the Grand Bazaar – If you’re a serious shopper, you need a full day or two here and a guide or a map and a compass. For most of us, a few hours is more than enough. One of the oldest and largest traditional covered markets, there are more than 4,000 shops on over 60 streets and they are not laid out on a grid, much. As long as you have an ultimate exit plan and plenty of time, it’s a wondrous place to get lost in. Just about everything you can think of is for sale here, but leather, gold and silver jewelry, ceramics, textiles and carpets are good buys in Turkey. Shops selling similar items are grouped together. Merchants in the Grand Bazaar can be quite aggressive. If you’re shopping for a big ticket item, you should go in with some knowledge about quality, firm resolve and a sense of humor.
the Egyptian Spice Bazaar – This 350-year old market traditionally sold exotic food stuffs – spices, medicinal herbs, incense, oils, but now sells a jumble of products to compete with the Grand Bazaar for the tourist trade. We recommend buying mass produced souvenirs elsewhere (if you must) and support only the serious, established vendors here. Your guide will help you distinguish which is which. Shops that specialize in nuts, spices or Turkish Delight, for example, and are free of trinkety clutter, tend to have better products.
A cruise on the Bosphorus – This is the strait which separates Europe and Asia at Istanbul and connects the Marmara Sea with the Black Sea. (The bodies of water moving in a north-easterly direction are the Mediterranean Sea-the Aegean Sea-the Dardanelles Strait-the Marmara Sea-the Bosphorus Strait-the Black Sea.) This is one of the busiest shipping routes in the world and watching the activity from a café on the shore is a very pleasant way to pass an hour or two. Then take a cruise or a ferry on the water for a front row seat to the centuries of dense shoreline development. It’s thrilling right down on the choppy waterway with all the marine traffic and you move along at the perfect pace to visually absorb the sites – monumental mosques, lavish Ottoman palaces, defensive walls and towers, moldering ancient warehouses, and hundreds of distinctive, mostly 19th-century, waterfront houses of late-Ottoman-era elites.