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Istanbul

istanbul grand bazaarIstanbul's Grand Bazaar is an amazing scene, dating back to the 15th century. There are more than 4,000 stores sprawling across 60 streets, selling a breathtaking array of wares, from spices to furs, and from leather to rugs. There are even two mosques wrapped into this vast, sprawling mercantile temple.

Shoppers who've "done" the Grand Bazaar and want to see where the locals hang out should head over to Beyoglu, the Istanbul equivalent of New York's Fifth and Madison Avenues; it's full of fashionable boutiques and cafes.

For traditionalists, the best souvenir (and the one you'll be most encouraged to buy by the locals) is a Turkish rug. But Turkey also has a number of internationally regarded craftspeople in the art of contemporary ceramics.

A word of warning: In Istanbul's bazaars and also in many tourist-oriented shops, sellers can be quite brazen and annoyingly persistent. When shopping for rugs, know that it's customary for the seller to offer shoppers a cup of tea. It's considered good manners to accept, particularly if you are genuinely shopping (as opposed to browsing casually).
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