Two of the major “must-see” sights in Istanbul are the Spice Market and the Grand Bazaar. But if I’m honest, I don’t see the appeal. Both places were suffocatingly crowded and though my research had indicated that they were different, they seemed to have all the same stuff, just a ton more at the Grand Bazaar. I did love the piles of lovely spices, and the amazing smells, but from stall to stall it all seemed the same.
Have you been to either? Could you tell a difference? It seemed sort of like the leather stalls in Florence; whether you’re at the San Lorenzo market or the Mercato Nuovo, everything seems like the same products repeated over and over ad infinitum.
Unsurprisingly, my favorite part of the Grand Bazaar was the nearly empty book alley behind the main complex. Some of the sellers had old/rare books, with stunning examples of calligraphy, some were clearly catering to students of Istanbul University, and some just had books. I forget if I mentioned this before, but I’ve started buying a copy of “Le Petit Prince” in the native language of each country I visit, so I was happy to add to my collection with a copy from one of these stalls. It’s called “Küçük Prens” in Turkish. Otherwise the Spice Market and Grand Bazaar gave me headaches and triggered a bit of claustrophobia. I’ll probably skip them both on future visits to Istanbul.