This will be one of my last posts on Istanbul. The thing that I haven’t discussed in favor of my rants about animal jails are the AMAZING shops in the city. I mean, ridiculously cool stores from vintage boutiques to kitschy gift shops, eclectic clothing stores, massive electronic warehouses (okay that one isn’t quite as exciting) and everything in between. I found most of them in New Town near Galata Tower, which is the Northern half of the city on the opposite side of the Bosphorus Canal from where major cultural attractions including Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, and the Blue Mosque are located.
The above image is from a badass thrift shop, somewhere in Beyoglu (New Town). I found the majority of the stores my first day there after pulling an all-nighter thanks to my 2 am flight and was thus basking in absolute delusion. Somehow, I decided to venture out and walk around and randomly chose the best neighborhood for my interests and current state of exhaustion. Keep in mind that New Town is on a hill and the streets make absolutely no sense unless you speak Turkish. They’re also riddled with stray cats, street art, toothless old men, and packs of adolescent boys who may try to practice their dirty English phrases on you. True story: One of them said “you is sex,” to me before they all erupted in laughter and ran off into an alley. The streets smell like a mixture of cat piss, dirt, roasting chestnuts and ice cream cones, a combination that is oddly comforting considering Istanbul is basically a shot of chaos to the heart.
If you ever get the chance to go to this cultural mecca, don’t be fooled into thinking that good shopping happens at the Grand Bazaar, which is basically a mall turned into a rat maze filled with swindlers, gypsies, and over-priced trinkets. On the outskirts of every major market you will find people selling the same goods for half the price, and by supporting them they will often tell you secret spots in the city that will make your experience that much more authentic. Just be curious, grateful, and for the love of god don’t act like a cliched tourist.