Video: 195 Seconds at Ljubljana’s Christmas Market

Ljubljana’s December holiday carnival has been on the receiving end of growing attention in travel and holiday circles, and for good reason. The light display is phenomenal, fanning out in all directions from the Slovenian capital’s historical city center, connecting a network of gift stands, food stalls and mulled wine stands.

Service with a smile, always.

Service with a smile, always.

It’s a popular time for locals who meet up for get-togethers throughout the month, but others are coming, too. On weekends there’s nearly as much Italian and English heard in the streets as there is Slovenian. German, Japanese and Chinese is not too uncommon.

In all 64 kilometers of light sculptures are strung around the old town center for which the city shelled out €166,000, or $228,000. Live music will be featured in five squares throughout the month while the lights and stands will remain through New Year’s day.

Here’s a quick video –195 seconds quick to be exact—of shots collected over the past few days to give you the general idea. It’s a bit on the dark side, for which I apologize; it’s also heavy on sausages, for which I do not.

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Lunch Rush at the Central Market in Sucre (Pic du Jour)

Mercado Central lunch rush. Sucre, Bolivia, 08-Apr-2013

Mercado Central lunch rush. Sucre, Bolivia, 08-Apr-2013

Here are a few shots from the food court in Sucre’s Central Market, my favorite lunch spot in the city. At top is a quick snap of this afternoon’s lunch rush.

After spending more than two months with the hefty prices in both Argentina and Chile, Bolivia’s kindness on the wallet is much appreciated. Saturday’s two-course lunch, below –a hearty chicken soup and the heaping entree– set me back 10 Bolivianos, or USD 1.44 / EUR 1.11.



Today I splurged and went for the trout, at 18 Bolivianos, or USD 2.60 / EUR 1.99.

Sucre 008

Looking forward to tomorrow’s offerings. :) A few more shots.

Sucre 007

Mercado Central, Sucre, Bolivia, 08-Apr-2013

Mercado Central, Sucre, Bolivia, 08-Apr-2013

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At the Mercado Central, Santiago, 19-Mar-2013

20 Minutes in Santiago’s Mercado Central

At the Mercado Central, Santiago, 19-Mar-2013

At the Mercado Central, Santiago, 19-Mar-2013

the WordPress Photo Challenge for the week is ‘Future Tense’, asking us to catch a glimpse of the proverbial shape of things to come. When I watched this gentleman weighing some fish for a customer at the Mercado Central, or Central Market, in Santiago last week, I was only thinking about what a stupendous meal some fortunate souls were about to have.

While it’s known simply as the Mercado Central, it serves primarily as a fish market. Id’ guess that upwards of eighty percent of the items on offer were fish or seafood, along with dozens of small restaurants that served up fish and seafood. Built in 1872, its most interesting feature is its roof design which consists of a central pyramid crowned by a domed tower.

This is very much a working market, and it’s busy, so don’t be put off by the lively aromas and wet floors. Bill Clinton visited here in 1998 and it didn’t bother him.

Bill Clinton's visit to the Mercado Central in Santiago, immortalized.

Bill Clinton’s visit to the Mercado Central in Santiago, immortalized.

Its website (Spanish only) is here.  A few more snaps below.

At the Mercado Central, Santiago, 19-Mar-2013

At the Mercado Central, Santiago, 19-Mar-2013

At the Mercado Central, Santiago, 19-Mar-2013

At the Mercado Central, Santiago, 19-Mar-2013

Sea urchins at the Mercado Central, Santiago, 19-Mar-2013

Sea urchins at the Mercado Central, Santiago, 19-Mar-2013

At the Mercado Central, Santiago, 19-Mar-2013

At the Mercado Central, Santiago, 19-Mar-2013

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A Dog at the Market

You can now cross Boiled Dog in a Nanning Market off your list of things to see before you die.

I’ve posted this pic a couple times before but it’s the first one to come to mind when Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack asked visitors to share some market pics in her latest challenge.

More about that October 2010 market visit –along with a dog and cat consumption in China update– is here. It was also the Gadling Photo of the Day for 18-Oct-2010.

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30 Minutes in Istanbul’s Spice Market

Love Tea

The Love Tea immediately caught my eye. Can’t hurt, right? Unfortunately the 250g I bought was left in a bag in my hotel room. And so it goes. I can only hope the next occupant made use of it as it was meant to be used.

This, and the pics below, were taken last week at the Egyptian Bazaar in Istanbul, popularly and more simply known as the Spice Market. It’s a massive L-shaped arcade-style building with 88 rooms located near the waterfront on the Golden Horn, in the shadow of the ‘New Mosque‘ on Eminönü Square.

Like the Grand Bazaar, which I didn’t particularly care for (more on that another time), the Spice Market is quite the tourist attraction as well, but it’s also a place where  plenty of locals shop. “More than half,” one shopkeeper told me. From the sounds of the non-stop lively commerce, I had no reason to doubt him.

Obviously, piles and piles of colorful spices abound. The colors are blindingly delicious, the scents delectably delightful. But there’s plenty more besides tea and spice.  Like shoes, unfortunately.

And LOTS of sugar, too. About half the shops in the Bazaar sell sweets, primarily a countless variety of Turkish Delight, or Lokum. These items aren’t as ‘gourmet’ as they appear – they’re mainly flavored jelly and cornstarch. But they’re good. The huge blocks are nuts glued together with a sweet gel.

And if it’s not spicy or sweet, it’s nutty or fruity. None of it is particularly cheap, by the way. Prices for various nuts, dried fruit and figs, for example, were on par with prices here in Slovenia or in markets I’ve visited in various cities in France, Italy or Spain.

