One thing that Kagan showed us is how Istanbul like to group their shops, we drove down one street and it was all hardware, he said if you drove down this other street you will be able to see all the shops that sell crystal chandeliers, so on and so on.... We passed another section where there were rows and rows of bikes. This led to the story of Circumcision. When a young Muslim boy turns four – five it is their time to be circumcised. The father and uncles take the young boy out for the morning and the mothers and aunts gather all the family to the house for the celebration. The father and son return and with the bed set up in the middle of the lounge room the operation is performed. Don’t panic, now a day’s anaesthesia is applied so it is relatively painless, but Kagan (pleased that he is Christian) remembers going to friends ceremonies where the boy was held down by the father and uncles until it was over. As this is a celebration there is a reward and the young boy is showered with gifts, which gets back to the original story, this is when boys get their first bike.... a bike he can’t ride for several weeks!!
Our next stop was the Beylerbeyi Palace. Young at only 150 years old it was the summer palace of the last six Ottoman Sultans. We crossed one of the suspension bridges that link the European side of Istanbul to the Asian side. Apparently they are not going to build any more suspension bridges and if the need arise they will built underwater tunnels to link the 2 sides. A lot of locals prefer to live on the Asian side as it seems much more lush, green and open than the European side. Walking around the palace you can once again see the opulence in which these sultans lived. Unfortunately this year the officials decided we could not take photo’s inside the palace, according to Kagan it seems this can change with every visit.
Now it was time for the Grand Bazaar, an area so big that you couldn’t cover all of it in the couple of hours that we were there... though once you saw one type of stall you have seen them all... Kagan gave us a few hints on how to bargain successfully. He said that it was really important to look at them straight in the eyes to let them you know that you mean business. Unfortunately I think one shop keeper who thought himself smooth and charming, mistook my determination for flirtation. After we completed our transaction, we shook hands as you always do, but he held on... tight, while he tried to make his move I frantically was looking around for Garry to come to my rescue but he had already left the shop. As Casanova tried to steal a kiss I managed to free myself from his grip I raced out of the shop only to find Garry pointing the camera and grinning at me as he captured my exit....... grrrr Kagan tells me it must of the been the green eyes as they are not used to them. LOL
We wandered around the bazaar picking up a few more trinkets. What we always find amusing is the on selling ...... as soon as you purchase anything, no matter what you will always hear “would you like a carpet with that”....... I am sure that everyone in Istanbul owns a carpet and leather store and if you enter one they will try to get you into the other. We did find it all a bit overwhelming and decided that we much prefer the much more relaxed spice market.