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Mixed Feelings at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.

Mixed Feelings at Istanbul's Grand Bazaar

Mixed Feelings at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.

September 2020.

When people think of Istanbul, there is invariably a handful of snapshots that spring to mind. Perhaps the bulging dome and ostentatious minarets of the Blue Mosque. The sparkling waters of the Bosphorus and the rich array of Islamic art at Topkapi Palace.

Bosphorus views from Topkapi Palace.

Bosphorus views from Topkapi Palace.

Moreover, we tend to conjure up romanticised images of the city’s vibrant, colourful markets. Those labyrinthine streets and alleyways packed with quintessential Turkish sights, sounds and smells. Of all the city’s markets, the largest and oldest is the Grand Bazaar.

History of the Grand Bazaar Istanbul.

Mixed Feelings at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.

We had mixed feelings about whether or not we could be bothered with the Grand Bazaar. On the one hand it is one of Istanbul’s most historic sites. A place that’s been around for 560 years and what historians have described as “the world’s first shopping mall”.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

The Grand Bazaar pictured in 1890.

The Grand Bazaar pictured in 1890 by the famed Syriac-Armenian photographer Jean Pascal Sébah.

However, I’ve also had enough experience with monster markets around the world to know that there’s usually a lot of tack and hassle involved. In truth, Sladja and I had little appetite for shopping. And even less interest in being harassed by lira-thirsty vendors.

Turkey flag.

But of course we ultimately decided to take a look. Because, we figured, it wouldn’t be right to leave without at least a cursory stroll through Turkey’s most famous market.

Furthermore, we had hopes that the general mayhem of the place would be dampened by reduced foot traffic during COVID times. Thus we rolled up our sleeves one morning and made our way through Fatih district until we reached the walled city and its network of outer market streets.

Outdoor market street in Istanbul.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

Dominated by clothing stalls, there wasn’t a great deal to see and things were eerily quiet. Nobody approached us. Soon, we came across Gate 9, one of the Grand Bazaar’s 22 flaky entrance arches. We entered by passing through the security scanner, which didn’t make a sound. The security guard who manned it proved equally mute, not even looking up from his mobile phone.

Exploring Istanbul.

Exploring the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

The moment we entered it was impossible not to be charmed by the beauty of the place. Especially the ceilings with their painted Islamic motifs and mosaic tiles. These original decorative touches, recently restored by all accounts, date back to the 1770s.

Visit the Grand Bazaar Istanbul.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

But let’s rewind to the very beginning. Sultan Mehmed II ordered the market’s construction in the winter of 1455. Not long after the Ottoman’s gained control of Constantinople. The sultan wanted to stimulate the economy by building a Bedestan (covered market), focusing on textiles and jewellery.

The history of Istanbul's Grand Bazaar.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

Six years later, in early 1461, the market was finished, with much of the generated profits going to support Hagia Sophia Mosque. In the centuries that followed, the bazaar grew and grew, while sub markets sprang up all around the main network of covered streets.

Eventually, the original structure was rebuilt with stone and brick. A result of too many fires. Known as Turkey’s “great survivor”, the Grand Bazaar also refused to die at the hands of devastating earthquakes in 1766 and 1894.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

The Grand Bazaar blog report.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

Today’s giant complex comprises over 60 covered streets home to around 4000 stores. Even at the height of COVID its major passages were awash with people streaming in all directions. Definitely busier than we’d anticipated.

A busy afternoon at Istanbul's Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

Not wanting to get drawn into any sales pitches, we kept to the centre of the streets, admiring the art as we went. I certainly appreciated the info boards scattered around offering titbits of history. One sign details how craftsmen initially laid the domed roofs with sheets of lead. Then, later, with fancy clay tiles imported from Marseille. Another board explained that back in its heyday there were five mosques serving the bazaar district, though only one remains today.

Historical info boards at the Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

There are countless jewellery stores peppered around the market. Nearly all owned by elderly gentlemen who, mercifully, had no interest whatsoever in calling people over.

