After a few years of living in a place, you tend to avoid the touristy areas. My one exception is the antique market in the Kapalıçarsı (Covered Bazaar). This place never fails to entertain me. My wife and I like to pay regular visits to the bazaar simply to soak up the feel. It’s truly a city within a city. There’s an incredible mixture of stuff, from the kitsch and cheap, to the truly antique and interesting — from pocket watches, naval instruments, old film cameras, illuminated pages, and semi precious stones. Whenever I visit the covered market something interesting happens. I might see something take place, I might find something I never knew existed, there’s always a moment worth having, even if all I do is drink a cup of Turkish coffee.
And within this city within a city, the antique market is the most interesting neighborhood. It’s not just the narrow stalls, brimming over with small glittery objects and artifacts, it’s the independent feel of the building itself, which has separate green gated entrances and a different, high vaulted brick roof. Other bits of the Kapalıçarsı can at times seem to have gone a bit tatty or nonsensical, with their LCD screens bolted above the main streets, but this area has its magic. It’s darker and more intimate. The small stalls sometimes open up into larger back rooms. There’s the signage in all sorts of different languages — Turkish, Ottoman, English, Russian. The multilingual store owners and their staff will always try to guess your origin and mother tongue. I almost never buy anything, yet they never stop trying. It’s part of the fun of not being a tourist. You don’t feel obligated anymore.