I came, I saw, I SHOPPED

Whenever you go to a new(ish?) city, state, or country…there are many new things to try!  Food, culture, language, or maybe just slang; there are many new things to explore.  But, by far, one of the most important things is

SHOPPING

You know what I’m saying!  For example, when I moved from South Carolina to Florida, I was able to shop at Forever 21 for the first time (even though that store is now around in my home state, it wasn’t as prevalent at the time).  While a new mall and shops from state to state are exciting,I had never seen anything quite as different as experiencing the shopping style in Turkey.

For instance, apparently those shouts coming from the street weren’t fights or greetings, but people selling things.  From fish to oranges, carpets to sheets, cleaning products to dishes, the street merchants have it all.  If you are at all familiar with Turkey, you know how certain merchants tend to specialize…and the same is true for your neighborhood satıcılar.  You really have no need to run down the street to your local BiM or migros for that one thing you forgot to pick up.  They’ll make their rounds to your door eventually.

Oh, but when you do go out…there’s the

PAZAR

Not all pazars are created equal, and not all sell the same things.  let me tell you about the three kinds of pazars I have experienced so far.  For all of these pazars, one overlying rule applies: count your change ;).

Food pazar

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Usually it is a lot more crowded, I took this picture on the “off day”

If not the most important pazar, it is one of my favorites.  While shopping for a purse or shoes is fun, shopping for food is the best…because it’s FOOD! You get to eat it!  And shopping for food in Turkey can be an adventure.  While grocery stores do exist and are completely doable, you are missing out on half the fun if you skip the food pazar.

Marked by bustling crowds and shouting vendors, the food pazar is a wall to wall produce extravaganza (usually in an open air square)!  Along with the ubiquitous fruits and vegetables, you can also find brined olives, fresh made/aged cheeses, a plethora of nuts and snacks, and sometimes breads and yufka.  The best part of the pazar is that the prices are lower, and you get to taste EVERYTHING before you buy it.  This is a lot like a farmer’s market in the US, only huge. and awesome.

Clothes and trinkets pazar

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Unlike the US, Turkey does not have the same laws (or if they do, they aren’t enforced), regarding knock offs.  This pazar is your one stop shop for just about anything…sweaters, jeans, sweatpants, purses, shoes, costume jewelry (don’t listen if they say it’s real- it probably isn’t), dishes, plungers, needle and thread, the list goes on and on.  What differentiates this pazar from the last on the list is that everything is new.

The biggest benefit (besides the already low prices) of this pazar, is that you are able (and expected) to haggle. These sweatpants are 15TL? How about I buy 2 for 27TL?  This may not seem like a big sale, but after your massive shopping haul, it adds up.  However, because they are knock offs…don’t get upset when you find yourself repairing seams in a month or two.  Its the price you pay (or rather, didn’t pay).  You can find some nice, quality clothes…but look closely. Also, don’t kid yourself. Everything is a knock off. Everything!

Bit pazar

The flea market of Turkey, the bit pazar has all your random needs.  Need the guts of a 1960s radio? I got you.  Missing a shoe? It’s here.  Lost your king from a chess set? We can work it out.   I have no pictures of this one (sorry), because…to be honest…ours is skeeeeetccchhyyyyy! I was not about to pull my camera out to take a photo. Guard your purse and don’t buy clothes- they might have fleas. Everything here is used.  Gently or otherwise.  But for your bizarre odds and ends, this is the first place to go.

Where are your favorite places to shop (US, Turkey, or other?), and what is your favorite thing about it?

 

A Visit From a Friend

A friend from America came to visit me!

Well, that sounds rather dramatic- doesn’t it?  Actually, she had moved to Turkey just short of a month before we did- in search of a job.  Her parents being from Turkey, she has the great advantage of already speaking Turkish fairly well.

Anyway, that’s her back story to tell.

It was so nice having a fellow American in the house for a few days! We had a great time visiting the beach, shopping at the boardwalk, and exploring the Pazar!

boardwalk

However, this visit did make me realize that I need to work harder on my Turkish.  While I thought I was getting better- she mowed me down with her amazing grasp of Turkish language, grammar, and cultural expressions (mashallah).  Although she insistently told me that my Turkish is getting pretty good, I can’t help but feel like I am so far behind.  I know I can do better, but I guess it’s something that takes time.  We’ve only been here for a few weeks- after all.

I prepared many delicious foods with Anne while our guest was here, and I will be sharing a few recipes with you shortly!

Buying scarves

A problem that I sometimes have, and I know ya’ll have had before, is finding the right scarf.  Personally, I stay far, far away from polyester and other synthetic fibers because they don’t breathe well for me.  Limiting myself to rayon, viscose, and cotton can sometimes make scarf shopping difficult.  If you are in the US, here are a few shops that you MUST visit when looking for a scarf.

1. Charming Charlie

Don’t be fooled by the website, this store has a great selection of scarves! At my local store (just opened) they have a full palette of slightly shiny solid color scarves made of viscose with tassels.  I love these scarves, althought I’ve only limited myself to purchasing one at the moment (ice blue, fantastic!).  They also carry an assortment of patterns in other materials, but these soft and light viscose scarves have me hooked.  I will certainly be back for more!  When I visited Charming Charlie it was during the Thanksgiving Weekend, so I’m not sure if the scarves were on markdown, but they were 10$ a piece, very fair price.

2. Burlington Coat Factory

The downside of resale stores is that the inventory is always changing. But isn’t that also a plus?  For cheaper than department and specialty stores (Around 7.99$ or less), you can find a plethora of scarves depending on the season, all in different colors, patterns, and materials.  This can vary by store, so if you are willing to make a day of it, you may find it worth your while to visit more than one!

3. Ross

Similar to Burlington Coat Factory, Ross is a resale store with ever-changing merchandise and competitively low prices.  I usually come across polyester scarves here, but on some occasions I have run across a lovely piece! I purchased one of my favorite scarves, a french vanilla rectangular scarf with tassels, from Ross.

4. Platos Closet

If you don’t have a Platos Closet in your area…it is definitely worth the drive.  Platos Closet is a brand-name thrift store with gently used clothes, shoes, and accessories.  If you have a problem wearing hand-me-downs, this is not the store for you…But when I began to wear hijab I bought half of my scarves from Platos Closet with bargain basement prices ($3.99-$5.99).  Again, the merchandise changes, but the prices of this store cannot be beat.  When it comes to purchasing clothes such as jeans, dresses, tops, jackets… this is where almost everything I own comes from.  You seriously need to make the trip to a Platos Closet when you are on a shopping frenzy- you can stock your entire wardrobe on under 100$ if you hunt for bargains.

#hijabiproblems