My parents visited Istanbul when i was 7 years old and since then i´ve wanted to see that great Bazaar they were talking about. What was all the fuzz about it?
Well, the oldest covered market in the world is much better than i imagined, it is like an enchanted maze. If only those walls could tell us stories!
Last year, in summer, i visited the Grand Bazar with husband. We are not the typical tourists (we only bought lokum, tea herbs and some bracelets there, no bags, no clothes, no "nada"), we usually prefer hidden spots, where life is more genuine and nobody tries to impress you, where narrow passages lead you to disguised labyrinths, tucked away in less visited corners. So, after walking for about half an hour, we decided to get away from the persistent shopkeepers, challenge this touristy hub and see what else could the market offer.
How can someone find tranquility and hidden spots in the Grand Bazaar?
Get lost! Wander up the first stairways you see!
Most of them will take you to green courtyards, little cafés and artisan ateliers. You´ll maybe smile to a local, wake up a sleeping cat, find shadow on a hot summer day or drink çai under a tree. These hidden patios used to be the Grand Bazaar´s "hans". In the past they functioned as inns, places for the merchants and their animals to rest and have access to food and water, but now they´re mostly private offices or ateliers.
My favorite corners are the orange patio, the little thread atelier and the vineyard penthouse. You´ll recognize them once you´re there ;)
Some people will tell you there is too much chaos, others will insist to watch out for pickpockets but i recommend you to wonder through the hidden hideaways of the Grand Bazaar maze and find new non touristic spots!
... and watch out for pickpockets, of course! Always, not only in Istanbul! ;)