Having been fortunate enough to visit Istanbul twice over the course of the past eight months, I have officially moved it to my "one of my favourite places" list.
Istanbul has always been the place "where east meets west," the only city that I know of which straddles two different continents - Europe and Asia. Because of its strategic position, it has always held great importance to whatever civilisation was in power. It has served as the capital of four different empires: Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman.
The city is filled with various markets. From the indoor Grand Bazaar with its 61 streets and over 3000 shops, to weekly markets held in different neighborhoods, there are endless possibilities.
When I first visited Istanbul earlier in the year, I asked around at various jewellery shops about where I could purchase high quality findings, beads, etc. I was given the name of a street in the old town and told to look for one particular shop, which would guide me into a "han" or series of shops selling goodies of the same type. When I found it, as a jewellery maker, it was 7th heaven! Tiny stores, but chock-full of anything and everything you could possibly want. I didn't have much time to browse on that trip, but still came home laden with some supplies to try.