But just as interesting to me was what was outside, mainly the handful of stalls with a nice variety and selection of fresh fish. But to get to them you first have to walk past a stalls where you could buy a machine to roll grape leaves…

.. and this display case full of hooves.

I had seafood in Istanbul six of the eight nights I was there, and couldn’t get enough. It’s reason enough to return.

Shopping tips? Just a few:

  • Taste and smell before you buy
  • Look for shops and stalls who clearly specialize in something
  • Go where the locals go
  • Avoid buying cheesy souvenirs here, and
  • Don’t leave your Love Tea behind.

By the way, I didn’t feel like fumbling around with my SLR, so these were all shot on my Sony HDR CX350VE video cam.


Last week I came across the travel blog Budget Travelers Sandbox which hosts Travel Photo Thursday (#TPThursday on twitter), and am delighted to join in this week. When you have few minutes to browse, check out host Nancie’s photos and those of others who take part. You’ll see some great photos and visit some wonderful places. The link to this week’s post and links is here.

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Previous Istanbul posts:

- 45 Second Cheap Hotel Advisor – Istanbul
- 60 seconds with the Bird Seed Sellers of Istanbul
- The Dandy Dozen – My 12 Favorite Mannequins in Istanbul
- 40+ Creative Commons Licensed Images of Istanbul now Available
- 1 min w/ skull & bones on Galip dede Caddesi, Istanbul
- Hotel Pic of the Day – Sheraton Atakoy Istanbul
- Light in Babylon – Istanbul Street Music Quickie
- Small Collection of Blocked Websites in Turkey

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Doha’s Souq Waqif, a quick stop

Here’s another brief bit from Doha, a few scenes shot from the hip at the Souq Waqif last weekend.

It’s a lively place in the mornings and evenings – particularly the latter – where locals and visitors come to shop, browse, and socialize. It’s undergone an immense transformation over the past few years, redeveloped in an attempt to keep some of its authentic charm – there’s been a souq here for centuries – but adding a bit of upscale panache to match the transformation of Doha as a whole. Those sorts of reinventions generally don’t work, but it does here, remarkably well. Said our taxi driver, an immigrant from India who’s been in Doha for five years: “It used to be for everyone. Now it’s only for rich people.”

Maybe so, but it certainly beats the monstrous malls recently built in Doha, and is an must-visit if you’re spending more than a day in town. I’ve been here three times in the past 15 months, and it’s a joy to explore. Virtually anything can be found there, from local traditional garb and beautiful embroideries and perfumes, to food, spices, musical instruments, and pre-colonial antiques. Look for the pink dyed rabbits in the pet shop alleyways and be sure to find the falcon market. The shop and stall keepers are laid back, not in the least bit pushy, and do accept and expect some bargaining.

There are also several very good options for a meal that won’t break the bank, generally from $8-15 for a main dish. Or simply hang out with a coffee or some tea, enjoy an apple or grape shisha and watch time pleasantly pass by. Don’t waste your looking for anything stiffer than a Red Bull because you won’t find it. And don’t come in the afternoon because most of it’s closed.

Some useful links: [Qatar Visitor] [wiki] [Lonely Planet]

The song in the video is You never know where you`ll wake up by _ghost / CC BY-NC 2.5

45 Minutes in Sapa’s Central Market

Here are a few snaps from the central market in Sapa, Vietnam’s gateway to the northern highlands. Markets are always a joy to explore; this one had some of the most marvelous aromas I’ve ever had the pleasure to inhale. Also some of the most putrid.

Some of the finest came from the humble food court where I also had lunch.

The streets, alleyways and squares are teeming with women from local hill tribes selling their wares. Below are a couple on their lunch break. These two are H’mong I believe.

There were women gossiping.

There were women snoozing.

Some were dreaming. (Or, more likely, just hoping that I would move on.)

This one was reading a photocopied version of the day’s newspaper and wasn’t very pleased with what she read.

And some of course were shopping.

And finally, another shot from the meat department.

Twenty Minutes in a Pair of Nanning Markets

These are a few shots from quick stops at two street markets in Nanning last Thursday. Our tour guides/chaperones/handlers, assigned to us by the foreign ministry’s provincial office, didn’t want to stop here, but we were fairly insistent, so they gave in. The pic at the top shows a freshly-boiled dog. So is the one below, which looks more like a mythical beast than a mid-sized pooch.

“Do you find this interesting?” Edward, my shadow for five days, asked.

“Yes, very,” I reassured him.

From what I’ve gathered, dog is eaten in southwestern China (along with northern Vietnam) but isn’t found on most restaurant menus or corner fast food stalls. After assessing our collective reaction, Edward reassured us that dog is only eaten on rare occasions.

“We don’t eat very many dogs,” he said. “We are still a developing country.” I wish I had 10 yuan for every time he used that line.

In January Xinhua reported that legislation banning the eating of dogs (and cats) is being considered. According the China Daily, those convicted of eating dog could be sentenced to 15 days in jail if the ban is enacted.

Here are some freshly slaughtered chickens. No extra charge for the eggs.

Onwards to the fish department. I don’t know what kind of fish these were, but I did enjoy some fabulous seafood creations in Nanning last weekend.

I can’t remember the names of these mushrooms, but the ones on the left were absolutely exquisite.

Onwards to market No. 2, which mostly featured live animals –for pets, not food. Squirming in the boxes below are some worms and maggoty-looking critters which are sold as food for birds.

And finally, some turtles. There were an amazing number in various stalls, in an assortment of sizes and colors. China has nearly 1500 registered turtle farms, bringing in an estimated $800 million annually. They’re raised as delicacies for upscale restaurants, ingredients for herbal medicines, and as pets.

“People in China like and respect turtles very much,” Edward said. “We’d all like to live long lives like turtles.”