I never imagined I would go on a shopping spree for Western clothes in Istanbul. Perhaps, in one of those other cities where retail reigns such as Bangkok or Hongkong; but Istanbul? Nah! Istanbul is culture, objects d’ art, and carpets not H&M style clothes.
We headed to the Grand Bazaar in the morning with high expectations. I had envisioned a souk with curios and treasures. Unfortunately, except for the music instrument shops, I was a bit disappointed. Tourist trinkets such as magnets, bookmarks, wallets, and key chains were more expensive than those at the shops near our hotel. Or perhaps, we weren’t really looking as Madame P was more oriented towards Western consumer goods and seemed disinterested. I did get a few small music instruments such as a thin flute and some finger cymbals. Had to bargain really well and stand my ground to lower it to half price. Also bought some of those metallic kebab skewers from a nice shop with a seller who wasn’t pushy. He had nice shiny things that Aladdin would probably go crazy for.
I did enjoy the bazaar interiors with its colorful ceilings and arches.
I can’t recall how many times I said, “Filipino” to merchants beckoning at doorways who think I’m Malaysian. One carpet guy even thought we were from Columbia! Hahaha!
We spent less than two hours just walking around then heid off to a nearby cafe to rest a bit. Madame P was really bent on going to a mall. Since the entire day was really allotted for shopping, might as well. Google came up with Forum Mall as the nearest and most accessible via tram and metro.
While at the tram, we sat across a young lady who smiled and waved her hand in greeting. Turns out she’s a Pinay from Bulacan whose been working as a nanny in Istanbul for 4 months. She seemed fine working so far from home. She says she’s fortunate to have good employers who even brought her to Canada with them. We bade her goodbye as we exited at our stop to change to the metro.
Madame P and I went our separate ways at the large mall and agreed to meet after two hours. I saw a Decathlon billboard outside the mall and went looking for the store. It seems to be sale season now as all the shops were on sale, just like in Baku. Checked out a shop called LC Waikiki which looked like a Turkic version of H&M. Indeed it was. Clothes were at 19.95 – 49.95 L and shoes at 39.95! That’s less than Php 500! Really cheap. The clothes were really nice, too. I especially liked the light cotton shirts. The best thing is they have large sizes! I spent the next 2 hours hoarding stuff. One local looks at my basket and jokingly asks: “Where’s one for me?”
I’ve never shopped so much in my life. By the time Madame P and I caught up with each other at our meeting point, we were both loaded with bags. The Madame had also gone panic buying at Collezione which had 10 L shirts. Stuff was really cheap at the shops. I had to stop myself from buying more stuff at the other stores. We took the metro and the tram back to the hotel just before rush hour began.