Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Istanbul, Turkey - A Fabulous Place to Visit

An exotic city where old and new mix beautifully. While the trip was in the planning stage, I just knew that Greece would be the highlight of the family vacation. What a surprise I found in Istanbul!

The Grand Bazaar was fabulous, of course, but what impressed me the most was the layout of the stores within. The best sales men I ever met work with in the walls of that market. It contains a wide array of goods: from rugs, to clothing, to home decor and of course jewelry and linens! My heart raced as we turned each corner and the weight of my shopping bags pulled me closer to the center of gravity.

We were a small family of 10 traipsing through the pathways of that amazing place, and just by our mere size, we drew the shopkeepers out to greet us. All the people we met were friendly from shoppers to shop owners alike. The diversity of the people all sharing the same "need".

When shopping, it is always important to bring your personal assistant to help in the negotiations. Naturally I brought the best negotiator I know with me as you can see as I added to my collection of "home goods". What things do I consider as home goods? Anything that I can bring through my front door!

All five women brought their personal assistants so you can imagine what a day in that bazaar was like. We shopped, ate wonderful food, and shopped some more. It was really hard work, so if you go be sure to bring great walking shoes and rest prior to shopping. My favorite display was the one on the left with all the belly dancing attire. It was so colorful and you might be surprised to learn how many women in the USA are taking belly dancing classes, and these are the kind of outfits they order over the internet.

The prettiest table cloth I found was covered in ribbon embroidery, and of course I had to take a picture of it. If you have ever done silk ribbon embroidery than you you know how many hours this takes. I barely finished a small pillow so my appreciation of this was beyond words. It was worth every penny the store was charging for it, only I had exceeded my budget for the day. It was lavishly covered in ribbon flower motifs.

For those who still cook, there was one more market that we had to visit and it was a priority on our list. The Spice Market - you can't imagine the rows of spices we could see as we entered. I didn't bring all my lenses so I was trapped within the limitations of the one I did have on me that day. But this particular booth where we shopped says it all. Plenty of spices, "Turkish Delight", pastries of all types, tea including my now favorite "Apple Tea". Ron found a local market here in Georgia which sells Apple Tea and Turkish Delight so after going through our first 3 boxes we now have two more Turkish Delights and 2 boxes of tea. No one escaped this booth empty handed.

Not all of our time was spent shopping, as we visited the city of Istanbul. My favorite historical site was Topkapi Palace and within the walls there are beautiful treasures which are worth the visit.

And for my coffee club friends, have no fear - I was able to find a Starbucks in almost every city and yes, they look just like the ones in the States. From the signs, to the "menu", style of store, to the coffee cups they sold but of course in the native language of the country we were in! So for my friends, that drink, manage and love Starbucks this photo is for you:

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