Jewellery store Grand Bazaar.

Standin’ doin’ nothin’.

In fact, several storekeepers had retired inside where they drank tea delivered to their desks from a nearby cafe. I loved this aspect of Grand Bazaar culture, where tea-men darted around dropping off and picking up glasses.

Adventures in Istanbul.

Tea vendor Grand Bazaar.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

In stark contrast to the jewellers, sweet store vendors were onto people in a flash. They called and waved at passersby to come and take a look at their delicious, beautifully presented Turkish sweets. Some sent out young men and women to woo folk with free samples. Those who accepted a bite found themselves quickly ushered inside with a gentle arm around the shoulder. Mm.

Rolls of Turkish lokum.

Lokum. So, so good.

We didn’t get sucked in, but I’ve read numerous stories of ridiculously overpriced bags of baklava and lokum. Some jiggery-pokery, if you will, taking place during the weighing process. As it was, I managed to grab this shot of an empty sweet shop after the owner hopped away for a toilet break.

Turkish Delight sweets store Grand Bazaar.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

Things were much sleepier on the main rug street. Turkish rugs are such stunning creations, but I guess these stores are not places for casual browsing. Indeed this was one of the quietest sections of the market that day. According to several online articles, those serious about buying a high quality Turkish rug will nearly always be better off making a purchase outside the Grand Bazaar.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

An afternoon walk around the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

Apparently, monthly rental prices for Grand Bazaar store owners can reach as high as $7000 per month. Which seems insane. As such, rug vendors are famously pushy and shady. Pedalling low quality rugs for sky high prices is the norm. Claiming machine-made items are handmade. Not following through on express shipping services. We didn’t get to meet a rug salesman that day, which was perfectly fine with me.

Worldwide shipping at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

The Carpet Inn.

I believe it’s almost impossible not to get dragged into an irritating situation while exploring the Grand Bazaar. And so it proved even for us, despite our cautious approach. Basically, we found ourselves so wowed by the beauty of some Turkish lamps we had to stop for a brief look outside one store. Within a second, the owner was in our faces.

Turkish Mosaic Lamps at the Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

Of course we should’ve walked off immediately. The thing was, we really liked a number of the lamps on display. And were genuinely tempted to pick up a pair of bedside table pieces for our future apartment in Belgrade. Having settled on two lamps we liked, but not in the colours we wanted, the man insisted on walking us outside to a nearby outer street where he had the desired models.

Exploring Istanbul.

Istanbul Lamps at the Grand Bazaar.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

Along the way he was pouring on the so-called charm with over-the-top compliments and disingenuous chitchat. Inside the second store, he invited us to sit and brought tea, not taking no for an answer.

Naturally, the final costs quoted felt inflated and he got even pushier. “Ok, so you wanna buy?” Finally, we decided to walk away, but only because he was so damn desperate and assertive. Needless to say he was not impressed as we exited with mumbled apologies. It’s still amazing to me to think that he couldn’t understand how he’d sabotaged his own sale.

Visit Turkey.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

A short while later we made another boo boo by stopping to look at a stall of absolutely gorgeous handwoven (supposedly) Turkish bags. Again, there was genuine interest on our part. But unfortunately, the guy operating the stall was a major asshole.

He just refused to let us take a moment to look at the bags we liked. He pushed bags we didn’t want into our faces and then complained when Sladja politely declined. With the situation getting more and more aggressive, we simply walked off and left him to it.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

Handwoven Turkish bags Grand Bazaar.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

Frustrated, we retired to a nearby cafe for a pot of mint tea. The owner, a slow-moving gentleman with a seen-it-all-before demeanour, took our order with a respectful nod and served us wordlessly with a warm smile. That’s more like it.

