Istanbul to Edirne

Saturday, August 27, 2022 - 15:45

After our plan to visit the bazaars last night was scuppered by their early closing times, we got to them first thing this morning shortly after they opened instead. The half hour walk from our apartment in Galata was rather scenic, taking us over the Galata Bridge which crosses the Golden Horn waterway, with views out across much of the city centre including the old city and its mosques. Once on the other side, it was only a couple of minutes to the entrance of the Spice Bazaar which was built around 1660. As you would imagine, it had a rather fragrant smell which hit us as we entered, and all the shops/stalls sold a selection of spices along with other products including Turkish sweets and kitchen items for cooking. We didn't buy anything since we had stocked up on some Turkish sweets yesterday, and aren't sure we are up for attempting to recreate Chicken Shish at home when there are so many great Turkish restaurants locally!

Once out the other end of the Spice Bazaar we hit the cramped streets in the old city which link up to the Grand Bazaar building, and are lined from end to end with shops. Most of the shops sell counterfeit items of all descriptions, from luxury watches, to handbags, to all sorts of clothing. It is quite remarkable how blatant the fake goods are, and they look to be very high quality, perhaps even factory seconds. We aren't in the market for any such items though, so we carried on walking which was a bit of hard work with the buggy as the road started to incline, was cobbled, and had the occasional car going past even though the road wasn't at all wide enough (Istanbul could do with some parking and congestion restrictions). Eventually we reached the Grand Bazaar entrance, with an archway inscribed with the year it opened: 1455. Many consider it the oldest shopping mall in the world, and it is quite incredible to think people have been coming to this same building for over 550 years to shop. We arrived only five minutes after the opening time of 10am, and it was clear that the day was only just starting for most of the shopkeepers. Many were still putting items out, and there were lots of waiters rushing around with breakfast platters and carrying tea to different shops.

We walked around the Grand Bazaar for about 30 minutes taking it all in, feeling a bit lost at times as the different rows of shops all look very similar. Other than a section in the middle reserved for antique shops, there isn't much organisation, with shops selling jewellery, souvenirs, food, clothes, household items, and many others all dotted around the place rather than the ones selling similar items being grouped together. I fancied an Ottoman dagger from the antique section, but it probably wasn't the best idea, and we couldn't find anything else which looked interesting enough to purchase. Other than the thousands of shops, there were also marble water fountains dotted throughout the bazaar, along with wooden structures which I think were used to call people to pray.

With the bazaars visited, our tick list of the main sights of Istanbul was complete and it was time to move on. Overall we really enjoyed Istanbul, and can see there is still a lot of the city which we could explore if we had more days. It is the kind of place we will have to come back to in the future, perhaps as an overlay if Turkish Airlines have some temptingly low prices to the Far East which make a stop worthwhile some time in the future. There is definitely a lot more to do here than other common stops like Qatar, Abu Dhabi or Dubai if heading that way.

Driving out of the city was quite an interesting task, since the motorway on the south side had a lot of congestion, so it made more sense to head north from the centre to the motorway which runs near the new airport in a much quieter part of the city. This took us up and down some steep old roads on some of the many hills in Istanbul, getting to again see just how huge this place is. We were driving for about 30 minutes before the city finally ended and there were no more houses, shops and tower blocks in sight. Our next stop was 90 minutes west to the city of Çorlu, where we had been invited to visit our friend's company's hazelnut factory. This was a fun and interesting little detour, where we were greeted with typical Turkish hospitality, including super strong Turkish coffee, and a VIP tour of the facility with everyone giving us a lot of attention. We had to leave Summer outside due to hygiene regulations on the factory floor, but Lucy was allowed in and she had a great time grinning at all the workers and seeing the nuts being processed, all while wearing a plastic hairnet. Working in IT and HR we don't get to see things like this usually, and it was fascinating to see both the automated machinery and the manual human touch involved to produce a packet of hazelnuts for the shop shelves.

With our stops for the day complete, we finished the drive up to the city of Edirne which is the closest point to the Bulgarian and Greek triple border. We didn't fancy crossing over to Bulgaria this evening in case the queues were bad, so we are staying in Edirne and plan to leave fairly enough to beat the queues. Edirne is actually a fairly interesting city, once being an important Roman city called Adrianople and the capital of the Ottoman empire before Constantinople. There doesn't seem to be much to see in the way of ruins though, and the city seems to have new residential blocks going up all over the place, much like all of the rest of Turkey we have seen. For dinner we of course had to have Turkish food for the last time in Turkey, and we found a restaurant (Asma Altı Ocakbaşı) which served delicious Turkish cuisine and the low prices we have become accustomed to here. It was actually the closest meal we have had to some of the quality Turkish food we find at home in North London, making me wonder if the North London Turks are from around this area originally.

Tomorrow we head back to the European Union for the first time in four weeks as we cross over into Bulgaria.

Dog Notes: 

Not a great day for Summer today since we couldn't take her to the bazaars and she also had to wait outside when we went into the factory. To make things worse it started drizzling while we were in the factory, so when we came back to get her from the grassy area outside she was a bit wet and not too happy. Luckily we can make it up to her the next few days as we leave Turkey for (hopefully) more dog friendly countries back in Eastern Europe.

Electric Vehicle EV Notes: 

Today marks our last ZES charging stop of the trip and we are going to miss low Turkish electricity prices!
- ZES charger at Rys Hotel Edirme, located in the underground car park which didn't have any barriers when we arrived luckily

Miles Driven: 
The Rest Port Hotel


You went to my old town!

Add new comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.