Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas shopping in Istanbul

Richie and I spent most of the day doing some shopping in cool places along Istiklal Caddesi. We explored some interesting hidden shops and markets. Its amazing what you can find if you just have a wander around!

We found some cool shops with souvenir type stuff, as well as really interesting antique shops, all hidden away in a beautiful covered market with ornate architecture and statues to decorate.

We also found a sort of market that just seems to have second hand book shops. There were tons of them! Sadly, they all seemed to have just Turkish books. This second-hand book area once again confirmed an Istanbul trend that we have observed: all the shops of a certain kind seem to flock together, if you will. There is a light district, which is streets with just lamp shops. Lamps of all kinds, chandeliers, ornate lamps, trendy lights, etc. Pretty cool. Then there's the musical instrument district. Tons of shops with drums, stringed instruments, you name it; all on a few streets clustered together.

After our shopping we stopped to refresh ourselves with a warm cup of sahlep, a traditional Turkish winter drink made from ground tapioca or orchid root. Its served hot, and its white, and has a sort of milky texture with a generous sprinkle of cinnamon on top. Lovely.

Anyway, it was a good day. Unfortunately, I developed a headache, which is decidedly un-festive, so I stayed in while Richie went to meet friends for some holiday cheer. I think he's treating himself to a Guinness at the Irish pub.

And now I'm off to bed.

A small mosque on Istiklal Caddesi

The ornate gates to one of Istanbul's most elite high schools, Galatasaray Lisesi. About two seconds before I took this photo there were about 30 police officers standing outside the school, because just to the right of the school a Turkish Communist Party gathering/protest had just finished. There are always large groups of riot police on Istiklal when ever any sort of protest or march is taking place.

A small part of the second-hand bookstore 'mall'

Some beautiful antique silver Turkish coffee serving sets

Lots of really interesting and beautiful antiques

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