伊斯坦堡 (5) - 大巴扎 / Istanbul (5) – Grand Bazaar


I’m a poor backpacker; therefore I tend to avoid souvenir shops.  Firstly I just don’t have this money.  Secondly, I hate and suck at haggling.  Thirdly, even if I’ve bought something, chances are it’d be too big for my small backpack.  Therefore, I held some “healthy skepticism” and curiosity to see if this Grand Bazaar (guide book says it’s the biggest bazaar in the world, I automatically translate it to “the biggest souvenir shop in the world”) going to be an eye opener for me.


This the world’s biggest bazaar was started by Mehmet II when Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople.  It began as a textile bazaar, and later became a bazaar mixed with other trades, such as, jewellery, pottery, spices and rugs.  Later roofs were being put up over the streets to make it one large structure (canvas, then wood, then brick).

「大巴扎迷宮」/  “The maze of Grand Bazaar”


It takes roughly 20 minutes to walk to Grand Bazaar from the old town, or 4-5 stops on the metro.  I walked along the metro line to the Grand Bazaar stop, and couldn’t find any road sign for the Grand Bazaar, despite it has got over 10 entrances.  It came to me later that perhaps that’s why there’s no sign posting, it’d be far too confusing for people.  In the end, I had to ask some locals for direction, and got the usual ‘come into my shop to have a cup of tea’ sale tactic in return. 


I have always thought I have a rather good sense of direction, but all it took was 5 minutes walking through the alleyways in Grand Bazaar to defeat me.  I told myself ‘rather than making effort to locate myself, I might as well let fate to take me where I’m going’.  I accidently looked up and saw some signs hanging from the ceiling telling people about Grand Bazaar’s history.  What a nice find.


As expected, most of the shops are souvenir shops, Turkish lamps, porcelain, hookah, rug, and textile, so on.  There’s even a gold and antique market in the central area of the Grand Bazaar. 


I was somewhat surprised that most of the shop owners stayed in front of their shops talking to other shop owners, never paid much attention to me when I looked through their merchandises, perhaps it’s because I’m not a girl.  It seems that Turkish men like to call foreign women pretty or beautiful, tell them “I love you” and ask them to be their girlfriends.  They also like to put their hands around their shoulders or waist; personally I think it’s gross and it’s disrespectful to women.

「土耳其咖啡」和「雀巢咖啡」的分別 / The difference between “Turkish coffee” and “Nescafé”


After roaming inside the Grand Bazaar for about an hour, my stomach started to grumble.  I thought, the day has only just begun, why am I hungry again?  I thought of two possibilities.  One, I just can’t stop eating; two, “shopping” is an exhausting activity.  Of course there is a third possibility, that is both first and second possibilities are true.  So I decided to stop by one of the café inside the Grand Bazaar.

在喝了幾天cay(土耳其語:茶)之後,決定今天嘗試一下土耳其出名的土耳其咖啡。我坐下來之後向侍應生說我要coffee,然後在他的介紹下點了一種叫baklava的甜點。侍應生跟著問我coffee要不要milk?我想怎麼問我要不要milk這種怪問題,土耳其咖啡當然是不要milk,所以我說No, thank you

當他數分鐘後帶了一杯大大的,黑黑的飲料回來,我還在想那是什麼,侍應生已經說:「先生,你的Nescafé。」我想我呆了近十秒,然後指向鄰卓在喝土耳其咖啡的歐洲夫婦說:「我要的是那種咖啡。」 侍應生說:「那你應該在order時說Turkish coffee⋯⋯」我:「⋯⋯」。最後,當然是把那一大杯難喝又沒有奶的Nescafé 喝掉(浪費是可恥的⋯⋯)。這算得上是小小而又難得的一課。

After drinking cay (Turkish for tea) for several days, I decided to try out the famous Turkish coffee.  I told the waiter I wanted coffee and ordered something called “baklava” under the recommendation from the waiter.  Then the waiter asked me whether I wanted milk in the coffee?  I thought, what a strange question, of course no milk in Turkish coffee, so I said ‘No, thank you.’ 

Several minutes later, he came back with a large cup of black drink, I was still trying to work out what that was, he’d already said: ‘Here is your Nescafé.’  I was stunned for about ten seconds, then pointed to the European couple sitting next to me who were drinking Turkish coffee, said ‘That’s the coffee I want.’  He then said ‘Then you should’ve ordered Turkish coffee.’  I was totally speechless.  Of course, in the end, I drank that horrible black coffee, since I was going to pay for it, I wasn’t going to let it wasted…  I think that’s a lesson learnt.



Let me talk a little about baklava.  It is a Middle Eastern dessert. It is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey (Source: Wikipedia). 

To be honest, I don’t really remember what it really tasted like, but I can sum it up in one word: SWEET!  It’s so sweet that I only managed to eat 2 of those that day, and became slightly nauseous when I thought about finishing the last one.  I really have no idea how the Turks (or Middle Eastern people in general) enjoy this.