ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Shoptastic Istanbul!

Updated on February 4, 2019
The Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar

We’d been in the Grand Bazaar for about five minutes when my loved one cracked: ‘What exactly is our purpose here? What are we trying to achieve?’ Purpose? Achievement? Had he learnt nothing over the years? I put my foot down. This was a recce, I told him, and with a birthday coming up it was only right that I studied the huge choice of goods on offer before returning on The Big Day to blow some birthday cash. And goodness me, if you’ve got some birthday cash to blow, Istanbul’s the perfect place to do it in.

(Unless you’re a man, perhaps).

Rugs

Wandering back to our hotel one night, a man stopped us on the street and asked if we wanted to buy a rug, and then seemed surprised at our refusal, because let’s face it, there could be nothing more sensible than to go off, late at night, with a stranger in a new city to check out the knots on his Konya. Humph. It’s not as if there aren’t rug shops on just about every street to choose from, after all. Seriously, Istanbul is a ruggie’s paradise, but a bit of research would be well worth the trouble, and you could do a lot worse than visit the ruggie bible Hali magazine.

Buy one, get one free
Buy one, get one free

Cushion Covers

Less ruggy, but fun all the same, I did indulge in an easier, cheaper and lighter purchase of several inexpensive cushion covers. You’ll find vibrantly-coloured cushion covers and textiles all over Istanbul, and they make wonderful gifts and keepsakes.

Iznik Ceramics

Named after the western Turkish town where they were produced during the Ottoman Empire, the best ceramics, needless to say, are hand-painted, predominantly in cobalt blue and white, and based on classical designs. Admittedly the heavier and more breakable of purchases, (which is what put me off) but there’s a fantastic choice of tiles, bowls, plates, serving dishes, jugs, storage jars and vases on offer.

This girl's best friends.
This girl's best friends.

Jewellery

Easy to pack, and a wonderful souvenir of any trip. Istanbul is heaving with precious and semi-precious gems, in a variety of settings. In fact, the amount of jewellery available in Istanbul is bewildering, and you’ll need to take a few days to get your eyes in. Or you could luck out, as I did, and meet a kind woman from the Finnish embassy who tells you about her favourite shop, recommended by all her Turkish friends and colleagues in Ankara. Needless to say, I indulged. (An amber and a turquoise pendant, and an enormous lemon topaz ring, in case you were wondering…)

Evil Eye Amulets

You see them everywhere in shops around Istanbul: evil eye, or nazar, amulets that protect against jealous and evil thoughts or bad wishes. The idea is that the amulet will attract the evil eye and absorb its power before it can do any harm to the wearer. You’ll find evil eye jewellery, beads, key fobs, trinkets, shopping bags and general decorations everywhere - even on the tail fin of certain planes. A nice keepsake – mine now hangs in the kitchen, where who knows, it might even improve the cooking.

In the Spice Bazaar
In the Spice Bazaar

Teas and Spices

The Spice Bazaar was perhaps a little less spicy than I’d been hoping for, but was still fun, full as it was, not only with spices, but teas, Turkish Delight, perfumes and bath products. The spices themselves didn’t strike me as the best of bargains, however, and were possibly cheaper in a less obvious setting.

Curiously, the Turks drink far less coffee than I’d been expecting, preferring strong, dark çay. At the jewellers we were given cups of Apple Tea, which was sweet and refreshing and utterly delicious, and there are plenty of varieties on offer all over Istanbul.

A challenge I'm up for
A challenge I'm up for

Turkish Delight

In the UK, we’re used to cubes of red or green (rose or mint flavoured) Turkish delight with, if you’re lucky, a nut or two inside and a sprinkling of dessicated coconut or icing sugar on the top. In Turkey, however, Turkish Delight, or Lokum as it’s known, comes in all shapes and sizes, with flavours such as lemon, strawberry, orange blossom, ginger, cinnamon, coffee, almond – the list goes on, with a variety of fillings or outer coatings. As the accompanying photo illustrates, it would probably take a good year to try them all. (Well worth the effort, though.) The story goes that the confection was created in the 1700s to appease a sultan with a cracked tooth, and the soft, chewy delicacy that we all know and love today makes wonderful gifts.

