Saturday, February 16, 2013



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.

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16 comments:

Anne Mackle said...

It seems we all feel the same about that shop. We have had a few nice pieces of furniture from it including my new bookcase which I love,luckily the items have built up well with no problems and were so much cheaper than we could have bought anywhere else. I don't mind it so much if I go midweek when it's quiet with a friend and we just browse and pick up ideas, in fact I enjoy it,but when I go with my husband it's a nightmare as he hates it and marches me through the halls to get to where we want to purchase what we came for. The restaurant in our Ikea is horrible and so is the food. Glad you found your frames as I can never find the size I need, we all hate Ikea but what would we do without it ?

Umbereen said...

OMG- this post struck a chord! When we first moved to Istanbul I went to the IKEA on the European side by myself using metro bus, tram and metro! Spent 8 hours there trying to order beds and closets (since we had no furniture when we arrived)- was reduced to tears several times when no one could understand me- scraped my arms and legs multiple times while dragging things off the warehouse shelves...

For several months after the mere mention of IKEA would induce panic attacks- although since moving to Emirgan (and getting a car!) I have been a couple of times to the one on the Asian side- a mere 15 minute drive and if you get there close to 10 am it is practically empty!

Anonymous said...

Your husband is a very wise man, IKEA is torture, I only go weekdays after work if I have to go (and even for that I put it off as long as I can), and I prefer to go alone so I can just rush in, get what I need, and leave again. (I hate shopping in general though, unless for good food and books, so I am not really representative, I guess...) I have discovered that IKEA offers online shopping in many places so that's what I will use next time I need something bigger. Here in Germany online shopping means they deliver in to the flat, which means I also don't need to carry up the stairs - bliss!
Glad that IKEA is easily accessible here though, 15 minutes on the local train and 2 minutes walk. At least I CAN go after work, would I need to.
Ann-Katrin

Anonymous said...

OH, by the way: The "IKEA is a family affair" attitude: Very common also elsewhere, I see it here in Germany, in Sweden and elsewhere, drag the whole family with you and stroll around slowly through every department. I have NO, and I mean NO patience for that...

Backto Bodrum said...

As our Ikea is 3 hours away by car, I shop online. I have to admit I am impressed with their delivery service.

Alyson Tart said...

And don't go with your husband! Paul was so miserable after going, we never made it back. We got lost after the metro and ended up taking a taxi who ripped us off to get there. At that point, we were already ready to get it over with, before even entering the shop :)

Joy said...

@Anne, yes it'd definitely a love-hate relationship! Well, maybe not even a love. I have found Tepehome in Istanbul often to have better prices than IKEA esp. when there is a sale!

@Umbereen, oh, poor you! I can only imagine what that was like when you first got here! I can see how getting a car would totally help. Now, if only I could've figured out a way to bribe my husband so he would drive there! :-)

Joy said...

@BacktoBodrum, I'm surprised to hear your delivery shows up! We've had the worst luck with getting things delivered here or mail so we've just given up.

@Alyson Tart, Paul sounds like my husband! When I went the first time, I had to pick everything out so when my husband came all he had to do was be the mule and pay for the items! :-)

Manya said...

I feel the same way about IKEA in the States. For the few items I might buy there, I prefer Target or Kohl's. It's sheer torture to wind your way through the maze, dodging families with small kids, although I can understand why they shop there. Have often wondered what IKEA would be like in Russia, China or Turkey - now I realize: it's pretty much the same experience the world over :)

Liz Cameron said...

LOL - your conclusions are spot on and had me LOLing!

I have to say that my husband says that going to IKEA is his personal idea of hell as well - in Ist or in the US!

But at least you got away with a kilo of those amazing meatballs!

Sara Louise said...

1. The largest Ikea in Europe is just north of Avignon
2. I have never been to the largest Ikea in Europe even though it is very close
3. The reason I haven't been to it... I have never been to an Ikea. EVER!

Joy said...

@Manya, Oh, I so do miss having Target and Kohl's sometimes! And yes pretty much same experience everywhere it seems. Sigh!

@Liz, thanks for reading! Maybe IKEA should build a husband's area (bar) at the front of the store where wives can drop off them off while they shop?

@Sara, well, you're not missing much! I certainly wouldn't go if I didn't really need something. :-)

Erica (Irene) said...

I don't like to shop at Ikea.....here in Toronto I have 5 of them all within 10 to 30 minutes from my house. No matter what time or when you go it is packed. My husband just likes to go for the coffee and cinnamon bun they serve there.

Deniz Bevan said...

I love IKEA but my husband feels the same way, so last time we ordered what we needed online... I'd like to try the one in Istanbul on my next visit!

Joy said...

@Deniz, I think most husbands dislike any kind of shopping! ;-) Double check when you come here as the one in Umraniye might be closer for you to get to.

Anonymous said...

I,m very happy with Ikea online