Discovering the ‘other’ side of Istanbul
By Samra Muslim
“Samra Muslim has over 10 years of experience in public relations, marketing and communications, social media, event management and brand activation in a diverse range of industries. She is currently a student of social media in addition to her day time job as a marketer. She has been associated with Etihad Airways, and has worked for Starwood Hotels & Resort and Zindagi Trust in the past. She rants on her personal blog at www.samramuslim.com”
So while any sane person would think, we probably went off today to the Asian side of the only city in the world that is actually located in two continents of Asia and Europe … we did no such thing!!!
Day 3 in Istanbul was spent doing something all women love and live for – Shopping! But instead of going out to the more commonly known shopping haunts – the Grand Bazaar and Spices (Egyptian) Bazaar, we started the day walking down Istaklal Street.
Istaklal Street – is a pedestrian street in Istanbul … and not to be missed experience during your trip here. It is quaint, with an old city charm … yet modern with shops housing most of the high-street brands. With historic red tram the running from one end of the approx. 3 km long street to another, small stalls selling buns and other snacks, small shops selling yummy donor kebabs and fresh juices, global brands like Gap, Mango, Clinique & Zara all housed here … how can not fall in love with this place…?
For me some of the discoveries of the day were:
- Turkish chocolate shops selling unbranded and real delicious milk and dark chocolates (with and without nuts)
- Small jewelry stores hidden in little corners of the street that sell an amazing range of silver jewelry, including a collection based on the signature Turkish ‘Evil Eye’ theme. (PS – much cheaper than Grand Bazaar!)
- Souvenir shops enroute to Galata Tower that sell some really offbeat souvenirs than those we typically find around the city.
Next stop of the day was a trip to the top of the 9-storey high – Galata Tower to catch the panoramic venue of Istanbul. Oh-so-worth-it! The view is just breathtaking … and you can literally see the entire city of Istanbul from up there … and what a view. I just did not want to come back!
If nothing makes you love this city, trust me, the sight from the Galata Tower of both the Asian & European Istanbul, of the Bosporus, of the Golden Horn and of the Minarets of the many mosques in Istanbul are guaranteed to blow you away.
Last stop of the day for the shopaholics (aka now a broke me) was the Cevahir Mall. For those who don’t know, this mall is the 8th largest mall in world and one of the 2nd largest in Europe. But honestly, these numbers do not maketh Cevahir a fun shopping destination for me – trust me, Dolmen Mall Clifton in Karachi has more life than this place and I am being kind!
For starters, the place is huge, but is mostly filled with Turkish retail chains and high-street brands like Gap, Zara, Debenhams, Marks & Spencer’s … so the missing were the luxury chains like Dior, Chanel and the likes! To add to it, the crowd is just missing – making it like a dead-ville and just not a fun place to be for a shopper.
Bottomline: visit it to tick it off your list (if it is there) otherwise … suggest you spend some more time of Istaklal.
I shall be back tomorrow with more updates on my adventures … hope you are enjoying reading me rant about Istanbul, as much as I am enjoying Istanbul and sharing my experiences with you.