EuroCruise 2010: Carpets &The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

Gooood Morning Istanbul!
After a long day of trekking Istanbul's delectable sights and spices, I woke up to a breakfast of fresh cherries from Turkey. Super sweet, and readily accessible at our ship's Buffet line.
Day 2 in Istanbul isn't as long as the entire day... but it did involve a lot of walking... and shopping. Clearly, ToT is NOT a morning person.
First Stop: Matis Store for a handmade carpet demo
Matis is popular in the whole of Turkey as a mecca for carpets, ancient jewelry designs, ceramic tiles, traditional Turkish garb. I'd compare it to the Shanghai Tang of Turkey.
Carpet making is an ancient Turkish craft that modern day Turkey is trying to revive and resuscitate.
Each thread on a carpet is knotted by hand using a special double knot to ensure its tenacity through the years. Silk thread is used in the premium carpets, and the quality trickles down as you go down to wool and then cotton and poly.
Since we've seen several carpet demonstrations, we sat down and played the naive tourists awaiting the royal treatment.
As we were waiting for the carpets to come rolling out, they served us some Sweet Apple Tea which, I swear, is the most delightful sweet tea there is. Think apple juice with a bit of spice and served warm, it's customary to accept this whenever someone offers. Don't worry, they won't drug you. It's more of a sign of hospitality in every Turkish store to show their gratitude for your time.
The agile men roll out carpet upon carpet, dazzling you with the colors, and the monochromatic effect that happens when they turn a carpet clockwise.
John, the ULTRA Salesman, who would not stop talking and sold the carpets as if we were Aladdin.
Then they served us some Turkish coffee, which is a bit strong with a mucky texture to it. It's sweetened with some natural sugar and is actually quite enjoyable if you like that mocha flavor to your beans.
I think I enjoyed more the cute cup & saucer duo than the carpet show. Cuteness and must find on my shopping spree to follow.
Since carpet making is a dying art, Turkey is making everything possible to keep its legacy alive, offering tax free on carpet purchases, plus express shipping via FedEx to your country of residence for free. Yes, they want you to buy that carpet so bad.
John was so into his selling element, he even laid down the motherlode of carpets, this small roll cost about $15000
This nice lady is busy making a small decorative carpet, which will probably take her 3 years to finish. That's why carpet making is such a rarity, because the amount of time it takes to complete one carpet takes so much of your life... but what a legacy it is to uphold.
Then, right outside Matis, we found this man who has an old-school shoeshine stall, while the other dude is selling bootleg carpets that look just like the one we saw in Matis, but for only €20! Guess where my brother bought his carpet?
After Matis, we walked a bit on the streets, were there were stalls selling clothes and souvenirs already
Which meant we're close to our next destination: The Grand Bazaar!
The Grand Bazaar, or Kapali Carsi, is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. Opened in 1461, the Grand Bazaar has about 58 covered streets and over 1200 shops. Visitors at the bazaar go up to 400,000 on a good tourist day. A lot of jewelry shops specialize in gold, as well as leather goods and coats, and then jewelry too. The Bazaar is composed of two sections; the modern part which is open and offers the best artwork, and the covered part which is a whole quarter on its own and surrounded by a wall and entered through eleven gates.
It was a little disappointing for me, because I was able to see a lot of these items at the Spice Bazaar from the previous day, and the amount of counterfeit and fake bags and jeans that littered the Bazaar made me feel like I was in Greenhills or Shenzhen all over again. I was there for the exotic wares!
I wanted to buy some of the hand-painted plates they had, but was scared they might break during my EuroCruise, this man offered my parents 12 camels and his store in exchange for me as his wife. My Bro countered that he also wanted a Kebab stand. Bastard brother.
Then there was this man who wanted to sell us some Stainless Steel kebab skewers, and upon closer inspection we saw RUST in the damn skewers! Tetanus, anyone?
I ended up with a , don't laugh, Starbucks Frappuccino, which I felt obliged to purchase just so I could use a clean toilet.
Then we spotted Aynen Durum, which looked like a promising Kebab stand wherein to hone our Kebab expertise.
The stall had the promises of fresh herbs and ingredients, and I was getting excited just thinking about what condiments I would put.
I sat down and smeled the fresh spices at hand, turmeric and chili being one of them. But alas, we were unlucky because the stall wouldn't open for another hour or so, even after begging. Can't hurry quality, I guess.
We walked a little further and found another stand, Hayatin Meshur, which also sold Turkish ice cream.
The hungry bunch not sure what to order.
I wanted the Lamb Doner, but Ice Cream churner seemed to want me.
He even gave me a sample of it, and it tasted like frozen yogurt. YUM.
More Meat for ToT Please!
ToT & Sisters - don't we look alike? Lol.
After the shopping at The Grand Bazaar, it was time to head back to the Celebrity Equinox and say ciao to Istanbul.
Cruise guests watching the beautiful ancient city as the boat was moving forward to our next destination.
So, bro & I had this smart idea to hit the gym before having dinner, which we knew would be another 4 course meal.
So we dressed up for working out, then decided to look around and get some sun until we were far enough to hit the gym.
And then we got a little bit, uhm, in the zone, and just started feeling lazy.
I blame it on the fantastic view of Istanbul and it's exotic skyline.
This way to the buffet!
Yup, we got burgers & hotdogs & wings and brought it to our room. And then we took a NAP. YUP. BLOB.
After our yummy nap, we still cleaned up and sat down for a proper dinner at the Silhouette Dining Room
Antipasti with Herb Vinaigrette
Escargot! Yes, Snails
A Summer Radicchio & Radish Salad
Chicken Parmigiana with Baby Carrots & Asparagus
Penne with Gorgonzola Creme Sauce
 Finale: Bread Pudding with a Vanilla Bean Anglaise.
Next Up: Archaeological Ephesus.


  1. I offer you 50 camels! Haha

    But yea, mass production is ruining the turkish carpet industry. A machine made carpet is about the same price except you change the dollar sign into peso. Most people say they fold the edges of the carpet so you can easily avoid stepping on it. But i bet the real reason a corner is flipped is so you can see its hand made :P

  2. I love Istanbul! It's the only place where I ate lamb without knowing it was lamb (I am not a fan of lamb) at all...and I loved it! Everywhere else it's too gamey.

    $15,000 for that tiny rug?? I remember spending hours in a carpet shop. My parents ended up buying this huge one for about $5K less than the little one you mentioned. It lasted about 10 years (and would have lasted longer!) were it not for it being flooded because the AC leaked onto it :( Yay for insurance!

    I want some kebab now. Did you try the cimit?

  3. HILARIOUS! The Apple Tea looks fabulous. Mmmm...

    Ummm...ToT, do you really wear a hat when attempting to work out?

    Dear Mr. S.,

    50 camels is too low of an offer. The turkish man at least offered his tiny store too. I'd recommend including a suckling pig or two into your offer. :)

  4. Istanbul is my dream city !
    Wish the very best to the carpet industry out there and thanks for sharing some really cool images !

  5. I can't believe we've yet to visit Istanbul! If you were mesmerized by Istanbul, I think you'd be even more so by Marrakech. Looking forward to experiencing this city ... thanks for sharing your photos!


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