The plan for this morning was to meet up with Kathy Hamilton and have her guide us thru the Grand Bazaar. You can check out her website here. This is not the best photo, but she is one of those people who never sits still!!! She is a transplanted Texan who spends her days doing any number of things, including writing articles, exporting textiles and helping people find their way around Istanbul.
As we were getting acquainted early in the day, she found out that we were from Athens and said “Do you know Hans N.?” I sat for a moment trying to reconcile that name with Turkey and finally said “Yes, he is one of my clients”!! It seems that she had worked with him in Washington DC many years ago. Isn’t the world a small place!!!!!
You also need to know that she is an EVIL woman. Her specialty is finding out what types of items you like and then taking you to the best places to buy them. The evil part is that, because she is so good at what she does, you want to buy everything that she shows you….AND we did!!!
As we walked, I dubbed her the “Moses of the Grand Bazaar” because the hawkers and shopkeepers parted as we approached and we walked the entire length unscathed!!!
The Bazaar is a labyrinth of shops located under magnificent domed roofs, providing a “cavern” feel….
It is a small city, with “roads” branching hither and yon and stores filling each and every inch of the isles…… One of the first places that we visited was a wonderful artist by the name of Nick Merdenyan. His art is truly original as he takes large Dieffenbachia leaves, presses them between books and dries them for a year. At this point they develop a leather-like texture. He then uses a small cat hair brush and paints wonderful designs with Bible and Quran verses on them.
Even though he has had many famous visitors…..
….he is a humble man who spoke lovingly of the art that he makes. You can check out his website at www.lordoftheleaves.com (dont you love the name !!)
And, of course, we had to have one!!!!
The next stop was to a Copper store so that Michael could look for a Turkish coffee pot and some Ayran cups……
This store had an abundance of every size of coffee maker…..
….and many other products as well. I have seen the tray in the center used in many situations. The cups of tea and coffee are set on the tray and then carried by the handle. It is a much more stable.
The next stop was to MY sort of shop…..silver jewelry!!!! I think that the name of the shop was “The Brothers” but I could be wrong.
This gentleman spent a long time with me as I looked at and tried on many sizes and styles of bangles.
The cost of the jewelry was determined by the weight of the silver used. The scales were “manual” and it was very interesting to watch as he expertly weighed the articles……
Now, on to the pottery shop, another favorite for both Michael and myself….uh-oh!!!!
It was at this point that we started talking about whether or not we would need to purchase a carry-on suitcase to get everything back home!!! As of time of writing, the verdict is still out on that!!!
This proprietor kindly helped us and offered us tea or coffee. As we had already drunk both at an earlier stop, we declined. So he said, since I haven’t had to spend any money on you, go ahead and pick out another item for free!!!
You can see some of our purchases on the case in front of him. He kindly offered to keep our bags there as we shopped further and we re-paid the kindness by purchasing even more stuff when we returned.
We were now getting a little hungry so it was time to stop for lunch. The cafeteria that Kathy steered us to was one that the workers would use at lunch time. The food was served cafeteria style and it was imperative to get there early because when it was gone, it was gone!!!!
She told us that around 11:00 each morning, the shopkeepers would start calling and ordering their meals which would be delivered to them at Noon. While we sat I saw numerous trays being carried out, each with a plate of delicious food and half a loaf of crispy bread.
We each chose meatballs and various vegies.
Ahhhhh…..we were back to authentic Turkish food!!!!
While I sat there, I saw food being transported from another building into the restaurant and two men pulling a large trash can full of dirty dishes. Kathy told us that the actual kitchen was a few doors down.
The next stop was to visit some of the out-of-the-way nooks and crannies of the market. Kathy led us to a small staircase and we proceeded to visit the upper floor of the market…..who knew there was an upper floor???
I loved that these cats were happily ensconced in the grooves of the tin roof, but in the shade of course…..
The upstairs area held a number of antique dealers and some really cool sculpture pieces…..candlesticks anyone…..
I would love to know the price of these special objects….especially the one on the bottom shelf…..
There were numerous workshops, although most were empty as the noon day call to prayer had just occurred. Many shopkeepers simply left their shops open with no attendant.
As we rounded one corner, Kathy asked if we could figure out what the clattering sound was. She pointed us to this wonderful shop where simple threads were being wound into beautiful braid……
The room was filed with pulleys and belts and the noise was deafening, although Kathy told us that the owner never wore any form of hearing protection.
It was an amazing place!!!!
As we walked I peeked into this store…..
I will look forward to returning here when I am not on a schedule!!!!!
Kathy told us a story about this building which sat in the middle of one of the “streets”. This was originally called the Sultan’s seat as he would come and sit up high and watch what was going on in the Bazaar. In recent times it has been used as a jewelry store. A few months ago there was filming here for the new James Bond movie…apparently a chase scene thru the market….. and one of the motorcycles lost control on a corner and crashed into the window of this building. Because of its age, it is considered an historic building and can only be repaired in a certain way so the jewelry business has been closed for several months and has lost LOTS of revenue as it has been repaired. Can you say “lawsuit!!!!”.
We reluctantly left the Bazaar as Kathy said that she had another special place that she wanted us to see. We quickly arrived at the Cafreraga Madrasah which is an art school funded by the Turkish Cultural Service Foundation.
We were first given a demonstration of making marbled papers and we enjoyed watching as he dotted the paints onto the gelatinous base…..
….used several combs to create a background pattern…..
….and then proceeded to create a wonderful picture……
The paper was laid across the surface and the design was transferred…. We were then given a tour of the complex which includes 15 classrooms where various forms of art are taught. Classes range from one day to several months.
This was the only class in progress and they were working on a form of Calligraphy…..
There were other classrooms for marbling, ceramic painting, pottery, and metal work and jewelry making….. The classrooms were small and intimate and I think that it would be very enjoyable to spend a few days here. The classrooms were around the edge of this outdoor cafe/gathering place…..
…and there were several rooms that were simply designed for relaxation and re-creation. This was our host for the afternoon…..
Since our wallets were much lighter and our bags much heavier, we decided to call it a day and returned to our hotel to relax for a bit.
When it came time for dinner, we decided that we really wanted to try something small and different so out came Rick Steves’ trusty guide. This time we looked at the lower priced restaurants that he listed and decided to try to find “Buhara 93”.
After one small detour, we found the restaurant entrance and were taken immediately up two flights of stairs to the shaded terrace. It was wonderful!!! I mean, how can you miss when this is the first thing brought to your table….. We had beef and chicken Shish-kabobs and loved every bite!!!!
Especially the cold, creamy rice pudding for dessert…. After eating, we wandered our way back to the hotel (without the previous detour) and enjoyed a night of dreams of shopping and food!!!!!
3 thoughts on “Parting the waters….”
I would be in heaven in the dish and fabric shops!
I’d need two carry ons!