Day 15 – Free Day and Last One, in Istanbul

With no tours planned, after breakfast, we opted to visit the Grand Bazaar near our hotel to divest ourselves of the last of our Turkish lira. We could have gone to a museum or two but we both felt that we had exhausted our energy for another museum.

The Grand Bazaar is a monstrous place. We had a quick visit when we first arrived in Istanbul but wandering around, being assaulted by every shop owner to just go in, without any obligation to buy, particularly at the start of our trip, was easy to avoid. This time, we let ourselves be assaulted and if there was something interesting, we went into the shop. Their first question is always, “Where are you from?” The shop owners must say this 1,000 times a day. They all speak some English, as well as Spanish, French, and probably other languages. They will not forfeit an opportunity to get you in their shop.

Everyone wants to sell you a rug, fine jewelry, designer handbags, and leather goods. There is so much duplication of the wares in the shops, you wonder if there are only four or five owners who have dozens of the same shops throughout the Bazaar. If they don’t have your size or color, they send someone out to their “sister” shop and come back within minutes with something they think you will like in your size.

We found a few items that we decided to buy, especially now that we can bring back 50 pounds in our checked bags for the international flights. On the domestic flights we took, we were only allowed 33 pounds in our checked bags and 17 pounds in a carry-on bag. It is amazing how limiting that is.

We wore ourselves out walking the narrow streets, filled with shops selling towels, scarves (mainly for the religious women) but nice enough to wear at home, four-wheeled luggage everywhere at give-away prices (under $30 US for a large piece), and some last-minute spices and Turkish Delight to share with friends at home. Again, sweet isn’t sufficient to describe these nutty treats.

I am catching up on these posts since I have packed my bags. Jim is napping. We will have an early dinner, then crash because our driver is coming to take us to the airport at 3:00 AM for our 6:45 AM flight to Frankfurt, then on to Houston and Guadalajara. We are ready to be home.

I am downloading pictures, and there are lots of them. Google is a pain because it only allows you to download a total of 25 mb at a time. Some of the videos exceed that number. It looks like I will have to research a better way to get all the photos and then just post them separately from what I have written so far.

Okay, enough griping… We went to our favorite restaurant in Istanbul near our hotel. It has some traditional items but also some excellent western dishes. The other day, we shared a chicken Caesar salad and a hamburger. Both were excellent and a nice change from the local fare. Tonight, we shared mushrooms and shrimp in a well-seasoned butter/olive oil sauce and a steak burger. The slices of steak on the homemade bun were tender and the French fries (very common here) were crispy. The lavash bread served with the shrimp was perfect for sopping up the sauce. We had the local beer on draft, EFES, a delicious brew we have had often while in Turkey. The music on their sound system was Besame Mucho and other Spanish favorites. Perhaps this is a sign that we are ready to go home??

Afterward, we strolled just down the street to get a wonderful Turkish ice cream cone. The young man serving us did his fun bit pretending to take the cone away, then giving it back several times. You can’t help but be entertained. The pistachio for me and vanilla for Jim are absolutely the best. We planned pretty well and only have a few lira left. We will use them at the airport or give them as additional tips to the hotel staff.

My next entry will highlight what we loved about the trip and try to find something that we didn’t like… Time for an early bedtime.




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