Europe,  Istanbul,  TDM,  Travel Journal,  Turkey

Istanbul (Turkey) #3: Grand Bazaar, Egyptian Bazaar & Galata Bridge

If you missed the previous episodes, here are the links

Istanbul #1: Visit of Saint Sophia
Istanbul #2 : Discovery of the Sisli district

Today, I take you to the markets and I take you to see the famous Galata Bridge in Istanbul. This bridge, although it is very beautiful, does not connect Europe to Asia. No no no! Let’s say that it rather connects the old city (European side) to the more modern city (still on the European side). The Asian side is ultra modern 😀

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

The Great Bazaar

Shopping is my passion. And strolling in the market is obviously an activity that I enjoy very much. Especially when I do it in Istanbul, where the colors, the atmosphere, the smell? awaken all my senses at once. The most famous (and very big) market is the Grand Bazaar. It is 10 minutes walking distance from the famous monuments of Istanbul so it is very easy to “fit” it into your program, even if you stay in Istanbul for only two days

It is super famous and has existed for over 500 years. Of course, because of many fires, the structure we see nowadays isn’t more than 500 years old, eh? This bazaar is really very very large, there are many entrances and exits (if you don’t get searched, you have to pass in front of a portico which makes “beep” at all times, before entering. Very basic security measures). Type Grand bazaar d’Istanbul on Google Maps, it’s not easy to find it alone. The Grand Bazaar is covered, but around it, there are a lot of stores as well. I’m surprised we’re not so busy. Unfortunately, the most beautiful stores are those where there is a sign “NO PHOTO”. I let you dive into the chaotic atmosphere of this market on a Saturday, through a few pictures. Even if people remember with nostalgia the great era of the Grand Bazaar, full of silk, leather or fur products… for a lambda tourist like me, I find the products sold here (cheaper than before) very varied, very nice, very different from what I am used to see – even if you can find, among other things, counterfeit and certainly made in China products

What impresses me the most are the ostentatious gold jewels. They are really huge, and I must admit I have never seen any woman wearing jewelry this big. In my opinion, it should serve as more investment? (it’s prettier than ingots), it’s not possible to wear such a heavy necklace 😀 By the way, stores do sell ingots. It can be small gold coins, up to an ingot as big as my handle. I love jewelry with Arabic calligraphy on it (it’s marked Allah), it’s super nice ! Fortunately for my wallet, they are very flashy and do not suit me

Coming out of the big bazaar, we see a whole street of blacksmiths, who sell keys that are too pretty (we wonder if they open real doors), and copies of Aladdin’s lamp of all sizes <3 Ohlala ohlala !!! There are also metal trays, I don’t know if it’s handmade with the repoussé method, or it’s a stencil that prints the pattern on the metal. They sell a lot of metal tea sets, which is quite surprising because at the restaurant, I see them drinking their tea rather in a flared and transparent glass. In short, you will have understood it well, my eyes are full of it, and my senses are so solicited that I almost fell in applause, of tiredness, hunger and headaches

Faruk Güllüoglu

We had an emergency rest at Faruk Güllüoglu, a pastry chain I saw the day before, it was so crowded! We tell ourselves that it must be good. They seem to sell something to eat for lunch, but when we want to order some toasts, the waiter explains us that there is a power cut and that we have to be satisfied with their pastries instead. So I ordered the famous traditional apple tea (with pieces of dried apple), a kind of mille-feuille/lasagne with cheese inside, some pastries… It’s good but not wow either. On the other hand, I validate the apple tea, it’s super good!

The Egyptian Bazaar

We walk 15 minutes to the Egyptian bazaar. It has this name because this bazaar was built thanks to the taxes brought back from Egypt (thanks to them!) but there are no Egyptian merchants here. Don’t expect to find mummies as souvenirs either 😀 Here, one smells much more spices and herbs than in the Great Bazaar. However, it is very small, there are two main axes and that’s it! We visit it quickly in 20 minutes top chrono. They sell mainly spices, tea, but also cheese, beef jerky, and sponges

