January in Istanbul is fairly quiet but that does not mean you should not be alert at all times. We thought this was particulary bad around The Blue Mosque and on Mondays when a lot of museums are closed.
While I was taking photos in the courtyard my husband was approached by a carpet tout. He talked about being brothers and sisters in the eyes of God, he also knows the names of (English) shops i.e. John Lewis department store, who he said were his customers. He waited by the door when we went in and was there when we came out.
As we entered the Mosque we were chatted to by an English woman who said she was a nanny working in Istabul. She chatted to us again when we were in there, giving us some advice about how to deal with the locals.
When we came out of the Mosque the man was there, insisting he showed us where his shop was 'just round the corner'. It was not of course and when we got there we were invited in. We said 'No' to carpets and leather coats (he had one of those shops too, also 'just around the corner'). We got back to the main square and headed off in the direction of the Hagia Sophia and met the English woman, who was sitting on a bench in the fountain area. Was she waiting for us? She said she was going to the Spice Bazaar and did we want to walk with her. We did this and heard more of her story about running away from her Turkish employers to join a family in Paris the next day. We declined her invitation to go round the Spice Bazaar with her. Was she genuine? we don't know.
Unique Suggestions: Do not engage in conversation about where you come from or what you do. Do not follow anyone to their shop as it will not be just around the corner. Be careful about accepting non-locals on face value.
I recommend to you to eat in places where the locals eat.For example in Sultanahmet area do not eat in the main street and following streets.Go to Sirkeci down to hagia sophia and ask for Lokanta (Restaurant in turkish)You will arrive a small square (Hocapasa sokak) with full of local restaurants filled up with turkish people.6,00 YTL is good for a porsition of meat balls and salad and water-bread.If you eat turkish pizza (pide) with cheese 4,00ytl
My son bought a post card from a shop in front of hotel Erboy. He came saying"it costed 1 yl". Everywhere they are sold by 6 or even 10 for 1 yl.I went to the shop and asked for the price of a post card, the woman , a good moslem one (she had the costum of moslem women) gave me the same price :1 yl .I was very angry .She answered "my postcards are different" then her husband called her , it was time for praying.I heard the name :Zeynep.
In front of Erboy hotel, ebussud cad.
Every morning I passed a sop , stuck between hotels yasmak sultan and sude konak, in ebussud cad.The owner heard me speaking french to my little son."Oh madame, I leave in France" yes he spoke perfect french, was happy to talk to us, invited for a tea.Second time the same, then the third.One day he asked me to have a look at his carpets, I said no thank you.Another day he just wanted to speak about France, it was hot I accepted a glass of water, he called a young boy working there : carpets ! "which one do you prefer? I said none! he did not stop , the carpets were shlak, shlak , shlak ........ we are friends I don't want to sell you a carpet, I just need some money, you MUST help me" this is what he said! There were about 30 carpets.I ran out , never stopped there again.
When you walk from sirkeci rail station to hudavendigar cad , 30 meters on your left hand you can see a restaurant called URFALIM, kebab and lahmacun.Round the corner in a small street which goes behind the station there is a café, waterpipe.It looks nice but, but.I first order a turkish café for what I gave 20 yl note, the waiter gave me back 6 yl, as I noticed he said"I 'm sorry" I thought it was a mistake, it happens.I decided to eat an omlet, there were none around.I turned back to the same café , asked for an omlet if possible.After 30mn they brought me one in a big plate, the omlet looked like a piece of paper, very thin! nothing else, I'm sure they did not use more than 1 egg.Took a café again, asked for the bill: 23yl.
Be carrefull , the place is always empty, with a turkish decoration, stuck between a very durty hotel(you know what I mean) and another kebabci.nothing to do with urfalim, just in front.
Touts for the carpet shops are all over the main tourist sites. They will promise that they are not a guide and tell you that whatever you are headed to is closed for a time.
Fun Alternatives: It is not a bad idea to buy a carpet here but try to get a local's help before you start shopping
Dont get sucked into the carpet buying scheme going on around the old city. Not unless you know a lot about carpets and want to buy one. They lure you in and convince people to spend beyond their means.....
There is a website operating out of istambul, turkey called www.realtimelodging.com or www.cheaphotelsresorts.com
its a fake website with none of the phone numbers working. In case you try to book thru them they will immediately take the authorization of your credit card and deduct the full amount. The website will say that you can cancel within a certain time limit with no charges. First they will not be able to give you the reservation requested and later when you try to cancel they will deduct one night charge irrepective of time limits.