Turkish coffee at Istanbul's Grand Bazaar.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

With the last mouthfuls of our tea dispatched, Sladja and I decided we had seen enough. The goal had been to simply soak up the atmosphere. To enjoy all the art and its sense of history. Yes, we’d had a few crappy encounters. But nothing too awful, plus we had succeeded in not getting ripped off. Hence we took one last stroll through the bazaar, following the signs to the nearest exit.

A travel blogger's visit to Istanbul's Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

We passed a few more jewellery shops, a branded jeans store and a large mobile phone cart stuffed with every accessory under the sun. “You want Turkish delight? We have the best!” assured a wily sweet vendor. “No thanks”. 

Then came a t-shirt shop with the tackiest designs imaginable. Next to that, a cosy looking toiletries booth with scented soaps and bath bombs. Right beside one of a zillion currency exchange counters found throughout the market. Because they’ll pretty much accept any currency you wish to pay in.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

Exchange office Grand Bazaar Istanbul.

Need to change those Indonesian rupiahs?

And then we exited into an outer street, stopping to get our bearings outside a sprawling dress store. There were rows and rows of frilly princess dresses in all manner of garish colours and designs.

Dress store Grand Bazaar.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

“Yes sir, Elsa dress for you?”“uh…. no thanks” …. “For your daughter? They love the Frozen!” …. “I don’t have a daughter, sorry”. “For your wife?” I didn’t even answer that one. Rather, I gave him a smirk and shook my head, resisting the urge to tell him to “let it gooooooooooooo”.

Elsa Frozen dress.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.

Like this? Take a look at my series of articles on Istanbul.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

Leighton Travels logo travel reports and short stories.


  • christinenovalarue

    Pour avoir visité le Grand bazar il y a quelques années, c’est une expérience hors du commun

    July 12, 2023 - 3:26 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Christine, merci pour votre message. C’est une expérience sensorielle à ne pas manquer lors d’une visite de la capitale turque.

      July 12, 2023 - 3:47 pm Reply
  • Anna

    Hmmm… a place that is a “must see” for its history etc, but I would really struggle with the harassment by the shopkeepers. I hate feeling pressured!!! Although I have a 4 yo niece who would do anything for that Frozen dress! Lol

    July 12, 2023 - 3:50 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Absolutely, Anna. I dread to think how the experience would have gone in the years prior to and following COVID. I think the scope of the foot traffic alone would’ve had me searching for the nearest exit at the earliest opportunity. The building is incredible and some of the products on offer are lovely, but yeah… there is just too much of what I dislike about human nature on display. If only I had known about Elsa, I would’ve picked up the dress and sent it your way 😉

      July 12, 2023 - 3:56 pm Reply
      • Anna

        Haha thanks so kind of you, but trust me, betwee my 11 yo and my niece we have enough Frozen crap to last us a lifetime!!! I think I’ve seen the movie at least 50 times! I have PTSD I think!

        July 13, 2023 - 3:04 am
  • Stan

    excellent article leighton. you really bring the market to life through its history people and art. so finally you found a spot undamaged (to a degree) by the virus. i shudder to think of the crowds during normal times. mr light seller is so foolish. when someone is seriously interested all you need to do is stay polite and helpful and you are probably home and dry. but his greed had to shine through. somehow i feel sure that he has learned nothing from this experience. your last paragraph had me laughing out loud nicely done.

    July 12, 2023 - 3:52 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thank you Stan. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, I doubt Light Man saw it as a mess up on his part, but rather that we messed him around or something. We were really considering a pair of those lights, but he literally stole himself defeat from the jaws of victory.

      July 12, 2023 - 3:58 pm Reply
  • Little Miss Traveller

    I very much enjoyed the architecture and exquisite wall and ceiling tiles of the Grand Bazaar but was somewhat disappointed by its stalls and the pestering of the market traders. We didn’t get sucked into buying anything though!

    July 12, 2023 - 3:53 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Sounds like you had the same feelings as we did. There is a lot of tat among the genuinely interesting and authentic Turkish products on offer. Thanks for your comment, Marion.

