HOW TO NAVIGATE A TURKISH BAZAAR?
My “travel sister in crime” Sheena and I are your proverbial older adventurers. In the early sixties, we are ready to take our bags and leave at any time, wandering the world in search of new experiences, points of view and adventures. Sheena is a retired accountant and I am a lawyer who has become a travel writer.
She negotiates a Turkish bazaar
Sheena and I had arrived in Istanbul, a city that, with its style of history and oriental mystery, the memories of the legendary Orient Express and Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent had a special appeal. So did the Grand Bazaar, our first port of call after having settled comfortably in our small hotel in the Sultanahmed district. Sheena, who duly consulted our travel guide, said: “Do you know that the Grand Bazaar has more than 58 covered streets, more than 1200 stores and 4 main doors? Completely Shocked, I was surprised, “if that is not the shopping heaven on earth then I must say that I do not recognize that, what is it. I think we better plan a full day there.” This turned out to be a wise decision.
She dresses for a visit to the bazaar
Two things are absolutely negative for a woman who visits a bazaar in Turkey or anywhere else in the Arab world: heels and purses. What the guide calls “streets” are actually cobbled alleys, very uneven and often slippery or simply small aisles. Heels are a sure way to shoot at a sprained ankle or worse. Comfortable floors or trainers are the best. According to the guide, up to 400,000 people visit the bazaar daily. As in all parts of the world, crowds attract pickpockets and the Grand Bazaar is no exception. Therefore, handbags or handbags are not a good idea. Both Sheena and I put on cargo pants with many separate pockets that close with buttons or zippers. That is the ideal outfit for a visit to the bazaar.
She arrives at the bazaar
From Divanyolu Street where our hotel was located in Sultanahmed, we could have taken tram # 7 to the bazaar, but we chose to take a walk because it is an opportunity to see other interesting places, such as the oldest hammam in Istanbul and two wonderful mosques in the path. . “Look, there is the clock,” said Sheena.
The clock is at the top of entry number 1, one of the four main entrances to the bazaar and a good orientation point. That entrance takes you directly to the ‘gold district’. I was already in heaven. My weakness is gold and jewelry, and Sheena are the bags. We both had ample opportunity to enjoy.
She deals with Turkish merchants
“Hello, ladies, where are they from? What is their name? Come in, I have the best prices!” I had barely stopped at the first store to admire a particularly beautiful gold necklace, when the first Turkish jeweler interrupted my reverie. I shrugged, expressed a smile on my face and said: “bllawee, ykekeii ekkiika”. Sheena looked at me as if I had gone crazy. “What did you just say? That wasn’t Turkish, right?” “Of course not,” I smiled. “That was silly. Don’t forget to praise their products in Turkish blood since unknown times. If you want some peace to look at things your way, you have to defend yourself without offending, so speaking in alien languages is the best way. “
Sheena just laughed and successfully tested the ‘ekkika’ part of the next enthusiastic seller who attacked us. The answer in any known language is not a way out, especially in Istanbul, merchants are multilingual, even for a few words. I heard them speak in Japanese! Judging by the face of the client in question, they even did well. Don’t shake your head either. In the Turkish language of the body, this gesture is translated as: I do not understand, please repeat. Exactly what you do not want. Turks indicate “no” by briefly shaking their heads up. If he does that, he not only denies correctly, but also shows that he is familiar with Turkish habits and customs, that he is more respected and less annoying.
She makes a purchase
“Oh sheen examine wonderful piece” I pointed to a unique 22-carat pure gold bracelet shown within the store. “I would really like to see that.” “Hello ladies, where are you from? What is your name? Please enter my store, I have the best price,” the seller called us immediately. This time, suddenly, I spoke English and Sheena and I entered. “Do you like a drink, tea, coffee?” Negotiations never take place in Turkey without tea or coffee. We both accept tea. “My name Muhammad Ahmed Sultan,” said the pleasing jeweler, shaking hands. It took me a while to convince him that I was only interested in that particular bracelet and nothing more and another time until, finally, he came up with a sale price after touching his calculator a lot. I made a counter offer of 2/3 less.
Sheena paled and looked like she was going to pass out. “It’s going to kick us out,” he murmured softly. Our new friend Ahmed raised his hands, shook his head but began to touch his calculator again. Still very tall. “No, please” I told her to get up, “it is already too much. It doesn’t matter, I’ll look around and come back later.” I was halfway to the store, a slightly confused and embarrassed Sheena behind, when Ahmed came running. “Madam,” Ahmed said, “please wait my final offer for you.” What he showed me now was totally amazing really acceptable for me and the transaction was finally closed with a happy ending, the bracelet then was wrapped in a beautiful packing and payment was in cash, with the negotiation of another percentage of the cash price. “You have nerves,” Sheena breathed. “But I like that. I will now try this myself.” Now this was his shot, since from start he had placed his eyes on a attractive bag. Sheena was really a quick study and managed to lose a lot the sale price of her purse. Happily promoting our purchases, we relaxed in one of the many small cafes in the Grand Bazaar with a Turkish coffee and a truly sinful piece of baklava.