The clues were read – with commendable accuracy – and the secret is shared. It is so very nice to be back in a land of healthy commerce, energy and liveliness. The atmosphere here is vibrant and while we’re told that tourist numbers are lower than usual, there are still a lot of us about. There is also a fairly large police presence and plenty of security folk keeping an eye on things – when not focussed on their cell phones. We were “wanded” a couple of times today – fine with us.
Yesterday we visited the serene and lovely Blue Mosque to begin our day. This we followed with two markets! A small one near the mosque as a warm up, then the famous Grand Bazaar. There we threw caution to the winds and got blissfully disoriented in the numerous cavernous passage ways. We looked, we shopped, we looked some more. I think we explored the entire place! Exhausted, we returned to our hotel after a seriously expensive meal. Restaurants here are kinda pricy and wine is over the top. The equivalent of $29.00 for two glasses. Ouch! They were decent sized glasses mind you – but still.
Today we did one of those hop on hop off bus tours. Saw a lot of the city and crossed three major bridges, including going over to the Asian side. We wandered around Taksim Square and frankly didn’t think much of it. Just a big space. There was a craft market going on in one area. The worst church bazaar type crafts ever. Really bad! But we made up for that by also getting off to see the Egyptian Spice Bazaar! OMG it makes the grand bazaar look like a Sunday school picnic! Much more than just spices are on sale – it was all very colourful and packed with people. There were entire shops devoted to selling Turkish delight in every imaginable guise. These next to shops selling hemp rope also in great variety of shape and dimension. Which are by delis stocked with delicious mysterious dishes – we have three samples in our fridge for this evening’s dinner, along with a bottle of wine. Numerous shops selling party and wedding supplies, others piled high with kitchen utensils and pots, glass shops, ceramic shops, and sweet treats shops…..
Turkish sellers are a cultural phenomenon I think. Outside their shops and restaurants they stand and invite the beautiful ladies in to buy, or eat or drink. They are incorrigible and mostly take a smile and no thanks in polite stride. There are of course a few who don’t take rejection as well as others and get a bit cheeky. It’s a nice change from the rather surly lack of interest we experienced during our last couple of weeks in Greece.