Monday, December 15, 2014

Mall of Istanbul vs The Grand Bazaar

Every trip to the airport, and there have been quite a few this year, has taken us past the Mall of Istanbul which opened for business at the end of May. Malls are a relatively new thing in Turkey. There is some concern that malls will eventually mean the loss of local markets.  Based on our experience over the past weekend, I doubt that will be the case any time soon.

We spent Saturday at the "Grand Bazaar".  This Istanbul institution was going strong, crowded with tourists, shoppers and even a few folks like us who arrived with a list of things to buy. We watched a couple of Estonian men, with the help of a local guide, buy diamond/gold rings which cost in the thousands of Euros. We were served tea, but the vendor brought out a bottle of Raki and paper cups from under the counter for these fellows.

As usual we stayed near the airport and took taxis to the Grand Bazaar.  Depending on your airport hotel the fare to the Sultanahmet is about C$25-40 one way and can take 20 - 40 minutes depending on traffic. Parking in the old city is impossible and means you must walk back to your car when you are finished, if you can find it!  Hotels near the old city have limited parking.

We spent Friday afternoon at the Mall of Istanbul finishing our Christmas shopping and returned on Sunday to enjoy some family friendly activities.  None of the Turkish movies interested us, but we did enjoy 10 pin bowling, air hockey and the MOIPark amusement park.  There are rides for small children and a whole floor of rides more suited to teens and adults.  The rides are well staffed, and clean. The staff don't speak much English but even so, a couple of them convinced Nicole and I to go on a ride which swung us up into the air and tumbled us upside down.  We lived and we laughed, but it was the scariest ride there. Even when it was crowded the line ups were short. We rode all the rides we wanted (about 22 total) and spent about C$100.00.  There are lots of access points for MOIPark throughout the mall.  In addition to rides there are arcade games and a small stage for little children to dance on.

Sam and Nicole!

By four o'clock Sunday afternoon the mall was a mad house.  It was noisy and crowded. I spent about 90 minutes finishing my shopping. My patience by the time we met for supper was worn thin.  The food fare was bedlam.  There are a few restaurants in the food fare where you are treated to table service.  We had supper at one and headed back to the hotel.
Cam, Nicole and Johanna.

Cam drove to the mall both times we went.  Parking is free and underground, and it was easy to find a spot near the escalators. Like other underground parking garages we've used in Turkey, the underside of the car was inspected with a mirror and the guard opened the back hatch.  Not sure what possible use this inspection was since it was hardly thorough but perhaps it serves as a deterrent.

The purple/blue track is for the roller coaster which I went on TWICE!
(I was afraid both times.)
In celebration of the new year, many malls are decorated with lights, tinsel and even "Christmas" trees, but the Mall of Istanbul had no decorations.  Never the less, lots of the shops were selling lights, tinsel, Christmas trees, ornaments, door wreaths and Santas.  Perhaps Christianity will come (back) to Turkey the way it has arrived in other cultures, piggybacked on other festivals.

Turks certainly seem to share the North American passion for shopping. Our weekend in Turkey was a great change from our everyday existence.  Sam said on the way home "I forgot I was in Turkey".

1 comment:

  1. Great experience for you guys! Glad you all got to go to Istanbul. I was wondering who was driving ;-)