(left) A necklace with Persian coins – from the Grand Bazaar, (right) a bracelet I got from the Galata Tower
I’m back from my long vacation and bringing you a special edition of the weekly shopping picks with items from Turkey. I don’t usually buy touristy trinkets, but instead try to get things that the country is known for or those that have cultural significance. Food is also high on my list of things to bring back! In addition to the jewelry above, here are some of my favorite things that I either brought back with me or enjoyed while I was there:
Used for centuries in Turkish hammams (baths), peshtamals are 100% cotton towels that have recently been gaining fans in the Western world. They’re fast drying and super absorbent. I’m happy with the colors I got – grey seemed to be a big hit for peshtamal colors. See what Gilt Home has to say about these types of towels in The Un-Towel.
In Eastern cultures, a nazar, or evil eye, is a very strong belief that looking at someone the wrong way can cause the person harm. Here in the West we might call it a look of envy or giving off negative energy. Turks use a nazar boncuk to ward off this negative energy – it’s an eye looking right back at the person trying to cast the evil eye. Since it’s a big part of the culture it’s a fun little souvenir to bring back. I got the one on the right, which has my favorite prayer from the Quran written on it (Ayat-ul-Kursi). I found it at a wholesale evil eye store on a street close to the Grand Bazaar. The prices at the store were great compared to those found at touristy areas. Some other fun places I saw the nazar boncuk:
- on the tail of a plane (definitely don’t want the plane to get nazar!)
- on a tea-cup (seen above)
- in a garden, made out of different colored flowers
- hanging on the outside of many houses
clockwise from top: assorted olives, honeycomb, turkish delights
Ever since I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a kid, I’ve wanted to try Turkish Delight. After all, it was the one thing that Edmund wished to eat after the White Witch offered him the chance to eat anything in the world! In Turkey I sampled so much Turkish Delight of all different colors, shapes and sizes that I’ll be fine if I don’t ever eat one again. They’re for sale in most bakeries or souvenir stores. The Grand Bazaar has stores that sell heaps and heaps of them. They make a great gift to bring back as they tend to stay fresh for one month.
Turkey is also known for its honey and honey comb. It’s usually served at breakfast, mixed with cream. You can dip your bread into the mixture – delicious! Be mindful of your country’s customs laws when bringing in food. The U.S. allows you to bring in both honey and honeycomb as well as most other food items meant for personal use and gifts (reference).
Have you been to Turkey? What were your favorite shopping picks?