My favorite bazaars
Naturally, a glamour granny loves shopping. I certainly don’t sneeze at some of the world’s most beautiful shopping malls which by themselves often are architectonical works of art like you find in Milan or Istanbul. If and when I need a new pair of Manolos or a Louis Vuitton travel bag, that is.
Otherwise there is nothing more colorful and entertaining than a Middle Eastern bazaar, not only because of the merchandise but because of the whole atmosphere, the smells, the noise, the haggling people. Nothing gives you a better insight into local culture than putting on your comfy flats, stuff your money in your (zippered) trouser pocket, don your sunglasses and mingle with the Alis, Ahmeds and Sevgis of the world.
Here is a selection of my favorite bazaars.
Everybody who visits Istanbul is bound to spend at least a few hours in one of the world’s largest and oldest covered markets. Opened in 1461, the complex consists of more than 58 covered streets and alleys, housing over 4000 shops, countless restaurants, two mosques and two hamams. Best of all, it’s not only a tourist attraction, but the weekend shopping place for the citizens of Istanbul as well.
Look what’s on offer.
One of the smaller emirates right next door to Dubai, Sharjah has two shoukhs, an old one and a modern one. What I found so absolutely fascinating about the old one was a total opposite to the usual hustle and bustle which you encounter if you happen visit on a Friday night. Can you imagine a bazaar with nobody in it? Eerie and somewhat otherworldly.
The emphasis of this very picturesque bazaar in the ancient coastal town of Byblos is on art and craft. It’s quite small but crammed full with hand made clothes, painting, carvings, jewelry and embroidered pillow cases and bed spreads.
Nostalgia reigns in the ‘Windy city’ on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, reached by a ruler straight desert road from Marrakesh. Located within the mighty walls of the fortress, Essaouira’s bazaar still reflects the hippy past of the city. Forget the shouts and pushy merchants of Marrakesh, here the shop owners and stall keepers sit patiently in front of the premises, watch the visitors go by, drink mint tea and guard their exquisite wares of painting, embroidered clothes and slippers, hand tooled bags and belts or colorful jewelry. If you really insist, they might even condescend to show or sell you something…or not, depending on their mood.
Each bazaar in each country reflecting a different life style and attitude and each one is a unique experience. Which one is your favorite?