The smells … the colors … the people flooding in and out of the ancient Spice Market in Istanbul was overwhelming.
After my decidedly non-tourist day watching a movie the day before, Joe and I planned a perfect tour of Turkey for the following day.
We met early in the morning at Harmony, planning to make a day of being in Istanbul. I was on a budget, so instructed him to take us on a tour of free things. I was on a budget, so instructed him to take us on a tour of free things.
With his guidebook in hand, he did just that, navigating the streets, the trams, and leading us to the market.
“Wow,” I said, breathing in the smells of the fish, fruit, cheese and veggie vendors outside and the spices and Turkish Delights inside. “This is intense.”
Like other markets I had been to, people called out from both sides, tempting you to their stores with plates of chewy and sweet Turkish Delights, teas and more.
Of course, I had to buy a little brown bag full of the tasty morsels.
Then, it was off to the Grand Bazaar.
“D, are you in a good mood?” Joe asked.
“Because I know you don’t like crowds … and this … well … there are 4,000 stores here.”
We stepped in to the enclosed bazaar. Again, people everywhere. People calling to shoppers.
I was in my own shopping paradise/hell.
Scarves. Jewelry. Lanterns. Ceramics. Clothes. Genuine fakes.
Oh. My. God.
My head was spinning with all of the things I wanted to buy. Instead, I settled for one ring (which would later leave green in its place on my finger), and then helped Joe barter for gifts.
We were both nearly exhausted, but I still had to visit the Blue Mosque.
I got in the queue and slowly, in a single-file line, entered into the holy site. The first thing I noticed was the plush flooring. The carpet was thick and felt so good on my sore, bare feet. The next thing I noticed was the sheer monstrosity of the structure. It reached up and up and up in beautiful domes laced with tiny light bulbs. Peace and tranquility spread quickly through me as I wandered around inside.
I exited to Joe, waiting patiently for me, with a smile on his face.
It should be noted, Joe was ALWAYS smiling. Biggest smiler, best mood … always.
We retreated to an outdoor cafe for some shisha and to figure out my plans. I knew I would be in Turkey for awhile, but that was all I knew.
He pulled out his guidebook and read me a little snippet about the Fez Bus Tour.
“It takes you down the coast and up through Cappadocia, and then back to Istanbul. That’s where you want to go … and you can hop on and hop off so you can take your time in each place. I think it is perfect.”
It sounded perfect.
So, instead of going home to rest for a little bit, we went down to the Fez office and I purchased a ticket to get on the bus … leaving the next morning at 7 a.m.
This is going to change your entire trip, D.
I had no idea how much it would change everything.