Muttering Turkish conclusion

Istanbul Spice Bazaar

Those feeling ill should consider eating 100g of double pistachio Turkish Delight, five pimento stuffed green olives, a cup of apple tea, and a single white peppercorn from the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul. Even if it does you less good than it seems to have done me, the search for these items will lead you into and through one of the most interesting parts of the city. Perhaps because it actually sells useful things, in contrast to the touristy trinkets of the Grand Bazaar, the place has a much healthier and more enjoyable air. I now have over a kilo of various vacuum sealed fresh spices to share with friends in England.

This morning consisted of a second long foray into the Grand Bazaar. Never a real fan of shopping, it became pretty grating quite soon. That said, it is just the place for those souls who really delight in the art of haggling. During the afternoon, we saw the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (which had two guards and one staff member for every guest). Unfortunately, I wasn’t entirely in a state to appreciate it, though some of the calligraphy included was undenialy very fine. All day, I have felt like a spiky ball has been inside my head: when I move forward, it hits the back of my head painfully. Likewise if I turn or move around. When I cough, as I have been doing often, the spiky ball doubles in size and pierces the inside of my skull from all directions. Massive doses of vitamin C, purchased from a local pharmacy this morning, have not been an effective counter thus far. Part of the problem is that it so cold in the rooms of the Sultan Hostel that my father and I were waking one another up every few minutes, as we fought over shared blankets all night while wrapped in warm clothes and woolen hats. Perhaps this is a concealed blessing, serving to make the return to Oxford seem more welcome.

This evening’s Spice Bazaar visit, along with tea, backgammon, and lentil soup in the simple restaurant where we have been finding ourselves once a day, made for a good end to our last day in Turkey. It is unlikely that I will have the chance to return any time soon, but I definitely recommend it to curious and adventurous travellers.

PS. My standard internet cafe has been without access for three days and the staff seem utterly unhurried about repairing anything. At the best of times, their total revenue is less than four Canadian dollars an hour. The fact that they seem to be open all the time is at least odd and at most suspicious. The upshot of all of this is that I only get a fifteen minute burst of hostel internet time, which has now very nearly expired.

I will write more and post additional pictures from Oxford tomorrow night.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

8 thoughts on “Muttering Turkish conclusion”

  1. Sorry to hear you are yet again unwell. It’s not been a good year for you health-wise, has it? Sorry also to hear about the cold. I was quite surprised just how chilly it was when I visited in May – the wind off the sea at Istanbul is incredibly cold – but in your case the frigid accommodation must have been totally miserable.

    What did you make of Turkey overall then, in light of your post before you left?

  2. Lee,

    Turkey never really seemed like an alien place. Maybe that is because we didn’t really get off the tourist track. With the exception of waking up to hear my first call to prayer in the very early morning, nothing was really terribly surprising.

    That is not to say the experience was anything less than very valuable. It is just that Turkey can be understood as a conglomerate of things already seen.

  3. Meghan,

    200g of vacuum sealed oregano
    100g of white peppercorns
    200g of apple tea
    200g of Turkish tea
    100g of cinnamon tea
    100g of cinnamon

  4. That sounds good – especially the varieties of tea. I recently went to ShakTea on Main St and got myself some jasmine pearl tea.

    With the oregano question, I was referring to that infomercial: the one where the salesman was extolling the virtues of some vacuum sealing machine. He’d bought bulk oregano only to realize his wife hated the smell of oregano. But never fear! Once he’d vacuum sealed it, there was no smell. None whatsoever.

  5. Meghan,

    Oh, I recall. Inside jokes are something that I generally have a good memory for. That can be quite essential for maintaining relationships, actually.

    Jasmine pearl tea is superb stuff.

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