      July 12, 2023 - 4:00 pm Reply
  • Sheree

    Architectural beauty

    July 12, 2023 - 4:18 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Absolutely, sheree.

      July 12, 2023 - 4:21 pm Reply
  • Lyssy In The City

    I would definitely be overwhelmed in there, especially when it’s at full capacity. It is interesting seeing what different parts of the world were like during covid. It looked pretty busy in there. Glad you didn’t get ripped off, but maybe a princess dress would’ve been nice 😉

    July 12, 2023 - 4:50 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I’d say this was the only place we visited in Istanbul where it felt like normal pre-COVID times. You know, the Elsa dress would’ve been great, but they didn’t have my size 😉

      July 12, 2023 - 5:04 pm Reply
  • kagould17

    I’m with you Leighton. You want to explore the bazaar, but the hawkers will just not leave you alone. If only, they would give some sort of marker to the browsers that would tell the aggressive sales people to tone it down. Our most uncomfortable experience was in the Grand Bazaar at Kuşadası. Our guide took us to a rug shop that kept pushing rugs at us until they got down to the postcard size. They kept getting angrier and angrier when nobody wanted to buy. Then as we walked through the bazaar, it became a unsavoury competition between pushy salesmen and lounging leering locals. Not a comfortable experience for a blond woman. Still you managed some good shots. Happy Wednesday. Allan

    July 12, 2023 - 5:14 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Your Kuşadası experience sounds worse if anything, Allan. It’s such a pity and so unnecessary. More than anything it’s a basic failure of understanding as to the techniques that might actually make a sale. All that’s needed is a smile, to listen a little and perhaps a few well-chosen words as far as any ‘pitch’ goes. I’ve experienced far worse than The Grand Bazaar, but still the few encounters we had that day were pretty tedious. Still, I’m glad we got to see the place. Hope your summer is going well!

      July 12, 2023 - 5:34 pm Reply
  • grandmisadventures

    560 years of a shopping mall- that’s pretty impressive. Hands down this is the most beautiful shopping mall I’ve ever seen. I’m glad that it just refused to fall apart despite the many attempts because the building itself really is incredible. I always have mixed feeling about markets like this too. I would love to just wander through and look and browse, but I really don’t like the pressured sales pitches. Nothing gets my hackles up like pushy sales people. You really should have started singing ‘Let it Go’ at the top of your lungs- that would have been the most awesome refusal to buy something of all time 🙂

    July 12, 2023 - 5:32 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha, you’re right Meg. I can see the seller start to slowly back away from me, a sideways glance and a raise of the eyebrows to his equally confused accomplice. Dealing with this kind of nonsense is just par for the course at these kinds of sights, what can you do? I hope you’re having a great summer Meg. I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to make Ryan Adams at the Ryman later this month. Therapy will help.

      July 12, 2023 - 5:38 pm Reply
      • grandmisadventures

        Time, therapy, and a lot of chocolate heals all wounds. Although I’m still hoping by some bizarre miracle you can make it to the concert. We are having a good summer- just seems like it has gone by way too fast 🙂

        July 12, 2023 - 5:46 pm
  • wetanddustyroads

    Well, the Grand Bazaar is certainly beautiful – especially considering how old it is. I’m not crazy about malls, but it would be hard to walk past the delicious Turkish delight … and the beautiful carpets and lamps 😬. I will probably skip the Elsa dress, thanks! This might be a tough visit for me … so thanks for letting me stroll with you.

    July 12, 2023 - 6:09 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Maybe I’ve just saved you a visit ha ha. So am I right in thinking that an Elsa dress wouldn’t be the ideal birthday present? 😉 Thanks for catching up Corna, hope you and Berto are having a great summer!

      July 12, 2023 - 6:18 pm Reply
      • wetanddustyroads

        Yep, it’s a definite no for the Elsa dress … but a lovely lamp or rug would be fine 😉. Summer? It’s winter here – but then again, winter here in East London is probably more like a spring day in Europe! We’re good thanks, hope the same there by you guys.

