Suitcase and World: Plants & Spices.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Plants & Spices.

id I tell you Bro loves plants? It's undeniable he has a love for all things green, flowering, and fruiting and lucky for him, he has a green thumb to go with it so pretty much anything he plants, grows and flourishes. His latest obsession is with grafting trees and one of his recent favorite trees to graft is the mulberry....which they have plenty of in Turkey.

So, it was not a surprise that after Yeni Cami, we walked about 50 feet before stopping at the Plant Market.  Bro hates to shop but plants is one exception.  Here, he had to check out every item on every shelf and down every aisle. :-)

I did learn something from him today. Although most of us would associate tulips with the Netherlands, the flower is actually native to Turkey.  No wonder the Turks love it so much.  Now is bulb planting season so there were plenty of all different types for sale.  I didn't take a close look at where the bulbs were from but it wouldn't surprise me if they came from the Netherlands!

Istanbul shares similar weather with the San Francisco Bay area so much of what Bro saw here, he sees at home.

Adjoining the Plant Market is a small Pet Market.

Everything from fish to birds to small four legged creatures can be found here.  We took a look at the fish since both of us raised them when we were children and I still dream of the day when I can have an aquarium (not good to keep fish when you travel as much as I do).  We also had parakeets when we were growing up so I have a soft spot for song birds.  The animals were kept inside the stores but for some reason, all the food was sold outside.

Here, you can pick up food for Kitty in bulk.

By far, the most unexpected, oddest, strangest, weirdest thing we saw in the Plant Market were the leeches. Yes, you read that correctly, leeches.  Large plastic containers filled with the blood sucking creatures.  As best we could tell, they are used for medicinal purposes. They came in different sizes and had different price tags.  More lira for larger leech?  Why they're sold in the Plant Market and not the Pet Market is a question we have yet to answer.

The space for the Plant Bazaar as well as the Spice Bazaar was carved out of the Yeni Cami complex.  I don't remember there being a plaza out front but there is one these days.  While I sat and rested for a bit, Bro used the facilities.  The amusing part thing is that the facilities are located beneath the plaza and you take a people mover to go down!

Next, it was off to the Spice Bazaar which is also known as the Egyptian Bazaar or Mısır Çarşısı in Turkish. Before we entered the building, I warned Bro about two things.  One, it would be a madhouse inside - filled to the brim with people.  The other would be sheer sensory overload.  There would be so much stuff for sale, displayed, piled up and hanging here, there, and everywhere!

We plunged in.  The thing about places like the Spice Bazaar is you can make them as small or as big as you want.  By that I mean, you can spend little time or a lot of time, depending on your interests or needs.  In our case, we walked up and down the main aisle and took a look at a few of the food items for sale.  I pointed out the mounds of spices, dried fruits and teas.  For Bro's sweet tooth, he got to see trays upon trays of baklava and lokum or as we know it better, Turkish delight.

Every time we walk through a market, I keep saying that we should buy some of this and some of that to try out but when I'm in the midst of it all, that's the last thing on my mind.  We usually leave empty handed.  One day I will make the effort to buy bits and bobs of things to sample. 

Dried fruit stuffed with hazelnuts.


Dried fruit on the left, lokum on the right.

Logs of lokum on the left, tea on the right.

Dried vegetable skins hanging above spices.

Sweet tooth lover's heaven!

Bro was awfully quiet during our walk through the Spice Bazaar - he barely said a word.  I didn't know if he was overwhelmed by it all or if he was absorbing it all.  For me, it always falls into the former category.  It's a cool place to be but only in small doses.  Whatever they sell here, I can get elsewhere so there's no real attraction to be in this tourist trap. 

I think we were in the Spice Bazaar for all of 10 minutes.  It was nice to be back outside.   We still have to make it to the two top places on today's itinerary - Süleymaniye Cami and Rüstem Paşa Cami next!