Istanbul: The Grand Bazaar

A visit to Istanbul is not complete unless one spends some time walking through the streets of the Grand Bazaar. Dating back to 1455, the Bazaar is among the oldest marketplaces in the world, and attracts upwards of 400,000 visitors a year. During our visit to Istanbul, we obviously wanted to visit this historic landmark, and take it in for ourselves.

The Bazaar is very large as 3,000 shops are spread over 61 covered streets. Additionally there are several “uncovered” streets surrounding the covered portion of the bazaar that offer additional shopping opportunities in case the 3,000 shops inside the Bazaar are not enough.

The Bazaar is certainly quite the destination. Rows and rows of shops peddling everything from jewelery, clothing, housewares, antiques and typical tourist souvenirs dominate the landscape. My wife did strike gold when she found several gemstones at ridiculously good prices. Fortunately her purchases were authenticated when we returned and it was confirmed that the stones were authentic (I had my doubts considering the prices we paid).

Otherwise, to be perfectly honest, I was not overly impressed with the covered portion of the Bazaar. After about 15 minutes, I was able to figure out the pattern of the things that were sold and there was a lot of repetition. Dozens upon dozens of shops sold the identical items and I suspect the difference would be in prices and negotiating skills of the shop-keepers. After walking up and down 2 or 3 streets, they began to all look the same and my interest waned. Fortunately (or not!), my wife had enough interest for the both of us and being the dutiful husband that I am, I marched on…..

Here are some scenes from the Grand Bazaar:

One of the entrances to the Bazaar

Another of the many entrances

My first view once inside the expansive Bazaar

Ornate tile and architecture was evident throughout

Further examples of the tile work

Scenes from the “streets” within the Bazaar:

After walking through most of the Bazaar, we turned our attention to the streets surrounding the Grand Bazaar. What I noticed was that most of the shops outside the Bazaar were far more interesting and diverse than the shops within the Bazaar. If you do visit the Grand Bazaar, please make sure to take time and wander the streets, you will not be disappointed. I also noticed far more “locals” shopping in these shops, which told me quite a bit about where the best deals may actually be.

The streets were full of people but I never felt that I was in a crowd. Apparel and housewares dominated most of the offerings, but the variety was far better than what I saw inside the Bazaar. Scarves and headwear especially dominated the Women’s apparel options. My wife stocked up on Pashminas for friends and family and found great deals everywhere she looked!

Speaking of variety, look what must have specially arranged just for my visit:

Right there in front of me.......

Yes, that is a Lufthansa A380 Beach Towel. Out of all the items in all the shops, this towel was perhaps the most western, non-turkish item I would see in the Bazaar. What are the odds! :) However I suspect that it was not an officially licensed product of Lufthansa nor Airbus.

The streets were full of active shoppers and shops offered ample opportunities for them:

In all, I ultimately wound up enjoy myself at the Bazaar, but primarily because of the shops on the outside. Having a sunny and cool day along with wafts of great smelling food filling the air made it a great time. All of the shopkeepers that we spoke with were very friendly and helpful and enjoyed the “negotiations” to arrive at the best price for everyone involved.

Ultimately, I recommend that you visit the Grand Bazaar because it is a historic part of Istanbul, but please take my word for it, and spend time wandering the streets surrounding the Bazaar. That’s where I found it to be the most enjoyable!

This is only part of a much larger trip report covering the trip to Istanbul and London. If you would like to be informed of future trip reports, please follow me on twitter: @lufthansaflyer.

Here is the current “index” of the trip report. The one’s with hyperlinks have already been completed:

Lufthansa First Class Services from Chicago to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Lounge in Frankfurt

Istanbul – Sultan Ahmed (Sultanahmet) Mosque.
Istanbul – The Basilica Cistern.
Istanbul – Spice Market and Grand Bazaar.
Istanbul – Park Hyatt Macka Palas.
Istanbul – Our Day with Ihsan (besttaxidriver.com).
Istanbul – Hagia Sophia.
Istanbul – Other Mosques and Churches.
Istanbul – I find out what Zultanite is….
Istanbul – The Food We Found.
Istanbul – Turkish Airlines’ International CIP Lounge.

London – Hyatt Andaz Liverpool Street.
London – Opening of Parliament – Great pictures of the Queen and procession to Parliament.
London – ‘The Sunshine Boys’ at the Savoy Theater (Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths)…..BRILLIANT, MUST SEE!
London – Spitalfield’s Antique Market – And the lesson I learned.
London – Churchill War Rooms and Churchill Museum.
London – Photos from around town.
London – Dinner at Petrus
London – St. James Park: Feathers and Fur
London – Covent Gardens.
London – All the other things that I can’t think of at the moment….

Pluckley – They said it was haunted……

STAR ALLIANCE Route Announcements

AIR CHINA:

Beijing-Stockholm for the winter timetable will be reduced from 6x/week to 5x/week.

ASIANA:

Busan-Ho Chi Minh effective between June 16 and October 27 will be reduced from 1x/day to 5x/WEEK.

AUSTRIAN:

Vienna-Tehran effective between June 16 and September 1 has been temporarily suspended.
Vienna-Erbil effective August 20 will increase from 5x/week to 1x/DAY.

