Thursday, May 15, 2014

Istanbul, Turkey: The Bazaars & Galata Bridge

Actual date of this event: 2-7 April

After going through all of our pictures from Istanbul, I have decided that I really did like the city. I wouldn't go as far as saying that it is my favorite, but it is definitely a neat city with so many unique things to see and do. Part of why I feel it is so neat is because European cities can start to feel the same everywhere, and Istanbul wasn't like anywhere else we had been. So... I really liked Istanbul, BUT there were a few things that really peeved me - but that's due to my personality.
Two famous sights in Istanbul are the Bazaars and the Galata Bridge. Most people probably LOVE LOVE LOVE the Bazaars, but it is the complete opposite of fun to me. The Grand Bazaar is the home of shopping and haggling and people bothering you. It is massive, and you could find anything you need or want. Because I am not a shopper (which Luke and I are so thankful for), all I wanted to do was take a quick walk through, just to see it. We planned our visit for Thursday with hopes of it not being crowded, and it probably wasn't compared to a Friday or Saturday (just wait for the pictures...). We also took a walk through the Spice Bazaar, which is not too far away from the Grand Bazaar. It is amazing how many retail establishments there are in Istanbul and all of the shops blend together, so it was pretty difficult to determine where one market started and the next one began. All I could think was, "I understand that there are a gajillion people in Istanbul, but this is way too many stores!" After about 15 minutes of walking through both bazaars, I was done. I started to get cranky, and "No, I do not want to buy any of your jeans!" Someone should have gotten me a drink! Note: These pictures are quite awful. Out of fear of losing a camera or a bag, we took all pictures as quickly as possible to not attract attention to ourselves.

After leaving the Spice Bazaar, we ended up just outside of the New Mosque which was such a nice change from the markets. Ah, peace and quiet again!

After passing through a pedestrian tunnel (which of course wasn't just a tunnel, it was filled with shops) we arrived next to Galata Bridge. The bridge looks boring if you just look at it, but when you really really look at it, you see how neat it is. The top level is the road with walkways on both sides, and the bottom level is full of restaurants all selling fish sandwiches for 6TL and also nargile (aka shisha, water pipe, hookah, etc). Lined up along the top are fishermen who sell their fish to the restaurants on the bottom level of the bridge.
Just like most everywhere else in Istanbul, the restaurants cannot let you walk by them without telling you that you must eat at their place or that they have the best food and drink, etc. It is so very annoying, but thankfully they don't really get in your way so you can ignore them and keep walking.

And those guys continue fishing into the night!

The peace and quiet went out the door quickly when we arrived at the base of the Galata Bridge due to loud music coming from the fish boats, who also sell fish sandwiches for 6TL. Basically, these guys grill the fish right on the boat then pass the freshly made sandwich to you. It was very interesting to watch, but my gosh, those boats were rockin'! Anyway, Luke took a little video as we walked around the area.

So what do you think? Would you enjoy the bazaars? Do you know how to haggle (because I sure don't)?? 

Other posts from Istanbul: Galata TowerBeyoğluThe MosquesHagia Sophia & Basilica CisternTopkapi PalaceThe Bazaars & Galata BridgeKariye Museum & Theodosian WallBosphorus & Golden HornKadıköy

The current bridge is the fifth Galata Bridge to be built - construction was completed in 1994.

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