettering on the street signs. We couldn’t begin to distinguish the difference so had to make sure also to not to go too far into the Bazaar unless in a straight line because branching off would have just caused us grief. I’d definitely need my own tour guide or be lost forever in the maze.
A carpet artist could spend up to a year working on one carpet
Istanbul is a safe city to stroll and shop in even though there’s some aggressive beggars and persistant small junque/toy sellers. But sellers love and expect to haggle with their prices; be aware that they expect only half or even a quarter of their starting price but by all means make an offer that you think is fair. Our first stop was to see carpet making and to see the different types and grades of carpets while enjoying a glass of their apple tea or perhaps even an alcohol drink. The apple tea was delicious and served in such a dainty way. We moved on to a spice and candy shop and sampled a piece of Turkish Delight. My choice was a piece of many colours and it had berries and nuts in it. Then we were off to browse the jewelry of which there was tons.
We entered the Bazaar at Gate 1 and most of the shops in the area had high end goods and precious gems, gold, silver, leather, silk, designer clothes and shoes and spices. I would have liked to continue onwards to find less expensive goods and especially hand made paper for my hobby but our time was limited and we were so afraid of getting lost. Well, we WERE lost for awhile; it was difficult to remember the way out even though we were aware of that happening. I turned around and took pictures at certain times of from whence we had come to refer to in finding our way back out but then they got lost in the shuffle of all the other pictures I was snapping and soon all my pics looked similar. It was hard to remember which ones were our landmarks and because I didn't think to remember the pic numbers instead of the view. It was too cold to stand around trying to figure it out, and there was nowhere to sit inside the Bazaar. When we got outside there were some benches along the street but it was a wet snowy day and the wind went right through you so we had to keep moving.
There's lots of homeless dogs and cats here too. They blend into the city and are treated with kindness and respect. Cats appear to be very content, purring and kneading the way they do when happy and relaxed and they brush up against your legs and allow you to pet them. Both dogs and cats are comfortable in lying down for nap whenever the urge strikes them and you see them in the doorways of shops and sleeping on the sidewalks. People walk around them without disturbing them and it's a delight to see them living free in such a busy city.
Afterwards I went to a 20 question trivia contest to kill 45 mins until the next show. It was fun because the questions are always hard and it moves along fast so you can't linger on a question if it doesn't come to you right away. Afterwards you hear the answers and feel like slapping yourself upside the head.
The next show was called Duo Acrobatique, a couple from Poland, Roberto and Dorota, a husband and wife team. It was a visual feast of Cirque du Soleil style acrobatics. They were "catch your breath" amazing swinging around on a rope upside down, inside out, spinning and falling from 25' heights and catching themselves or each other just before you thought they were going to crash and die. Dorota seemed so small with her delicate ballerina style and then she'd be holding or lifting Roberto or herself or both with just her thigh muscles or an ankle or arm or whatever. The show was as good as some of the LasVegas cirque shows, awesome routine, costumes, lighting, the works, it was scary and wonderful. They have been working together for ten years and are the parents of a 3 yr old who they proudly showed off onstage at the end of the show.
I then barely had time to partake of the Turkish dinner, shop the ten dollar jewelry sales and go to the art gallery to make arrangements for them to ship the piece of art that I had won yesterday. I then grabbed an ice cream cone on my way back to the cabin. It was a lovely long day that started at 6a.m. but now i'll have two sea days in which to recover and we'll be on our way to Naples, Italy.