        July 12, 2023 - 6:23 pm
  • Mike and Kellye Hefner

    This is such a great tour, Leighton. We will probably never make it to Turkey, but if we do we will follow your lead and not buy anything. Though, like you and Sladja, we would have to see the Grand Bazaar just because. The history of it is fascinating, and it looks so beautiful. I’m sure it would be extremely crowded in non-Covid times. Also, I am impressed that you had the nerve to walk away from the pushy lamp guy. Lastly, I cannot picture Sladja wearing the Elsa dress, but the fact that he asked made me laugh out loud!

    July 12, 2023 - 6:29 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Lamp Guy deserved more than just being walked away from. But somehow I managed to keep that temper of mine in check and we just left him to it. Thanks for checking in, Kellye!

      July 12, 2023 - 7:15 pm Reply
  • Memo

    Fascinating contrast to some of the asian markets you have taken us to. My first impression was a touch of amazement at how orderly things were. Neatly organized streets and stalls. And I guess they were as long as you stayed in the middle of the street. I enlarged one shot as you were entering so I could read the overhead signs. One said that competition was banned in the market until the 19th Century. Stalls had not name, number, or signage. I struggle to imagine that. Loved the contrast between the high pressure sales and the calm tea shop you retired to. It helped me relax.

    July 12, 2023 - 8:12 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I’d say the Grand Bazaar was definitely a lot cleaner than just about any market I ever visited in Asia, that’s for sure. Glad you enjoyed the history and feel of the market, Memo.

      July 13, 2023 - 12:00 am Reply
  • Erin of the Hills

    Oh my goodness, no way I could take my preschooler here! She would want every single thing the vendors pushed on us, especially the Elsa dress. It would be a very stressful situation indeed…

    July 12, 2023 - 8:38 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I hear you, Erin. I can imagine how having a child with you would ramp up the stress levels even further. Not sure how I would’ve gotten out of the Elsa situation without disappointment and tears. Thanks for reading!

      July 13, 2023 - 12:03 am Reply
  • Travels Through My Lens

    Well done Leighton, for powering through the not so Grand Bazaar. The history is quite interesting, and the mall itself is stunning, but the high pressure sales is a total turnoff. The Elsa dresses though; so tempting! 😉

    July 12, 2023 - 10:45 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Tricia, the Grand Bazaar was definitely a mixed bag that left me a bit cold if not quite ‘Frozen’.

      July 13, 2023 - 12:04 am Reply
  • Juliet

    Leighton, I understand your feelings entirely about the bazaar (and the over-priced bags), but I must say the photo of the Bosphorus views from Topkapi Palace is breathtaking!

    July 13, 2023 - 12:11 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Juliet, it’s lovely to hear from you again! The Bosphorus is indeed a wonderful sight to behold and the views from Topkapi are some of the best in the city. Hope you’re having a great summer!

      July 15, 2023 - 10:15 am Reply
  • NortheastAllie

    The building of the Grand Bazaar looks beautiful. It seems like some of the sales people there really wanted to make a sale! This is good to know if we ever travel to the area.

    July 13, 2023 - 1:41 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Be careful Allie, they might just eat you for breakfast 😉 Despite the amazing history and the lovely art, I would say the Grand Bazaar is actually the last place to go to for souvenirs or treats. Thanks for visiting!

      July 13, 2023 - 9:48 am Reply
  • bronlima

    The photos really show the beauty of the place. I first went there in 1970, then revisited it 50 years later in 2020. It was just so, so different…..and modern now! Then it was dark, mysterious and full of shadows.

    July 13, 2023 - 2:02 am Reply
    • Leighton

      I would love to see some 1970s shots of the Grand Bazaar, Geoff.

      July 13, 2023 - 9:54 am Reply
      • bronlima

        Alas, in those days, I could only afford a roll of film or two for the whole trip. How photo taking has changed.