The grail of this market is saffron. Turkish saffron, which costs 25TL/100g (100g or 1g? I don’t know anymore), comes from the safflower (Safflower of the dyers) and according to the sellers, it’s bucks compared to Iranian saffron. A Turkish friend told me the day before that there was a real business around saffron, bought for 4TL in Iran to be sold at 200TL a gram here in Istanbul. But you had to come across real saffron hehe. I try to trust fate by going to a random store. Here, the price is clearly displayed at 60TL per gram. The salesman gives me a demo by putting some Iranian saffron in hot water, which turns yellow. According to him, this is the proof that it is real saffron. Knowing absolutely NOTHING about saffron, I decide to buy a gram to do scientific tests alone quietly at home (8.6€), which corresponds, in volume, to the size of the palm of my hand

Result : he sold me some buckshot ! When I got home, I watched different YouTube videos (like Wikipedia, YouTube is such a reliable source ahahha) and it is said that since saffron comes from the red stigmata of a flower, its color is inside that stigmata. So by putting a little saffron in cold water, the yellowish color should take a little time to come out. While my saffron gives off color instantly on contact with cold water, until it turns orange, proof that it has been stained, at best by turmeric, at worst not a chemical component. Anyway, I wanted to buy some to put in my face lotion, so it doesn’t bother me too much that it’s turmeric (which is very good for the skin), here, I bought a fake product to sleep less stupid tonight 😀

New Mosque District

Coming out of the Egyptian bazaar, we find ourselves in the neighborhood around theNew Mosque. Since we are outside the bazaar, the prices are suddenly softer. I read on the internet that we could have more chance to find real Iranian saffron here but hey, I’ll try again later in Morocco (no no, it’s not ironic, hope is alive). While JB compares prices from one stand to another before opting for 500g of dried apricots (at 28TL per kilo or 4€) and 500g of dates (super booooones!). You absolutely have to fall for pistachios too, sold at 6€ per kilo. They also sell loukoum per kilo, and not expensive at all

We try to visit the two beautiful mosques next to the New Mosque (which was new 500 years ago what) – left on the picture – and Rüstem Pasa Camii – right on the picture – but both are under renovation :'( SNIF, it looks like it’s under renovation until 2019

It’s not too serious, we take the opportunity to explore the surroundings of the Bosphorus, with a beautiful view of the Galata tower in the distance

This is where you should try the fried fish sandwich. Next to it, there are boats leaving in all directions (towards the Asian shore, on the islands, to make a tour etc.) it is super animated and one feels quickly lost

Galata Bridge

On the Galata bridge, there is always an army of fishermen, it isn’t possible to take a picture without a fishing line on the looool picture. Some of them take advantage of it to make a trade, selling bait and fishing accessories. I think fishermen are professional, they come here to earn their living, not for leisure. For those who want to take beautiful pictures, you have to go to the lower deck level, where there are restaurants. In the middle of the bridge, there is a very large photo area to take beautiful pictures of the New Mosque and Galata

View on the left, still in Europe

View on the right, still in Europe

On the other side of the Galata Bridge, in the Karaköy district, there is a quiet area full of restaurants. We are much closer to the water here (we realize how high the water level is, and it looks deep too). The fishermen are accompanied by stray cats, and very greedy. They do not hesitate to steal a small fish from time to time. But the fishermen are very nice and don’t hurt them. All these types of fish can be found in the menus of restaurants in the surrounding area

Come on, two pictures of the sunset to show how beautiful the place is!

On an empty stomach, we dine in a pretty trendy place, with lots of bars, tea rooms and burgers. These are the two parallel streets, where the restaurant Pim Karaköy is located. Dishes here are much more expensive than elsewhere, in the 30TL (almost 5€). It’s cool to pay only 5€ per dish, because in 2016, it would have cost 10€ and I would have sulked to pay 10€ for so little food 😀 Anyway, the place is very trendy, full of well-dressed and rich locals, which changes from the popular restaurants we are used to frequent since the beginning of our stay in Istanbul

Part 2: Practical Tips


  • Grand Bazaar: free access
  • Egyptian Bazaar: free access
  • Dried apricots: 28TL/kg
  • Pistachios: 45TL/kg
  • Dates: 25TL/kg
  • Grilled Fish Sandwich: 16TL
  • Restaurant Faruk Güllüoglu: I think my tea cost me 16TL
  • Restaurant Pim Karaköy: about 30TL/ plate (attention small quantity), on the other hand their homemade limonata (lemonade) is to fall (16TL ?).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *