I hope that on this day of love you have found someone or something that you truly enjoy!
The Grand Bazaar is the largest covered market in the world. This is not a place that you walk in to hungry, tired, or in poor walking shoes. We went here a couple of times. Day 1 was just to get the lay of the land, try to figure out where everything is located and get a feel for what we might want to purchase. Day 2 was where the serious shopping and serious haggling began.
The first price you are quoted at the Grand Bazaar is never your final price, it is really just a jumping off point. I would love to provide you with tips on becoming the best haggler, but the best I can say is that you have to be willing to walk away if you don’t get your price. Come back another day, another time, or find another merchant. If like me, you have bright red hair and stand out in Istanbul, good luck! This strategy will fail you!
You can find a whole array of items at the Grand Bazaar ranging from pillows, rugs, and blankets to tea sets, head scarves, and jewelry. Some times it’s the best deal you can find, others it is not. The labyrinthian alleys of the bazaar make getting lost and finding your way half the fun (but again, don’t go hungry or tired, it’s an exhausting adventure all alone!)
It was a jam packed day of sightseeing for us, but since we managed to play our cards right we were able to knock out three biggies in the Sultanahmet district. Before all of this sightseeing could begin, we needed some nourishment and grabbed a quick bite to eat at Caferaga Medresesi. This cute little place is in the middle of the block, down an alley, tucked in to a cute courtyard. The courtyard doubles as an artist’s retreat and a cafe, the food was delicious and reasonably priced in what is otherwise a very touristy area.
Since we love food it is pretty natural that we also love learning how to make local dishes. The only thing we planned before heading to Istanbul, was our cooking class with Cooking Alaturka. The classroom/restaurant can be found in the Sultanahmet, behind the Blue Mosque. Upon arrival, we were offered coffee or tea (choose the tea) and given the list of dishes we would be making. The class started at 4:30pm and was about 4.5 hours long (including dinner). We made a total of 5 dishes and were able to enjoy them with the 8 other people in our class.