Organic Cotton Towels

The last thing I expected to buy in Istanbul were bath towels, but the wonderful Arasta Bazaar was near our hotel and we discovered Jennifer’s Hamam, a shop owned by an enterprising Canadian who arrived in Turkey a few years ago and set out to find the handful of weavers left who could produce her organic cotton range. Not only is she reviving an old industry and creating jobs, she’s also exporting her towels worldwide and gaining a faithful following. The wonderful thing is, not only are they the softest, fluffiest, most luxurious towels you’re likely ever to come across, but, unlike mass-produced ones, they stay that way, even after washing and hanging out to dry on the line. An affordable luxury, and I’m a convert.

What do you think about shopping in Istanbul?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Riviera Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Riviera Rose 

      8 years ago from South of France

      Hi Kalmiya, thanks for your comment. I must say I'm thrilled with my cushion covers, they look great in my living room. I do hope you make it to the market one day - and happy shopping once you get there!

    • Kalmiya profile image

      Kalmiya 

      8 years ago from North America

      Turkish fabrics are so amazing with their colours and patterns. I'd love to get some cushion covers to brighten up rooms. I love Turkish delight or loukoumi too; I've found a very unusual rose flavour! The Turkish market is definitely on the bucket list. Thanks for your hub!

    • Riviera Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Riviera Rose 

      8 years ago from South of France

      Hi Maxmaster, thanks for you comment. I'm guessing you know Istanbul much better than I do, though!! Fabulous city, I'd go back in a heartbeat.

    • maxmaster profile image

      maxmaster 

      8 years ago from istanbul,moscow

      thank you for nice informations :)

    • Riviera Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Riviera Rose 

      8 years ago from South of France

      Hi epigramman - thank you for your wonderful comment, it made me smile. Coffee, Mozart and daybreak over the lake - what a beautiful setting you're in. Good karma back to you from a wet and windy south of France!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 

      8 years ago

      Your entire hub presentation is a Turkish delight. What a fabulous tour guide and world class shopper you are and of course it is all delivered so nicely with your awesome journalistic approach but with really nice personal touches as well -sending to you warm thoughts and good karma from lake erie time ontario canada 8:10am with second cup of coffee , a sublime Mozart sonata and the daybreak over the lake

    • Riviera Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Riviera Rose 

      8 years ago from South of France

      Hi Elenda - I'm sorry I didn't see your comment earlier, don't know how that missed me. Hope you have an amazing time in Istanbul - you will, I'm sure.

      Hi Suzie HQ, thank you for your lovely comment! There's just so much to see, do, eat and buy in Istanbul - I really fell in-love with the place. Would go back in a heartbeat.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      8 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Riviera Rose,

      Oh the memories this brought back to the wonderful trips and times spent in this eclectic mix that is Istanbul. The shopping at the Grand Bazaar, the Turkish tea, buying the famously delicious Turkish delight and yes, buying jewelry. Many thanks for this on point shopping experience where East meets West, voted up, interesting, useful and funny as enjoy your humorous wit here. Shared and Pinned!!

    • profile image

      Elenda 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for this great info on istanbul. Am going there in August with my kids, pls can you share the info on where the secret jewelry shops are. Thanks

    • Riviera Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Riviera Rose 

      9 years ago from South of France

      Hi Kerlynb, thanks for commenting. It's really a fabulous place to shop - do try it some time!!

    • kerlynb profile image

      kerlynb 

      9 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      Whoa! Is this Istanbul? It looks extremely exotic to me! Beautiful. Based on what you said here, I think it would be really good to shop for striking things for the house in Istanbul - Turkish rugs, covers, towels, bath products, and more!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)