Tag Archives: Beyoglu

Lessons From Shopping at an Istanbul Mall

We spent our first week in Istanbul soaking up our immediate neighborhood. Beyoglu is sometimes referred to as the Soho of Istanbul. It’s the perfect base to explore tiny cafes, drink international wines or local raki, listen to live music and watch independent theater. Living hear reminds us a lot of living in New York’s East Village.

Sandeep needed to do some research on a few home furnishing stores so we decided to combine work and hopefully find some pleasure by breaking away from our area and exploring Istanbul’s most prestigious suburban mall, Istinye Park. We were heading well out of our comfort zone – we are not suburb people and we are not mall people.

Istinyi Park is a great way to observe how Istanbullu families spend their weekends. In a contrast to what we’ve seen in the city, fancy strollers harboring well dressed tots parade around the hallways. The mall has a large rotunda by the food court that is perfect for kids to burn of energy. The enterprising mall management has centered children’s toy and clothing shops, as well as a mesmerizing fountain, around it. As the kids engaged in an instant play date, we enjoyed coffee and caught up on the newest toys and gadgets, including these spiffy kiddie cars.

The mall is more upmarket than any I have been to in The States. It also required us to open our wallets wider. Sandeep and the kids started drooling at the thought of southern fried chicken, so we paid 14 Lira ($8) for a three piece meal. They’d say it was worth every penny and I had to pry the cleaned chicken leg bone out of Kayan’s grasp. In addition to the bill, the kofta place sandwiched between the American fast food joints was our only reminder that we were in Istanbul and not a ritzy suburb back home.

I passed on the chicken fest but found my happy place in the mall’s vast food bazaar, with vendors specializing in everything from specialty vegetables to sugar covered almonds in every color.

What did we learn during our day at the mall? Istanbul has a laid back side and a luxury side. The mall had stand alone multi-story buildings for brands Gucci and Louis Vuitton that were bigger than their 5th Avenue flagships. We also learnt that we have been out of touch with what’s new in popular culture. We didn’t recognize  any of the new English movies or children’s toys. And our outfits, reflecting what we packed five months ago in New York, were definitely not up to par with Istanbul style.

The luxury of spending time in a city is that we can explore its different faces. We’re loving Beyoglu, which provides many of the comforts of home with a decidedly Turkish flair, but we’ve also been able to glimpse the suburban life, which on the surface took us back to America.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Turkey

Window Shopping for Carrots in Istanbul

We’re loving Istanbul. It has everything we love about a city. Architectural soul and history? Check. Coffee houses, restaurants and food choices galore? Check. Open and plentiful public spaces? Check. Good public transportation? Check. Galleries, boutiques and street art? Check.

We just got here and our explorations have barely started. Our first order of business after settling into a new place is figuring out groceries. Ava and Kayan can’t go more than a few hours without needing a yogurt or cereal fix. Luckily for us, the Turks put yogurt on nearly everything. Also luckily for us, there are three corner stores in a one block radius that sell household staples, which in Turkey includes a variety of freshly squeezed juices, nuts, olives and cheeses.

On our first day here, as we were sipping wine (also plentiful in Turkey) on our balcony, we noticed our neighbors lowering wicker baskets from their windows and balconies into the streets. Our confusion was answered when a pick-up truck filled with produce slowed to a stop on our corner. We witnessed the street’s evening ritual. The veggie guy stops by every day at six, the women send down their baskets with money, yell down their order, and the vendor places the goods and change into the basket to be hauled back up. Now that lends a whole new meaning to window shopping.

We don’t have our own basket and pulley (yet!) so I had to run down for our fruits and veggies. The next afternoon a similar ritual happened for the lentil and rice vendor. This time Sandeep went down to collect our rice.

We’ve shopped for vegetables in Thai markets. We’ve picked them off our backyard in Goa. We’ve even bought fruit off a boat in Myanmar. However, we have yet to make a produce purchase on a pulley. Yet another wonderful thing about travel – it has the potential of making an onion purchase exciting.


Filed under Food, Turkey