Rainbows of colour flow like a river through the market stalls. Dried spices hang from the canvas roof tops filling the air with an aroma you can taste. Roasted nuts and dried fruits come at you from every direction for sampling. Bartering can be heard as all the voices roll into one and fight for a sale. The locals navigate expertly through the crowd, while the rest of us have no choice but to give into the sea of people. Every sense is overwhelmed. Welcome to Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar. An incredible food market full of colour, people, tradition and all the wonderful and wild flavours of Turkey.
We crossed First Bridge to Istanbul’s Asian side where there is an incredible view of the city. Standing at Istanbul’s highest point, you can see the Bosphorus river snake through the city dividing Asia and Europe and then a city that seems to stretch on forever. White houses and apartment blocks cover the face of the city and stretch far beyond where the eye can see. We met a lovely Turkish man, Hassan, who took us to his favourite local cafe just down the hill, where we sipped on turkish tea and coffee. He taught us the brewing tips and techniques for their traditional kurdish tea. Quite a different taste to what we’re used to, but very enjoyable with a strong slightly bitter flavour, served black in little hour-shaped tea glasses. Such a lovely afternoon spent hearing of Turkey’s history, traditions and its current political and economic position.
The Turkish are such welcoming people with a bit of a soft spot for Australians! We were generously shown around the beautiful city of Istanbul, visiting it’s land marks including Hagia Sophia, the underground Basilica Cisterns, the Ottoman Palace, and a true taste of Turkey’s famous doner kebab for lunch. The colour and life through the streets, the smells and flavours in the markets and the heart and spirit of the people are all what makes this city so rich and so alive. I would rush back here to sip on Turkish tea and absorb its street life any day.