BRUSSELS AIRLINES:

Brussels-Abidjan effective October 1 will be reduced from 1x/day to 6x/WEEK.
Brussels-Banjul effective February 1 will be reduced from 4x/week to 3x/week.
Brussels-Freetown effective February 1 will be reduced from 2x/week to 1x/week.
Brussels-Kinshasa effective October 1 will be reduced from 1x/day to 5x/WEEK.

LOT POLISH:

Effective October 28, LOT will NO LONGER operate from Newark (EWR). New York flights will all be based from Kennedy(JFK)

LUFTHANSA:

Berlin(Tegel)-London(LHR) effective October 28 will increase from 21x/week to 23x/week.
Dusseldorf-London(LHR) effective October 28 will be reduced from 35x/week to 33x/week.

SAS:

Copenhagen-Billund effective August 13 will begin 5x/day service on weekdays.

THAI:

Bangkok-Moscow(DME) effective June 26 has increased from 3x/week to 4x/week.
Bangkok–Denpasar effective October 27 will be reduced from 1x/day to 5x/WEEK.

PREVIOUS STAR ALLIANCE ROUTE ANNOUNCEMENT

Source: www.airlineroute.net

Lufthansa Launches “BLUE LEGENDS” To Reward Lufthansa Flyers Using foursquare!

Earlier this evening Lufthansa introduced a fantastic new social media application in conjunction with “foursquare” and Facebook which will allow Lufthansa “loyalists” to receive badges, coupons and promotional opportunities when they use “foursquare” to check in during their Lufthansa based travels.

For those of you not familiar with “foursquare”, they are one of the leading social media companies who’s applications allow for users to “check in” at various locations throughout their everyday lives and earn points, badges, discounts and special offers from the vendors that they frequent. Users earn points and rewards based on their activity and can share their accomplishments as well as invite others from their various “Social Media” networks such as Facebook. foursquare also allows you to provide recommendations on the places you’ve visited so that other foursquare users can benefit from your advice. To learn more about foursquare and to set up your foursquare account, please visit their website to get started. You’ll need to be a foursquare user to take advantage of “Blue Legends”. foursquare has applications available for smartphones, iPads, etc. giving you the ability to “check in” from literally anywhere in the world. A nice feature with “Blue Legends” is it’s ability to be accessed from a laptop or desktop, so you don’t have to have your mobile device with you in order to use “Blue Legends”.

Lufthansa’s partnership with “foursquare” will enable people traveling on Lufthansa flights, using Lufthansa Lounges and traveling through airports that Lufthansa serves to have fantastic opportunities to to earn points, badges and valuable coupons based on their activity.

Lufthansa has actually loaded all of their flights into the foursquare database (approx. 9,000!) so that you will be able to get credit by simply boading a flight and checking in from your seat! You will be able to earn points and badges based on what kind of seat you are in, class of travel, etc. You may even earn a badge or prize for sitting in the middle seat in the back of the plane!

Here’s an excerpt from Lufthansa’s press release that gives some examples of Blue Legend opportunities:

For example, customer’s flying across the Atlantic Ocean can
unlock the “Atlantic Badge” and users can become “Expert Pilots” on the routes they fly most frequently. Early risers who check in before 6 a.m. are awarded the “Early Bird” badge. And, anyone who racks up more than 241,092 miles with Lufthansa will receive the “To the Moon” badge. Badge by badge, regular travelers who check in most frequently to Lufthansa venues can become true “legends of the skies” with Blue Legends.

You’ll also be able to keep track of your friends that are using the “Blue Legends” app and see their Lufthansa based travel activity.

This is Lufthansa’s first major foray into “Location Based Media” which has been very popular with millions of users. I had the opportunity to see this program in a presentation by their social media team on a recent trip to Frankfurt, and I can honestly say this is a “Must Have” application if you are a Lufthansa customer. The badges, coupons and offers that are going to be made available to you are well worth your efforts to sign up for this program. Trust Me!

Signing up is easy. Simply visit the Blue Legends Website, where you’ll need your Facebook account to help you log in and set up your “Blue Legends” account. You can also use Twitter to share with your followers the accomplishments you achieve as a ‘Blue Legend’!

Once you set your account up and customize your profile, all you need to do is to use foursquare as you normally would to check in from a location and “Blue Legends” will take care of the rest. From what I have seen from the design team for “Blue Legends”, there are a lot of exciting and fun opportunities that will be made available to “Blue Legend” users so make sure you take every opportunity to make the most of it!

If you need any help navigating Blue Legends or foursquare, please let me know and I’ll be happy to walk you through it!

By the way, stay tuned for other exciting Lufthansa Social Media announcements in the coming weeks! :)

Screenshots and Badges from Blue Legends:

Become the mayor of a long-haul international flight in business class, and you’ll have your own dedicated seat complete with Mayoral appointments:

Your collection of badges will display on your device:

You’ll be able to track your friend’s Blue Legends status:

Examples of some of the many Badges you’ll be able to earn:

Earned by flying on the A380

The Lounge Badge (Intermediate badge earned for your 2nd visit)

Travel Around The World Badge

Travel with a Friend Badge

Visit Berlin to earn this badge

Travel to London earns you this badge

There will be many more surprises in store from Blue Legend members, so make sure to visit the Blue Legends Website and start becoming a Legend!