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.
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.
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This time through, I had an opportunity to spend several hours in the jewellery findings stores. Wandering for one tiny shop to the next, I picked up everything from handfulls of spacer beads to carefully chosen, unique clasps.
I have to wonder if there is some way to write off any future trips to Istanbul as business expenses :), given the amazing discounts that I'm able to secure! I see another trip in my future once I finish off with this visit's hoard.