22.03.2013 - 22.03.2013 8 °C
Today we went to the Grand Bazaar, and for those of you who don't know, it's a very large, very old building that has over four thousand shops. All of the crisscrossing streets were packed with both people selling and buying, as well as the four of us who desperately just wanted to look at a couple things in a little peace. We had read earlier that it is near impossible to have the opportunity to look at something in a shop without the vendor running towards us saying, "Would you like this, very good price!!" But we were usually able to get them off our backs eventually, or just ignore them and walk away. A couple had some good lines though, like when my mom said, "Just looking," he replied with a shrug of his shoulders and retorted "Just selling." We also heard "Is it my turn to sell you a carpet?" and 'Those are nice shoes." Also, Hannah's hair colour provided a ready conversation starter and she received no less than ten comments today.
We spent the morning looking at the shops, and we even purchased a few small things. But at around lunch we decided to go out of the bazaar for a little and take a look around for some lunch. Hannah and my mom went off to pick all of us some Turkish wraps and pizzas while my dad rested his back and I kept him a little company.
After lunch we went back in the bazaar for a little while longer. My dad had an unsuccessful look for jeans, while I found a shirt I was looking for and Hannah got a pair of earrings. My parents also purchased a traditional coffee maker for my aunt, who will be joining us in our next destination... LONDON!
But as we were there we noticed that the mosque that was right beside the bazaar was being surrounded by crowds of men, all praying and listening to someone over a loudspeaker. Every Friday there is a congregational prayer, but it's mostly just for the men. The men are encouraged to congregate to pray, while the women can do it alone, or with people, and it doesn't have to be at a mosque. Even as we walked around the shops, many of the narrow streets were crowded with men praying or walking up and down with their prayer carpets. It was a really interesting experience.
In the end my dad and I got tired quickly and went home first, and were joined later at home by the second half of our party. Mom and Hannah reported that the bazaar got a lot busier in the afternoon. Hannah cooked us some great chili, which was especially good if you took into consideration the ingredients she had to work with, but we're all adapting pretty well.
The day was one that I really enjoyed. It was really cool to be able to see the Friday schedule for the male Muslims, as well as the bartering and regular banter between shopkeepers and customers. And I think that even though we weren't really used to this whole system, we were able to adapt pretty quickly, which just goes to show that you really do learn something new every day.
Find more information at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Bazaar,_Istanbul