Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog, including strong statements in support of weinerdog-riding monkeys, are our own, and not those of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. government.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Markets

So it's getting into the 2nd week since we returned, but nothing much else has happened, so on we go with more from Istanbul.

Oh, and Marilyn left yesterday and is now back in Minnesota.

The Grand Bazaar is billed in some parts as the largest in the world. Katherine took issue with that. "It's not as large as Chatuchak" she said, somewhat derisively.

But still, it was a large, historical place that provided an opportunity for shopping, so she made do (how's that for a female stereotype?)

Katherine peeking around the entrance, encouraging me to hurry up.

A lane in the market.

Opportunities to buy...

Towels and soap...


...and carpets...

Throughout the tourist area and all the shops in Sultanahmet the touts calling to us to check out their wares were entertaining, polite, not pushy. Actually quite nice to interact with them. The carpet-seller from the shop shown above was no exception. He tried a little too hard, though, to make a connection with us, his potential customers. Upon hearing we were Americans on our first visit to Istanbul, he said

My wife is American, and she said during her first visit to the city that she wouldn't return. And now she's been back 22 times!

Wait, your wife has visited 22 times? She doesn't live here?

No, she lives in America. I live there 6 months a year.

Where do you live?


Oh yeah, what town?

Uh, O... uh, Okl, ah..

How do you not know where you live?

I visit 2 months a year.

2 or 6?

Ah, just wait.

At that point he went into the office for about five minutes and returned with a FEDEX envelope with an address on it showing an address in Oak Hill. We weren't going to buy a carpet anyway, just pricing them at this point, and we told him so from the beginning. But the discussion about his ersatz American bride didn't engender much confidence in him or our potential for a good deal, so we departed not long after.

We wandered out of the bazaar complex and out into the sunny streets (the bazaar itself being a small neighborhood that has, over the years, been covered). The only difference between the bazaar and the surrounding neighborhood seemed to be the sunlight. Chock full of small shops selling various and sundry things and crammed full of people doing a bit of Saturday shopping. Not a lot of tourists around. It is the off-season, afterall. But loads of Turkish families out and about; so much so that at many points we were shoulder to shoulder, shuffling our feet to keep moving.

Between the Grand Bazaar and the famed Spice Bazaar we passed the shotgun district. Dozens of small shops selling all types of shotgun. Double barrel, check. Over/under, check. We passed.

Later, in an underpass in another neighborhood, we entered the pistol district. Among the stalls selling shoes, crappy Chinese toys, watches, etc were six or seven stalls with wall displays of dozens, if not hundreds, of pistols. It was a bit surreal. Not locked in cases, just hanging on hooks about 4 feet behind a small counter by which hundreds of people walked. We weren't in the market for a pistol, either, but if we ever are, we know where to go.

The spice bazaar, which sells, well, lots of stuff...including spices.


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