AKA: How to get to the IKEA on the European side
My husband says that going to IKEA is his personal idea of hell.
It’s an overcrowded, maddening shopping experience.
In Istanbul, Turks often visit IKEA as a whole family. So if you only need a few things, you must maneuver past two or three children, mom and dad plus grandmother and maybe even a grandfather as well as an aunt or two.
I’m not joking! I’ve been to IKEA several times here and am amazed how Turks turn a shopping trip to an all-day family affair with a leisurely stop at the café followed by a requisite purchase of a hot dog after paying for unnecessary household items. I don’t view shopping at IKEA as fun but merely out of a cruel necessity.
I recently went to IKEA at Forum with a friend since my husband wouldn’t go. To be fair, he went twice when we moved here in 2010 and needed a large dolap and light fixtures.
I had been looking all over this gigantic city for simple picture frames, but everywhere I went I found gilded gold, glitzy silver or tacky plastic frames made in China. All I wanted was simple modern, wood frames for a couple of 5x7 photos. Was that too much to ask for? This is when I really missed having a Target or Kohl’s nearby.
Apparently, IKEA and Euro Flora are your two best options in Istanbul for plain picture frames. Or you can get them handmade by one of the small frame shops that are located in practically every neighborhood.
After my long shopping experience, I’d recommend going to IKEA with a friend that has a car. I took the tramway from Kabataş and then the metro from Aksaray and it took 90 minutes just to get there.
On the tram, you must exit at the Yusufpaşa stop. Then, you walk 10 minutes, following the crowd of people, heading to the Aksaray metro station. Why aren’t the two stations interconnected in a closer proximity? This makes no sense.
Before you exit the tram at Yusufpaşa, you’ll also hear the recording in Turkish and English announce that you can transfer here to get to the Ataturk Airport. DON’T DO IT! Instead, take the tram all the way to Zeytinburnu and then transfer to the M1 metro there if you are going to the airport.
Once you’re on the metro at Aksaray, take it five stops and exit at the Kartaltepe (Kocatepe) stop. From the Kocatepe metro station, there is a walkway which leads directly to the Forum Istanbul Mall. Then, you must wander all the way through the mall to get to the IKEA which is on the other side.
Are you still with me?
If I had known getting picture frames was this difficult, I might have waited until I traveled to the U.S. again and went to Target to buy them.
By the time, my friend and I arrived at IKEA, we were hungry for lunch. We each ordered the traditional IKEA Swedish meatballs. Tacky? Yes, but so delicious too. The meatballs tasted just like the ones I’ve eaten in New Jersey when I lived in NYC.
Finally, we were ready to shop.
The funny thing is you must wander through every department - kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room, etc. - before you arrive at the decorating and accessory department where the picture frames are located. Of course, this means you are likely to buy other items that you don’t really need, which is exactly what I did.
At the end, I purchased my six, plain, black picture frames I had been looking for all over Istanbul plus light bulbs, plastic organizing containers, odds/ends and a kilo of Swedish meatballs.
After my shopping experience at IKEA, I learned two valuable lessons:
1. Go first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds and traffic.
2. Go with a friend who drives a car.