        July 27, 2023 - 10:04 am
  • Alison

    So beautiful and so tacky. Such harassment is quite scary and no matter how many times you say no you still get sucked in. We visited Istanbul and few years ago and I remember just wanting to escape. Maybe if you had brought the lamps they might not have worked anyway! We did buy leather jackets in Ephesus though.

    July 13, 2023 - 5:39 am Reply
    • Leighton

      That’s a good point about the lamps, Alison. After all of the hassle and the palaver of getting them home, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that they are faulty. How did the Ephesus jackets work out?

      July 13, 2023 - 9:57 am Reply
      • Alison

        Still wearing them, great buy

        July 13, 2023 - 3:06 pm
  • Rochelle | Adventuresfromelle

    Great read Leighton! I felt like I was there with you. But man, those kind of vendors are the type I try my hardest to avoid. They put a damper on a good experience. No one wants to get ripped off.

    July 13, 2023 - 5:50 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Quite right, Rochelle. The worst of it is that these kinds of experiences just sour your mood and detract from the positives of the place. Thanks so much for reading and contributing to the thread.

      July 13, 2023 - 9:59 am Reply
  • Rebecca

    I recall visiting the Grand Bazaar and getting overwhelmed by the numerous stalls; it’s very easy to get lost inside! I remember visiting that exact Turkish delight booth with my friend, who bought a nice box of the sweets as souvenirs. I opted not to get anything at the Grand Bazaar, partially because of the pushy vendors, but also because I could also buy the same items (e.g. tea, Turkish delights) for cheaper at the grocery stores! But for the colors and experience, the Grand Bazaar is worth a peek inside.

    July 13, 2023 - 6:06 am Reply
    • Leighton

      You summarise it nicely, Rebecca. Amusing that you remember that same Turkish sweets store, I guess it does kinda stand out.

      July 13, 2023 - 2:03 pm Reply
  • qprgary

    We thought the place fascinating, didn’t buy anything but loved all the spices. Got used to being hassled after 5 years in the souks of Saudi Arabia though must admit it took a year or so to ignore. They don’t understand that if left alone we’re more likely to buy but it’s a cultural thing I guess.

    July 13, 2023 - 11:20 am Reply
    • Leighton

      I’m not sure I knew you’d lived in Saudi, Gary, what an experience that must have been. I had similar experiences in Doha and Dubai back in the day and yeah, it also took me some time to switch off from it.

      July 13, 2023 - 2:05 pm Reply
      • qprgary

        1982 to 88 was a bit Wild West especially driving but a great experience. Played in expat footy league and we actually beat AL Ittahad in Jeddah cup semi final but they were nothing then. We lost final

        July 14, 2023 - 11:27 am
      • Leighton

        Good stuff. My dad lived out there in the early 80s while I was a toddler. Was based in Dhahran and had similar tales of good money, wild living and regular football. Maybe it’s not too late to go back out there and play professionally. Knock out some keepie uppies and you should be able to get at least a million.

        July 14, 2023 - 5:00 pm
  • travelling_han

    When we visited the Grand Bazaar, not one vendor approached us. We merrily walked through snapping some photos and taking it in (I agree the ceilings were charming), and then out the other side. Not sure how we managed it really!

    July 13, 2023 - 1:47 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha ha what a result. I think we lingered a little too long to get away with it. Once you’ve made eye contact with a product you’re usually ****ed ha ha. Thanks for checking in, Hannah.

      July 13, 2023 - 1:49 pm Reply
      • travelling_han

        It’s so true, haha! And never take a sample!

        July 13, 2023 - 1:59 pm
  • anoush

    The building is beautiful with its barrel vaulted ceilings, long corridors and beautiful paint and tile decorations. If not for bothersome vendors, the atmosphere would be full of charm and (Turkish) 😉 delight. I love the colourful rugs, lamps and heaps of spices. Mint tea is always a good idea when stressed and the tea room experience sounds quite enjoyable and calming. Great descriptions of the gentlemen who waited on you. The ending made me laugh, brilliant.

