Souvenir shopping; it's never been something that tops our agenda while exploring new places. In fact, it doesn't even make our agenda, most of the time - but Istanbul is different. Istanbul has the power to tempt even the most reluctant of shoppers (that'll be us) to part with even just a little of their lira. So, whenever we go there, we always return to Fethiye with a few little treats in our rucksack.
But our souvenir shopping is a bit different. While we love to browse around shops such as Istanbul Ceramic and admire (and covet) the beautifully-painted plates and vases, the goods we do buy, more often than not, serve a practical purpose. In the past, we've told you about our favourite Beyoğlu turşu (pickles) shop, Petek's. How long could we spend in that shop, gazing up at the multi-coloured pickle displays and breathing in the pungent vinegar aromas...
This is our Istanbul shopping heavenWe bought a few jars of turşu while we were in Istanbul last October - but we also bought a couple of souvenirs from this street, here. These are the types of Istanbul streets that capture us, take away all sense of time and hypnotise us into buying something. How we've missed this street in the past is beyond me - it's directly behind the Egyptian Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı) in Eminönü, close to Kuru Kahveci Mehmet Efendi - and we'll certainly be returning next time we're in Istanbul. There's allsorts for sale here - if you like that type of thing.
Handmade baskets in Eminönü, IstanbulWe came across this little area after our visit to Süleymaniye Camii. As we descended towards Eminönü, the first treat had been the surprise view down the Golden Horn that we spotted through a gap in the towering walls. And then we found ourselves in this network of narrow walkways, rammed full with anything from street food to haberdashery to cleaning products to baskets...
Too much to choose from...And all manner of hand carved wooden products...including kitchen utensils! Loads of kitchen utensils. And you know us by now. We love our food, and with that comes a love of gadgets (of the traditional, rustic variety, in this case, of course). Yes, we were in awe of Süleymaniye Mosque, but areas like this have an equal effect on us.
And maybe the shop owner spotted that in our eyes as we eagerly picked up our souvenir of choice; a wooden spoon. "3 lira," he said.
"Bargain," we thought. "No point in haggling when we're getting a good, sturdy wooden spoon to add to our collection."
We paid the man his money and wandered along, new toy in hand, browsing the other shops as we passed. This is Turkey. We should have haggled. Our new 3 lira wooden spoon was 2 lira just a few shops further along. Lesson learned? Probably not. We were on holiday, after all.
Do you buy unorthodox souvenirs when you're away from home? What tempts you to part with your cash?