Friday, December 31, 2010

Istanbul Day 2: Grand Bazaar

Well I continue to plug away at our Istanbul adventure. I appreciate those of you who have expressed that these posts have allowed you to "visit" from afar. That is truly what I am trying to do for those I love (and even those of you I have never met.) I know most people will never visit Turkey or some of the other locations we will get during the next two years. I really want to bring a bit of the world to all of you!

So, back to Friday, the biggest adventure-filled day on our Istanbul trip. After our morning at the Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern, we got some quick lunch at a nice Turkish Cafe. Once again, your order in the hopes you are getting something you sort of wanted. (I ordered a quesadilla and ended up with what was actually a fajita filled wrap.) Here are a couple of pics from our lunch stop:

Elijah eating, what else ... french fries? We stuck to ordering some french fries and fresh fruit at nearly ever stop and then trying to pick something else that seemed semi-kid-friendly. Unfortunately, Turkey, on the whole, while very tolerant and welcoming of children, does not cater to them like, at all. There is very rarely a kids' menu (especially not one that has things that kids may actually eat.) Elijah eats everything so it's not a problem. But our little Isaac is much more American at heart and doesn't want to get too far away from his comforts!

William lovin' the fries as well.

After lunch it was off to ... The Grand Bazaar. This Bazaar is one of the largest covered markets in the world with 60 streets and 5,000 shops. In fact it attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily! It is well known for its jewelery, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroideries, spices and antique shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of goods. The Bazaar has been an important trad ing centre since 1461.

We didn't do any major shopping, but we did explore and try to get a taste for the Bazaar. It is normal for store keepers to come at you with everything they have and to then expect you to bargain for the product. (You shouldn't pay more than 50% of an item's listed price we have been told.) One thing we did find though was that if I spoke some Turkish (I would often say "we are just looking" in Turkish or some other statement in the "second tier" of Turkish language which indicated I actually knew more than just the most common phrases) that the storekeepers would assume we were more than the normal American tourist and back off of us a bit. So this became my strategy on behalf of the whole group.

In general, most tourists are visiting Turkey for just a short time. They do not meet many people that actually live in Turkey. While we are encouraged to conceal the fact that we are military (which often means that we have to conceal that we live in Turkey since mentioning Adana is nearly synonymous with Incirlik), when people hear me speak, they are often fascinated that I am actually learning the language.

I have to admit that learning Turkish has become a passion of mine. I find it empowering and comforting as we tour around the country. While I know I won't have time to become fluent, being able to communicate on a bit of a deeper level, really opens up the door for meeting people, learning the culture, and frequenting tourist areas.

Okay, so I have gotten off task here. Here, are a few pictures of our time at the Grand Bazaar. Following this afternoon, we would head back to the hotel for naps before dinner later that night.

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