When I was still at home, browsing through photos of the Grand Bazaar online made me exited as hell. It looks like you will have to pass through ancient tunnels that look like Aladdin Caves to get to shops selling beautiful warm colored lamps.
When I reached though, the Aladdin cave part was true, sometimes, but it definitely looked more like a mall because they sell handbags things you and I use on a daily basis. Here you will find that most of the vendors speak English, and they are so used to promoting their merchandise that somehow the ‘culture’ part of the bazaar slips. It becomes a normal shopping mall, only located in a historically rich and beautiful building.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom here. There were a lot of shops that got me excited, especially the lamp ones. And the Turkish Delights, my goodness, how can anyone resist these?
The Turkish Delight vendors will lure you in their shops with trays of sample. If you really don’t plan on getting at least 500g to a kilogram of these, I suggest you don’t go into their shop. I had at least 2 months of backpacking left to do so getting a luggage of dessert wasn’t an option for me!
If you are planning to get Turkish Delights, you should be able to bargain up to 60-70TL per kilogram. Mind you, if you plan to do any traveling out of Istanbul, then there is no need to buy it in the Grand Bazaar because it’s cheaper at other places. In Kayseri for example, it was 14TL per kilogram!
Another thing I fell in love with was the lamps. So Arabian, mystical looking.
The smallest one will cost you about 15TL and the big one 25TL (with bargaining of course). If you’re afraid of it breaking in you luggage, fret not! Most of the vendors offer a bubble wrap service at an extra charge.
With that, I tried to make my way out of the Bazaar. When I tried asking one of the locals, they replied me with one of those lines you never forget :
“Why do you want to leave? Stay here, and spend your money.”
After seeing my baffled look, he continued to point me to the right direction and off I went!