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I was so utterly unprepared for the shoppers' paradise of the world.  This despite a friend giving me a map of the Grand Bazaar and a list of vendors outside the bazaar that she could vouch for that sold everything from handmade woven rugs to leather goods before our trip.  What was wrong with me?  I don't know.  Clearly I was worrying too much about the flights or something.

My husband doesn't like shopping like we girls like shopping.  On previous vacations I've limited myself to window shopping or a run into a shop quickly "just to check it out."  If we coupled it with a pub stop it seemed to work out best.  Shopping was never on the itinerary and if time is limited to check out the history, architecture, and cuisine of a place, it is last on my list, too. 

But!  I just didn't know that shopping in Istanbul is ALWAYS on the itinerary.  Nor could I have predicted that my husband actually was relaxed and okay with wandering down the many many aisles of the Grand Bazaar and numerous streets of antiques, bead shops, pottery, and hookahs.  I'm sure this would not have been the case if we'd gone during the regular crowded tourist season, but we practically had the place to ourselves!  Sigh.  I hadn't planned for what I wanted so when faced with all the goods I just went into overload and couldn't perform!

My biggest regret is not having done my research before leaving home on cost of semi-precious stones.  There were numerous stores outside one of the entrances to the Grand Bazaar that had beautiful stones of every hue and facet.  I just didn't want to buy willy-nilly though without knowing I was getting a good deal or with some sort of plan.  I know.  I know.  I did recover in Kusadasi, a port stop three days later, and bought two of the mother-of-pearl inlaid boxes similar to the ones you see above.

If you get a chance to go to Istanbul do NOT make the same mistake I did.  Make sure you allow time for shopping, as you'll need it.  Be ready to bargain.  That's how it's done there.  The shopkeepers want to develop a relationship with you and part of that is talking about the price, but much of it is just chatting like friends.  Both of you have smiles on your face in the end, and that's a successful sale.  How do I know?  Well, we did purchase a vintage designed anniversary ring from a very interesting gentleman at Sofa Art and Antiques...  That's my husband and one of our best friends all smiles after I was fitted and we were walking away ready for some dinner.  That's pretty good don't you think?

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