    July 13, 2023 - 5:07 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks so much Anoush, really appreciate your conscientious readership and thoughtful comments.

      July 13, 2023 - 7:12 pm Reply

    A very familiar sounding tale, although I must admit we really don’t have too much of a problem with the hassle thing, it can be amusing if you don’t let it get to you. A hearty laugh and a big smile and a dose of “ah yeah every single shopkeeper is telling me the same, I heard it ten times already” normally gets them to lower their tone and give some light hearted stick back. We’ve done decent deals that way, too. You’re right though, the Grand Bazaar these days is an interesting place but with the distinct feeling that a big chunk of authenticity shot off down the street several decades ago. For future ref, the Grand Bazaar at Izmir is infinitely better, they’re not so used to tourists there so it remains less pushy and more authentic, yet it’s huge and still a big part of city life. And you get little alley ways where every stall sells just one product – like, for instance, fan belts….no really…

    July 13, 2023 - 7:28 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I think that there are different kinds of hassle. I have experienced plenty of the jovial take-it-and give-it-back type that you have described. However, those are not at all the experiences I’ve detailed in this article. One was an approach of relentless desperation, the other aggression that was heading in a nasty direction. In both cases smiles and banter was not going to cut it. Sometimes it’s just a case of, I’d rather not deal with this. I have a really good friend living in Izmir but she’s going to be relocating in a few months. It’s a pity we never got round to that part of the country. Maybe one day.

      July 13, 2023 - 8:21 pm Reply

        Well yes, you’re right, of course. Some are impossible, but I never found Istanbul or Marrakech as bad as Egypt, for instance

        July 13, 2023 - 8:31 pm
      • Leighton

        Experiences are different right? From one to another, even in the same location. I remember well your articles about the hassle you got in Egypt, that sounded truly next level. Closeish (though perhaps not quite as bad) to a few guys I had to deal with in India way back when.

        July 13, 2023 - 8:34 pm

        Yes, absolutely. Egypt is the only place we’ve visited where we wouldn’t recommend independent travel. As bad as that.

        July 13, 2023 - 8:38 pm
      • Leighton

        How sad, we like the look of Egypt on paper. But you’re not the only one we heard really negative things from.

        July 13, 2023 - 8:43 pm
  • Monkey's Tale

    Sounds about what I expected. I’m sure we’ll visit the Bazaar but I’ve taken notes from you. Don’t look interested in anything! I suppose there are a lot of pickpockets there? Maggie

    July 13, 2023 - 8:29 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I think it is indeed a prime spit for pickpockets and ne’er-do-wells. How often of they do well? “ne’er”. Thanks for checking in, Maggie.

      July 13, 2023 - 11:33 pm Reply
  • WanderingCanadians

    I’m typically not a fan of these styles of markets either. And I don’t really like shopping. Or the crowds. I enjoyed learning about the history of this place and taking a tour through your eyes (or rather camera lens). The aggressive pushiness would have turned me off from buying something either.

    July 15, 2023 - 2:20 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      It’s kinda sad how the history of the place has been hijacked by the vibe that now prevails. As you could probably tell, it’s really hard to go there and look around without being reeled into some nonsense. It is what it is I guess, we are still glad we saw it. Hope your summer is going well, guys!

      July 15, 2023 - 2:24 pm Reply
  • Pinned on Places

    Amazing location, this is definitely a place on our list. I get the vibe everyone is saying about the crowds and hassling, but each to their own, it’s an experience! Hope your enjoying your time! 😊✌️📌

    July 16, 2023 - 4:25 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      It’s an experience for sure, I hope you enjoy the Grand Bazaar when you get there. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

      July 16, 2023 - 8:31 pm Reply
  • wrookieschu

    Fantastic photos! Istanbul has been on my radar for a while and you have made the desire to travel here even bigger! What a great market.

    July 20, 2023 - 12:49 am Reply

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