I’ve been to many-a-souq in my life but the Grand Bazaar is by far the fucking coolest of all.
We got lost navigating the streets (there are 60 streets and 5000 shops in there), and most of them had closed down for the day because it was Ramadan. We wandered into this little cobblestone cul-de-sac where they sold art prints and carpets, with a tree in the middle and it was like entering another world.
We found our way back to the souq again and continued walking. They had the usual souq-y stuff for sale: shisha pipes, pashminas, Turkish desserts, lamps, clothes … and yet what struck me was the politeness of the sellers. Souq sellers in Qatar or Jordan or Saudi can be pretty pushy, but the Grand Bazaar ones were like, “Excuse me, can I have a few minutes of your time?” and after shaking your head politely they’d back away saying “Okay, have a nice day, enjoy Turkey!” I was baffled; this has never happened to me and I thought it was a prank to mess with my head. And it wasn’t just one or two people — all the sellers were low-key and they kept their distance, making it the best souq experience of my life.
But of course, it could be due to the fact that it was Ramadan and they wanted to close shop and get home as soon as possible… Yet throughout our stay I found the Turkish people to be unbelievably friendly and helpful, and not in a creepy way (our taxi driver stopped by a gas station to buy Lila a bottle of water and a bag of cookies – and even tried to return our tip!) I’d love to see that happen in Paris – and it will, in my dream. I’d go back in a heartbeat if only for the Turkish hospitality. Oh, and for the coffee.
Currently listening to:
Father John Misty