About Claudia

Why I love the Istanbul Spice Market

The colors! The fragrance! The bustling sounds! – And I haven’t even gotten to the spices yet.

grandb1

One can get almost anything from The Grand Bazaar – clothes, rugs, shoes, handbags, leather goods, loofahs, soaps, oils and more. My husband and I got our wedding bands from a well-known, family-trusted jeweler.

Ah, Istanbul is an ancient, gorgeous city built over the millennial and over many civilizations. Traffic is a nightmare in the city, which stretches between two continents. Cars, taxis, buses, water ferries, bikes, scooters, donkeys and carts, walking – these are all acceptable modes of transportation in Istanbul. Don’t bother running: with back-to-back crowds, you wouldn’t get your heart rate up or raise a sweat. Supposedly, modern-day governments wanted to reduce congestion. They built a limited subway system. In the hopes of expanding the underground, the city stumbled upon an ancient civilization. The Ministry of Antiquities was called in and halted the project in its tracks. Congestion remains, but it probably would, regardless of an expanded subway system.

Istanbul is  truly where East meets West. Where Europe and Asia collide in a systematically chaotic, chaotically systematic city across the Bosporus River. The population is somewhere around (no one is ever certain since taking an accurate census in this city of extreme wealth and poverty is nearly impossible) 14 million (http://www.istanbul.com/en/explore/info/turkeys-demography-the-colorful-population-of-istanbul).  As the fifth most populated city in the world, this much I can tell you with certainty: the bustle and energy of the city is deafening.

Since it’s only about 1.5 hour flight from Cyprus, I’ve traveled to Istanbul over half a dozen times.  Some people love this sprawling city built over seven hills; others hate it. I prefer the islands (hands-down: I’m an island-girl), but a weekend trip to Istanbul is a welcome relief from the island-fever one can catch. Plus, the shopping is amazing! Three words for you: THE GRAND BAZAAR!

The Grand Bazaar (or Kapali Carsi in Turkish) is one of the largest and oldest covered area for merchants to sell their goods. It was built shortly after the Ottomans defeated the Byzantine Empire in 1453 (changing history, and the name, of Constantinople into what is now called “Istanbul”) in a couple of streets. Over many years, the bazaar spread over 60 long streets and has well over 5000 shops. Although you are technically above ground, it feel like you are in the middle of an elaborate underground maze.

spice market

An off-shoot of The Grand Bazaar is a whole secondary market, and one of my personal places, the Spice Bazaar. Spices such as turmeric, curry, black pepper, red pepper, white pepper, safflower, dried ginger, dried mint, basil, oregano, sumac, paprika, and so, so, so much more, are heaped in large, colorful mounds.

All five senses come alive in the Spice Market. People yell prices; the smells of various foreign scents fill your nostrils; colors of dried fruit; getting shoved by the throngs of tourists. If you are claustrophobic, the Spice Market is not the place for you.

 My favorite section is the loose tea area. I have become a bit of a herbalist in the past few  years. While I rely on Western doctors for any major problems, I try to eat more health-fully and balanced. I have learned that too much caffeine really affects me. Insomnia, anxiety, stomach bloating, indigestion, and my fibroids really flare up when I drink more than a single cup of coffee per day. My fairly new favorite alternative to keep me warm in the winter (or brewed, then chilled in the summer) is the yummy loose teas I have found in the Spice Market.

For a myriad of health problems, or for simply enjoying the taste of tea: you can get just what your inner goddess ordered. Black, white and green teas; pomegranate tea, specialty teas to combat influenza AND infertility! Seriously – these sellers have something for everyone. My personal favorites are jasmine, hibiscus, and orange/apple.

red flower jasmine

Fragrant, beautiful, and delicate: jasmine flowers open up like lotus on the Nile River when placed in hot water. This tea makes me happy by looking at it and also soothes my anxiety.

orange tea

For my decadent sweet tooth: dried orange and apple peels with hibiscus and a dash of honey.

Nowadays, I forego the Starbucks and brew up some special loose leaf tea that I bring back with me from trips to Istanbul. And if I really need it, a piece of baklava hits the spot, too.

And in case the article above doesn’t make you want to hop a flight to Istanbul and purchase a few kilos of tea: check out this article. Turns out that drinking tea can help you lose weight! http://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/weight-loss-drinks?cid=socWL_20150409_43544466&adbid=586253596569788419&adbpl=tw&adbpr=25087685

Follow Aphrodite’s path and Live Like a Goddess . . .

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2 Comments

  • Reply Barbara Schutt December 3, 2015 at 2:26 PM

    I’d love to travel there!

  • Reply Colene Weidman October 15, 2015 at 3:12 PM

    Great post

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