Souvenir Hunting in Istanbul (not Constantinople)

Turkey.jpgYou know what they say, the first step is admitting that you have a problem. OK, I admit it. I love souvenir hunting.  Yes, it’s a really “touristy” thing to do but I just can’t help myself.

I like finding that perfect item to bring home for family and friends.  I look forward to every trip anticipating the scavenger hunt for the things that I’ll bring home. I often have an idea of what kinds of items I would like to return with even before I leave, and once I get there I set out to find them.

When we travelled to Istanbul, I was really excited - partly because of the rich history of the city, which spans the rise and fall of the world's most famous empires, and partly because of the treasures I hoped to find.

Upon arriving in Istanbul we set off for the Grand Bazaar. I had visions of drinking Turkish coffee, looking at beautiful hand-made rugs and bringing both of those things home with us. Two things became obvious to us rather quickly.

First - The all of the rugs were BEAUTIFUL - big ones, small ones, intricately designed, soft to the touch - but seriously out of our price range.  
Second - Turkish coffee is very strong - think “concentrated espresso”.  If you like strong coffee, then Turkey is the place for you.  

Not surprisingly, we have lots of family and friends who are avid coffee drinkers, so it’s the perfect souvenir, right?  Sure it is. So there’s only one problem, where do you buy Turkish coffee?  No one had it for sale anywhere, unless you wanted it prepared.

After searching the entire market, we finally broke down and asked one of the people selling the coffee, where we could buy some to bring home.  He just laughed.   That’s when we learned one more thing.  “We get our beans from Columbia.”

Third - Turkish coffee is all about how you brew it, and not where you get it from.  

Sadly on this trip, family and friends had to settle for a postcard.

Post Script
Here's a very brief overview of the naming of the city, just in case you were looking for a little more history.

Istanbul became a city in 7th century BC, when Greek colonists arrived, calling it Byzantium. In 330AD, Constantine declared the city as the capital of the Roman Empire and renamed it Constantinople. It wasn't until the Ottoman empire conquered Constantinople in 1453 that its name was finally changed to Istanbul.

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