It has over 4,000 shops. That’s about 1,000 times bigger than it needs to be to turn me off. But I went anyway just because it is there and is probably one of the oldest and most famous shopping venues in the world. I just had to see. I lasted about 20 minutes and went screaming for the nearest exit.
This is certainly no reflection on the Grand Bazaar. It’s, well, bizzare! I’m just not much on strolling around looking at things that I have no intention to buy. One thing I did find really interesting was that all the shops are arranged by the type of merchandise they sell. So if you’re looking for a new zipper you find that section where there is store after store selling zippers, button, clasps, etc. Likewise if you need a belt. A very efficient system for price comparison. I like that part.
The nearby Suleymaniye Mosque was much more my cup of tea. It was built in the early 1500’s by one of the Ottoman Sultans of the same name and it crowns one of the seven hills that make up the metropolis of Istanbul. I really enjoyed this visit and I’m sure that I would not have bothered with it if a friend of Joan’s had not recommended it to me. She lives here in Istanbul and is a professional tour guide. I just figured she knows her stuff and I’d be foolish to ignore it. Turns out this is good logic.
As an added bonus, I just happened to be there during the midday call to prayers. The fact that the mosque was being used as it was intended, by local worshippers, rather than tourists made it all seem very exotic.
Just a final note: A friend of mine from Microsoft told me that we “old geezers” (his words) do best to be out and about between the hours of 10:00 and 2:00. Steve! Now that I realize you meant 10:00 in the morning, this is working out much better for me.