Spice Bazaar and The Grand Bazaar

Things have been so hectic here that I haven’t had time to blog in the past two weeks. I already broke my promise of a post per week. DARN!

Day 1: The Spice Bazaar

Anyway, two weekends ago I went to the Spice Bazaar with my friends Hanane (from Norway, but her family is Moroccan), Aida (from Bosnia), Muhammed (from Pakistan) and Omer (also from Pakistan). On Friday morning we all went to Karaköy to get our student travel cards. These cards are just like the metro/bus/tram/funicular cards that anyone can get, but give you a discounted fare each time you ride. The first trip is 1TL (about 50cents), the second is 45 kuruş and the third (if you need that many transfers) is 30 kuruş. Kuruş are like cents. I believe normal fare is about 2TL per ride without a discount. The line to get a travel card was extremely long, but Hanane and Aida grabbed me a number early because they went two hours before my group left. This was SUPER nice because I only had to wait about an hour rather than 3 hrs. After getting our cards, the group of us decided to walk across the Galata Bridge to Eminönü where the Spice Bazaar is located. Since there were several practicing Muslims in the group, our first mission was to find a mosque for prayer. The mosques here are beautiful and most allow tourists to visit if they cover their heads, shoulders and legs. After prayer time, we were hungry and decided to ask around to see if any of the restaurants served mantı (the turkish raviloli that I had the week before). People kept referring us to a specific restaurant, but the street signs are so bad that we had a lot of trouble finding it. We wandered around the shops outside the spice bazaar and asked various people for directions. Aida has taken Turkish language class for 2 years so she can carry a conversation very well and help translate for us. After finding the restaurant, we learned that mantı is only served on a certain day of the week. Oh well. The food was delicious like always and very reasonable.

After lunch we headed toward the main building of the Spice Bazaar. This was my favorite part of the day by far! The inside of the bazaar has stall after stall of spices, Turkish delight and other sweets. The spices are mainly labeled in Turkish, but many of the shopkeepers speak English since it is a super touristy destination. You can always ask to smell what you are interested in to make sure you are getting the correct spice. Prices for most spices are between 20 and 40 TL per kilogram (2.2 lbs). Since all spices are lightweight this is really cheap. I paid 4TL for cinnamon, cumin, and red pepper. Before I return home, I plan on visiting the bazaar again to pick up some spices to use in my cooking at home. After a fun day of shopping we decided to find dinner and then head back to school so the Pakistanis could go to the International Student Society Beach Party. (Since I am a big partier, *insert laugh here*,  I skipped the party and went to bed Smile  SLEEP >>PARTY

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The inside garden of a mosque where we waited while Hanane prayed.

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The view across the Golden Horn from near the Galata Bridge.

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Hanane, Aida, me, Muhammed, and Omer

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The northern side of the Golden Horn.

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A really beautiful mosque in Eminönü

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Another group picture.

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The area outside and around the Spice Bazaar is filled with seed shops. They have huge bags of seeds for sale by the kilo.

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Since seeds and bulbs don’t really smell, you need to have a really good dictionary or speak Turkish to know what you’re getting here.

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You can also buy leeches for whatever your pleasure is.

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My second Turkish coffee of the trip. It is served with water because it is so strong and unfiltered. It’s delicious with a medium amount of sugar added. When you order you have to specify how much sugar you want because it is added part way through the brewing process.

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More spices, and dried fruit outside the Spice bazaar. The brown things hanging from the roof are dried hollow eggplants used to make dolma.

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Some type of dessert. I haven’t tried this one yet, but knowing my sweet tooth, I know that I would like it : )

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How spices are displayed at the Spice Bazaar. It smells fantastic as soon as you walk in!

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Beautiful pottery at the spice bazaar. This style can be found in any touristy place. I am creating a set, but slowly buying pieces of the same turquoise color.

Day 2: The Grand Bazaar!

On Saturday we set out early from campus and headed back to Eminönü/Sultanahmet.  The Grand Bazaar is very touristy, but is really fun to go to because of the range of goods sold there. My goal was to upgrade my “hippy purse” to a nicer leather one that better matches the culture at Koç. (Though I love my green Mexico purse, I stand out like a sore thumb even more than normal when I carry it)  I also wanted to look for some small gifts that I could give to people back in Oregon. Hanane and Aida told me to chill out as soon as I asked if they knew what they wanted to get. Apparently, my American engineer-to-be traits of time management and efficiency also stand out a little too much here 🙂  The bazaar is amazing and you can easily get lost if you’re not careful. The many gates are numbered and there are signs in case you get lost. I have a great sense of direction so I was in charge of getting us out of the bazaar at the end of the day, while Hanane helped everyone bargain and Aida translated if necessary. We make a good team Smile  Here are some pictures of our day

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Chocolate pudding at lunch.

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Pistachio baklava at lunch. Pistachios are one of the most common nut in Turkey.

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Kunefe= the best dessert I have ever had. It has crunchy pastry noodles on the outside with warm stringy cheese filling. It is soaked in butter and sugar syrup and served straight from the oven. DELICIOUS!

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Aida and Hanane at lunch 🙂

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The jewelry aisle in the bazaar. The most common line from the shopkeepers is, “Hello beautiful! Where are you from?” As an American I am really good at walking away, but European culture is different and Hanane and Aida always start a conversation. After finding out where I am from, they want to know if I live in L.A. or New York, the only two cities in America. haha no.

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More pottery at the bazaar. Everything is really colorful.

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Leather jackets are seen everywhere in Turkey as well. I plan on buying one, just so I have one for special occasions. It’s very European chic, you know 🙂

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The look of a common shop.

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Hanane wanted to go to the mall as well, so we found this one. It’s the 2nd biggest mall in Europe and makes Clackamas Town Center look like our local grocery store. I wanted to go to H & M, but they didn’t have it, so I will have to go to Taksim another time.

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They did have Starbucks though!

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And I got my usual drink (cough cough, Lizzy Baker) a caramel machiato Smile so yummy.  And this is how my name turned out when I told the barista. haha

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Here is my new bag!! A fake Mulberry bag from the bazaar! Woohoo Smile I also got a matching teal wallet.

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My roommate, Nalan, modeling my bag as well. We are getting along great!


I love questions and comments, so ask away! I miss you all 🙂

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14 thoughts on “Spice Bazaar and The Grand Bazaar

  1. the coffee cup was beautiful too. When you order coffee at a cafe are they usually so nice and with a saucer or only upsale restraunts?

  2. Maybe you can enlarge and frame the photo of the spices and hang it in your living room someday. It is so colorful. The aroma may always stay with you too!

  3. I ADORE the picture of the spices! I would spend some major time there. Do you have any facilities to do any cooking yourself?

    • Let me know if you have a specific spice that you want us to get you 🙂 Everything is very cheap and spices travel well! Yes, there is a kitchen on the top floor in each dorm. They have a stovetop, a microwave and a pannini press. No oven though which means no brownies, or cake or delicious Turkish food that has to be baked 😦

    • I am on the west coast of turkey so I wasn’t affected by the earthquake. Thanks god or your thoughts! We should all keep in mind the people in the earthquake region though.

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