Love Tea
Love Tea

30 Minutes in Istanbul’s Spice Market

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.

Istanbul 079

 

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.

 

 

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