Today we rubbed shoulders with a few more of the twenty million people who live in Istanbul. We headed for the busy Grand Bazaar. It is filled with literally hundreds of little booth type shops. Each shop has its specialty – scarves, leather goods, beads, lamps, gold jewelry, silver items, pottery…..one small bowl I was attracted to looks just like one I bought in Budapest……. hmmm. After a while it felt like we were walking in circles, passing by the same 10 specialties over and over. The salesmen are very polite but a little too attentive for me. As soon as you stop to look, they are at your elbow encouraging you to buy.
The Spice Market is smaller but has a wider mix of shops. Along with souvenir shops we saw hundreds of spices and probably as many flavors of Turkish Delight! The area around the market is crowded with little shops that cater to the locals – housewares, hardware, clothing, even pet supplies and plants.
By lunch time we had made our way down to the river front. The space under the Galata Bridge, which links the old city to the more modern section, shelters a bunch of restaurants. We shared a grilled fish sandwich at a casual outdoor one. We thought it was going to be fresh off the boat until we watched a delivery man cart boxes of frozen mackerel from Norway into the restaurant!
We visited a couple of mosques. During the call to prayer this afternoon we were near the New Mosque (completed in 1633). We took off our shoes and I put on a scarf and we went in to watch and listen.
The New Mosque
Late this afternoon the hotel had a cooking class. Six of us were ushered down to the restaurant kitchen, given white coats to wear, paper chef’s hats and latex gloves. We chopped vegetables and meat and watched the chef put it all together in a tabouli dish and a meat stew. We then were seated in the restaurant and served the dinner we “cooked”.
The people here are very friendly. If you stop on the street to look at your map someone will stop to help you out. Often they give directions that just happen to take you right past their shop where you are sure to find something to buy. This seems to be a very typical sales technique. We haven’t fallen for it yet.
The people at our hotel really aim to please. Will broke a shoe lace on Saturday and asked about finding new laces. They said they’d take care of it and this morning a man arrived with an armload of laces for Will to choose from. And he re-laced the shoes on the spot.
Can’t let this blog go by without including a cat …..or two!