Unique Suggestions: Immediately cancel your credit card and report it to the card company. Those from Istambul kindly report it to Istambul Police. A fraud site operating from any country brings bad name to the country.
Don't whatever you do have a meal at the Konyali restaurant at the Topkapi Palace unless you are prepared to spend, spend spend for "ghastly" food. We ordered coffee and a spinach pastry (10YTL). The pastry was just that..a spoonful at most of spinach.(see photo)
Only problem is that you need to spend at least half a day at the palace and there is a nice view from the restaurant. My advice is that you take something to eat and eat in the beautiful gardens and if you must sit and admire the view order only a tea or coffee at the restaurant. Prices start at 6YTL and go upwards (see price list photo).
Don't pay the price that they tell you to pay, unless it's fixed!
Unique Suggestions: Like many places, you really have to learn to haggle - without feeling bad about it! I wanted to buy a bag but was not prepared to pay the asking price. The shop owner wouldn't give in and neither would I. So, I walked off and then eventually the shop assistant came running after me with the bag 'and' agreed to my price.
Fun Alternatives: If you don't get anywhere with haggling, don't worry - there is always somewhere else!
I was ripped off and threatened buy a couple of street vendors during my september 2007 visit. A friend and I happened to stop by one particular vendor that was close to one of the the metro stations not sure exactly where.I saw a couple of nice lighters and other things that would make nice souvenirs, I was told the lighters would be 5 ytl each which I thought was expensive but didnt feel the urge to haggle after a long day of haggling. The vendor offered to engrave the names on the lighters for no extra charge, I asked again would there be an extra charge and he said no it would still be 5YTL, once he messily engraved the names in all of 3 minutes he said 50YTL. I laughed and told him that there was no way I was paying that much for those lighters we agreed to 5YTL he told me he was charging 3YTL per letter engraved. I told him I wasnt paying that amount and he started yelling in turkish and english saying that you will pay I already put the names, another vendor or friend came over and told me to pay 50 YTL or me and my friend would both be robbed and and left with nothing. I then proceeded to look around for police but there were none around, I was so angry and yelling back at them but it was causing a scene and there were more of them than there were of us so i threw 20YTL and walked away to the train with my friend tagging beside me , all along with them yelling behind me. I was extremely nervous, I was later told by some turkish friends that they were kurdish mafia in that area and it can be dangerous to deal with some of the street vendors.
We walked through the Grand Bazaar. We spent a couple hours here. I felt like it was a big mall. There wasn't much that interested me to buy and prices were expensive. There was a lot of jewelry. I was hoping it would be a nice place to people watch, but was dissapointed.
Unique Suggestions: Ask the street merchants or locals to recommend a contact at a store. You can negotiate prices if you find a good salesman
Fun Alternatives: Just walk through and go to the Egyptian Bazaar where there is more food.
Walking in the parks of Istanbul you'll see a lot of sellers of various food stuff - Indian corn, sunflower seeds, fruit etc. Try to be selective in what to buy, as "all is not gold that glitters" :)
Once I saw a man selling, as it seemed to me, some fruit resembling small watermelons. They cost 1-1.5 turkish lira depending on their size. When I asked the seller if it was fruit, he said "fruit, fruit" and without asking us divided it into 4 parts and... poured salt... And the "exotic fruit" turned to be just a... cucumber!
So have a look at the photo so not to do the same mistake! :)
I recently got a message from Ozalp from Turkey, saying: "Your cucumbers are young (unripe?) melons. We use them for making pickles. Actually I'm desperately seeking for them nowadays."
Well, thanking Ozalp for the info, I still want to say, that whatever it be, cucumber or melon, never taste it, as it doesn't worth it at all, maybe unless it is in form of pickles. :)
Welcome to Grand Bazar...where u paid sometimes the triple or double of the prices if u compare in other locals stores....
Where u get little tired to play games about how much do u really wanna paid...is really nice place but at the end u leave the place almost exhaust...
If u really want to get lot of presents...before shop there go and look around im 100 % u will find huge difference of prices...im the queen of shopping hehehe so..let me know if my tip help u!!!
Unique Suggestions: Compare price..if u have digital cam take a pic..with the price or take note...then keep shopping around and compare prices..do not shop the same day..this was my mistake :(
Fun Alternatives: same as above
Grand Bazaar shop owners know from your eyes you are foreigner or not.Your clothes your face and eyes.Gives you touristical price.For be awaring from rip off.Check the stuff which you buy from about 20 different shop.
Bargain and bargain.This is just for Sultanahmet area.Grand bazaar and surroundings.
Rest of the istanbul you can pay the label what says.
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