Like a kid in a candy shop in Istanbul |3| Turkey

April 5, 2010 1 comment

We’re back home, and I haven’t had a chance to tell you all about Istanbul yet. I felt like a kid in a candy shop. Here are some of my favorite places:

In Beyoglu near Taksim square, on the very famous pedestrian Istiklal Caddesi at number 83, there is the oldest and most beautiful candy shop, where you’ll find some of the very best lokum in town. All sorts of Turkish delights…

Haci Bekir dates back to 1777 and was appointed the chief confectioner to the Ottoman court:

For more delicious Turkish desserts, stop at Saray further down the street, and try the kunefe or simply a baklava.

At least one half day must be spent at the Grand Bazaar, Kapali Carsi (literally meaning the closed bazaar). It’s fascinating at any age.

I usually bring back some towels because Turkey is famous for that. I like their softness. The ones at Abdulla have nice weaving patterns (next to Fes Cafe, everybody will know it), or at Egin Tekstil for the more “hammam style” towels (ask for the shop of “The Doctor”, everyone will be able to direct you in the textile section of the bazaar). Here he is below, quite a character. Children will love his weird cat with one green and one blue eye.

Just a few shops up the alley, stop at the one photographed below, for beautifully weaved fabrics from Anatolia. The owner is a grumpy old man who won’t sell you anything.

If you continue in the south direction, you’ll end up at the Spice bazar, closer to the golden horn.

If you’d like to bring back a kilim (my favorites Turkish carpets), then plan on spending some time bargaining (rule of thumb, 30-40% down from initial price). A book or some sort of parallel activity for the kids might be welcome…

Nur Carpets and Kilims has a beautiful selection, Dogan the owner is fluent in English and French and very knowledgeable. I left his shop with 3 kilims this time and the feeling that I got a good price out of it. Therefore, he’s also an excellent salesman. You can find him right before entering the bazar from the main gate. Exact address: Vezirhan Cad. Kaya Is Hani. No. 86. Tel:90 212 527 4683

At least another half day should be spent in the old neighborhood of Cukurcuma, part of Beyoglu. It’s famous for its antique shops, its flea market on Sunday morning, and it has become a cool part of town over the last ten years. It’s not far from the trendy area of Pera where you’ll find the shop of Autoban, my favorite Turkish furniture designers.

This is Cukurcuma:

Incredibly beautiful shop A La Turca was The trend setter in Cukurcuma. I just love everything in this 4 floors house. Erkal Aksoy, the owner, has such a special eye. And he is a Turkish delight in himself..

Visit all the neighbouring shops as they all have some interesting things. I found a very nice lamp at Ayse Orberk’s, around the corner from A La Turca. And also Serif Ozkilic at the beginning of Cukurcuma Cad. (number 60) is a talented interior designer with her own antique shop for more than 20 years.

For lunch break, you can eat at Cukurcuma Koftesi. Their meatballs are delicious, you order them with a white bean salad, and an ayran to drink (yoghurt). They’ll serve all of this with fresh white bread. Hmm…. You’ll find it down the street from A La Turca before arriving onto Cukurcuma Caddesi.

And here’s for some inspiring window shopping in Cukurcuma..

When we finished our day shopping, we went for a drink to Tom Tom Suites, a new hotel with a fantastic roof top terrace overlooking the Bosphorus. Right across the street from the Italian and the Russian embassies. Better to take a taxi as it’s not easy to find.

BozAround tip:

Get the Luxe Guide on Istanbul, it’s full of good shopping addresses.

I also used the Everyman City Map Guide on Istanbul, which is always a reliable source of information.

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