Sunday, 20 March 2011

Istanbul Bargaining

Well I’ve been away for a few days, being a classic tourist in Istanbul.  We ate a lot of kebabs, did a fair amount of sightseeing and did a little bit of shopping.

One of my favourite places in Istanbul was the Grand Bazaar, a massive indoor market of shops and stalls selling everything including carpets (lots and lots of carpets), leather jackets, soap, lamps and various trinkets.  My boyfriend John is an unbelievable bargainer, I have never seen anything like it. He honed this particular skill when travelling around Morocco for a few months with friends a few years ago.  His philosophy is that there is little point in shopping unless you can negotiate a good price.  Where’s the fun otherwise?  After watching him wear down one shopkeeper to the point he almost walked off in a frustrated huff knowing he’d reached his lowest price, and then shaking hands with another shopkeeper who loved John for his banter and bargaining skills (we were then invited to check out his very good denim shop and carpet shop too, but had to decline) I knew I needed to get in on the action, so went in search of what I truly desired, fabric.

I found a few fabric shops within the bazaar and went rummaging.  They had a lot of cheap cotton rolls at the front, very bright colours but poor quality.  But when you wandered into the depths of the shops you discovered all sorts of lovely things.  They had silks and satins and wools, lots of embroidered pashminas and blankets, so much fabric it was overwhelming.  I find fabric shopping a bit intimidating at the best of times, so stuck with the brief of cotton, and only cotton.  And I found this fabric straight away. 
It’s a lovely cotton, quite drapery but with a good weight, as the touts would say “very good quality, nice price”.  It worked out about £6 a metre and I got 3 metres.  Good for a summer dress, or vintage pattern shirt waist dress methinks.

Then at the counter I spotted a lovely lush red fabric with cream flowers dotted about, but when the shop keeper took it down from the shelf to show me it was a polyester that was so synthetic it felt like plastic.  I was so disappointed and the shop keeper was so keen to help me find something he rushed off to find a similar thing in cotton.  But he brought back a bright pink fabric with a grey paisley pattern, not exactly what I was looking for!  Then a colleague got involved and disappeared further into the shop and came back with a nice red cotton but with a very large flower pattern.  It was a lot closer to the fabric which had caught my eye, but still not right, Then I got ushered into another shop next door to look around, but which ultimately had nothing I wanted in there.  Finally I gave up, feeling rather guilty for all the effort they’d gone to.  Then when re-entering the original shop to buy the first cotton I’d found I looked up and saw this:
Well then I knew I wanted this one, and it was cotton (phew, although I think it may be a poly mix).  John by this point had reached the end of his tether (20 minutes hovering in a very compact fabric shop is too much for even the most patient man) but he still managed to knock the price down by 5 Turkish Lire a metre (I got 2 metres of this one and am thinking a blouse would be good), and I was proclaimed “a very good explorer” by the shop keeper so all in all a good days shopping!

Istanbul itself is very East meets West. Fascinating and hectic, historical and modern. Here are a few touristy snapshots of our trip to enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. Wow what lovely fabrics! Very good finds indeed :) I look forward to seeing what they become. And your pictures are fantastic too, i have never been to Istanbul but have heard good things so shall add it to my "to go" list x


Please comment, I'd love to hear from you

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...