Saturday, October 16, 2010

Istanbul Districts

Istanbul is a big city. It is a thriving market city. It is not the friend of the big box retailer. Hurray!

We arrived into Istanbul around 1 PM by bus. It was raining pretty well but the temperature was fine at around 20 C. The fellow that rented us the place for the week said there were two corner stores at the end of the street and a bakery at the bottom of the street. I decided to take the family for a walk to explore the hood and the bakery seemed like the place to start. We went down the steep busy single lane hill in the pouring rain. Things started to get interesting almost immediately, so straight past the bakery to the bottom of the hill. This neighborhood reminded me of Hastings Street in Vancouver, actually most of Istanbul looks like 1950s Vancouver. Business is booming.

This is obviously the restaurant kitchen supply district. We walked further and found the mannequin supply district shops, 13 in total all with their own specialty, ethnic, chrome, mirrored, animals, children, realistic, anatomically correct mannequins, you name it, and they had it. Next to that was the tire district then the auto parts district. This was a fun walk in my book. By now Holly had had enough of my featured walk.

The next day was Holly turn and we toured churches, mosques and museums. On the way to these areas we passed through the LED lighting district and I wanted to purchase 5 meters of LED lights. Holly’s eyes started rolling. Seconds before this I didn’t know LED light came this way or that this product existed, then I’m looking to make a purchase. I love this city. We found the districts for electrical, tools, plumbing / toilets, ladders, packing supplies and tape, hookah pipes, back gammon boards, fishing supplies, remote controls, electronics, cell phones, shoes, books, you get the idea. Every shop has its specialty and each shop has their expert and apprentices. The shops are all side by side and compete directly with each other and all are small in size.

The streets are steep and narrow and jammed with traffic. Most deliveries to the shops are by small trucks that are parked down the street and goods are hand trucked to the shops front door. It is an amazingly chaotic system that is visually entertaining.

It makes you wonder about how shops come to be next to each other when you see a row of stores like: mannequin shop, tire shop, steel manufacturing and ladies lingerie, all side by side. Throw in a cigarette stand and a waiter trying to pull you into his café and you are in Istanbul.

Why haven’t I mentioned carpets yet? Because they are ubiquitous. People stand near the popular tourist haunts and strike up conversations with you starting with “can I help you find something? Where are you from? They are nice enough but it just eats your touring time as their sole purpose is to direct you to their carpet shop. You are never more than 20 meters from a carpet store. After three weeks in Turkey I find myself actually starting to need a carpet. Wondering how I will ship it / them home.

Today we went to the grand bizarre. It was spectacular. Getting through the tourist junk was irritating but everything else we incredible. We visited master goldsmiths and silversmiths making elaborate clocks and tea sets and jewelry. We visited a gold scrap dealer that melted recovered gold down and resold it. Julia held about 3 ounces of freshly poured gold, cooled of course. The guy told her to run as soon as he put it into her hands. She didn’t get the joke until I told her later that she was holding $4000. Rhys bought a new computer mouse from the electronics district, Holly bought a back gammon board, I bought a outdoor Ottoman water faucet and we headed home. Tomorrow is our last day in Istanbul and Turkey. I will be back to Istanbul for sure. I barely scratched the surface.

I don’t know if I will be able to shop at Home Depot or Costco anymore. I have never been able to stomach Wal-Mart regardless of my new experience.


Steve said...

That is the beauty of the market system in Turkey. You discover things you didn't know you needed. I suppose that is the same principle that makes Costco successful though!

If you do plan on going to Egypt, your training in Turkey will pay off. If you think the friendly locals who want to "help" you are bad in Turkey, magnify that even more in Egypt. It will be carpets, perfume and papyras though...

Find any good Chevy parts? : )

maryanncart said...

I am still screaming with laughter. It sounds like the trip is satisfactory for ALL of you!!! When Ian was looking at your pictures last night, I heard him say, yes I remember that street etc.!!! Mom

Gisele said...

Hi Holly and family, have just
returned from our TransSiberian/
Mongolian Trip. Was amazing.

Saw St. Petersburg, Moscow,
Lake Baikal, Ulan Baatar and
ended up in Beijing. All is well
in Kamloops, enjoying Indian
Summer. Hugs to all Gisele