Spice Girls

The Kapalı Çarşı, the Grand Bazaar, is a covered shopping district spanning 66 streets and containing somewhere around 5,000 shops. Here’s one of the main entrances:

The Grand Bazaar has been a marketplace for about 600 years. Many of the shops seem to be held in the same family for generations, which means that these people have decades – if not centuries – to perfect the art of touting their wares. They are master hagglers.

Here’s one of the main alleys, caught by my camera during a lull in traffic:

The shops carry mostly tourist goods: carpets (of course), pillow covers, scarves, leather jackets, lamps, tea sets, backgammon boards and wooden boxes, T-shirts, pajama pants, shoes, slippers, lots and lots of jewelry, nick-nacks, purses and musical instruments, just to name some of the more common items.

Like I said, it’s mostly a tourist trade in the Grand Bazaar; we hardly saw any locals shopping there.

After spending about two hours wandering and getting lost in the Grand Bazaar, we decided to go in search of the Spice Bazaar to the north. Leaving the Grand Bazaar, we discovered where the local Turkish people do their shopping: the area between the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar. You can see, for instance, the shop selling the “trench coats” worn by muslim women to the right in this picture.

This street was crazy busy with local shoppers. The women to the left are in customary muslim dress, complete with trench coats.

At the far end we did find the Spice Bazaar. The scents and colors were overwhelming.

One guy was really pushing his magic tea:

He kept saying, “Love tea, love tea, very good for honeymoon, boing boing!”

My Spice Girl found her favorite spice store and we sampled the wares.

When we first stopped at this shop they had no customers but us. Then, all of a sudden, the place was jammed with people:

The guy that was helping Dale said that she had “Lucky Feet” that brought them customers. He was happy; I’m guessing he was on commission.

The girl running the cash register wasn’t as pleased, however. I thought her dress and the background made a perfect picture, so I asked if I could take her picture. She acquiesced, but wasn’t happy about it (“Silly tourists,” her expression said). Maybe the Spice Girls need another member for their band. Let’s call her “Tolerant Spice.”

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