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Istanbul Spice Market – Photo Essay

Photo essay from the chaotic and beautiful Istanbul Spice Markets in Turkey.



We love market places. That crazy scene of ordered chaos that spreads through the clogged and narrow alleyways of many Eastern European and Middle Eastern cities around the world.

And the Istanbul Spice Markets is one of the crazier local markets we have been in.

Istanbul Spice Markets – Photo Essay

Istanbul Spice Market

The hustle and bustle as locals go about their daily lives while tourists stumble around in the way of everyone. Shop keepers call out their specials and try to sell their wares to every passerby that sends a shy glance their way.

Dried fruit Istanbul Spice Market

The delectable smells from fresh produce and spices spreads through the hot sticky air. Shirts cling to our backs as the heat seems unable to escape from beneath the high arched dome ceilings above.

It comes as no surprise then that one of the first places we drop into is the Istanbul spice market.

Istanbul Spice Market

We instantly fell in love with the first shopkeeper after he handed us delectable and chewy slabs of Turkish delight. You can definitely taste why it got it’s name! And sharing Chai Tea with them is a delight in itself.

Chai Tea Istanbul Spice Market

Downing a glass of fresh orange juice to wash away the sticky pistachio’s from the Turkish delight we meandered our way through the many criss-crossing alleyways.

Oranges Istanbul Spice Market

We wish that we didn’t have to backpack around for another 10 days so that we could have brought some of the spices to take home and cook with. Saffron, ginger, paprika and chilly all beg to be added to future culinary delights.

Spice Market Istanbul

It was pretty hard to drag Adela away from these gorgeous twinkling lamps. The only saving grace was convincing her that she was going to have to sacrifice one of her many scarves to fit it in her backpack.

Lamps Istanbul, Istanbul Spice Market

Spices in Istanbul Market

With doggy bags packed and sweet-tooths satisfied it was time to head back into the fresh air.

Definitely think we will be back tomorrow to the Istanbul Spice Market and are really hoping that they have markets along the southern shoreline that we can indulge our five senses in while on our Busabout Sail Turkey cruise.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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  1. Angela

    April 23, 2012 at 7:29 AM

    Gorgeous pictures, I so loved Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar. Should I go now I’d be in danger of buying EVERYTHING!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 23, 2012 at 8:45 PM

      We are still raving about the Turkish Delight we had there!

  2. Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    April 23, 2012 at 7:59 AM

    Another great photo essay guys. You definitely gave me a feel of the market. Looks amazing! Can’t wait to visit.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 23, 2012 at 8:45 PM

      Thanks Bobbi. When are you headed to Istanbul?

  3. Ayngelina

    April 23, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    The lamp photo is so pretty, great shots.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 23, 2012 at 8:46 PM

      Cheers Ayngelina. It was hard work pulling Adela away from buying them.

  4. Laurence

    April 23, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Great colours. Really like the picture of the tea stall with the serving scoop sticking up out of it. Funky stuff!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 23, 2012 at 8:47 PM

      We wish we had been able to take away massive scoops of all the amazing smelling spices.

  5. Natalie

    April 23, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    Love the photos. You captured the aura of the spice market perfectly. I am back in Istanbul next week

    • Cole Burmester

      April 23, 2012 at 8:47 PM

      Looks like we will just miss you by a few days then Natalie!

  6. Francesca

    April 23, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    The Spice Market was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Istanbul, too. We went back a few times, just to make sure we weren’t missing anything. We also were lucky to be able to bring home some spices and tea. Great post, guys!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 23, 2012 at 8:49 PM

      We were gutted we couldn’t buy any as we are travelling around for an extra week and didn’t have the room.

  7. A Montrealer Abroad

    April 23, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    Beautiful and inspiring! So many colors.

  8. Nina F

    April 23, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    What a delightful sensory overload from this market! I would go nuts with the teas and spices, and definitely would not have been able to resist the Turkish delight, either.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 23, 2012 at 8:50 PM

      Glad you enjoyed the photos Nina. We just brought some more Turkish Delight to have after dinner tonight in Eceabat 🙂

  9. Amanda

    April 24, 2012 at 1:01 AM

    Can’t WAIT to see this in person this summer! I love that shot of the hanging lamps.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 24, 2012 at 6:52 AM

      Cheers Amanda. You will absolutely love it! Just go earlier to avoid the crowds 🙂

  10. Shanna Schultz

    April 24, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    OMG this looks amazing! I love markets, and I love the fact that all of the labels in this one are in English. Selfish, I know, but this makes it much easier for us language challenged Americans. When we were in Casablanca, we didn’t buy a whole lot of spices because we only had a short amount of time and couldn’t decipher what each one was.

    Any other tips for must sees in Istanbul? We want to go there soon.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 24, 2012 at 6:55 AM

      I totally get what you mean Shanna about the labels. It definitely helped us out 🙂 We only managed to spend a 2 days in Istanbul (will post more articles soon) but I just recommend visiting everything as soon as they open or just before they close. It is extremely popular with tourists at the moment! The mosques were ridiculously overcrowded with tourists!

  11. Sam and the dunes

    April 24, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    Amazing pictures, very inspiring!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 24, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      Thanks Sam! Have you been to Istanbul before? Love the blog name by the way.

  12. Caro from Passport and a Toothbrush

    April 24, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    Ooooh Istanbul how much I love thee (thy? Is it thy? There’s my attempt at being fancy). Great post guys, I just cannot wait to go back to Istanbul! Are you headed anywhere else in Turkey?

  13. linda @spiceboxtravels

    April 24, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    Hi, love this post! Makes me want to visit Istanbul even more. Will be following you on Twitter now, hope to see you there. (I’m @spiceboxtravels).

    • Cole Burmester

      April 27, 2012 at 9:52 AM

      Thanks Linda for checking us out and glad you enjoyed the pics! Following you back now too 🙂

  14. Linda @EcoTraveller

    April 25, 2012 at 3:17 AM

    Love, love the photos. I have a bit of a thing for markets/food stalls myself… Always manage to end up with more photos of them than anything!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 28, 2012 at 7:00 AM

      I was going snap happy haha. These were just the best ones (well in my opinion) but could have easily loaded up more!

  15. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen)

    April 25, 2012 at 3:22 AM

    These are great photos — wonderful colors! I came smell the markets now! Mmm, and some lively Turkish music in the background. Ahh, great travel memories!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 28, 2012 at 6:59 AM

      So glad we could help bring back some fond memories for you Ellen 🙂

  16. Mike Slough

    April 26, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    Pictures are just awesome man love to see more cool stuff.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 27, 2012 at 9:48 AM

      No worries Mike we will keep putting up our favourite photos!

  17. Sophie HeadingThere

    April 26, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    Beautiful! I think this has to be my favourite April photo essay. Are those apricots filled with hazelnuts? Super cute!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 27, 2012 at 9:47 AM

      Yea all the fruit are filled with nuts and are DELICIOUS Sophie 🙂 Have you ever been?

      • Sophie HeadingThere

        May 4, 2012 at 1:18 PM

        I haven’t been there, but it is on my travel wish-list :)So many places to go…

        • Cole Burmester

          May 7, 2012 at 9:31 AM

          We just got back from Turkey yesterday and already trying to plan how we could get back there as soon as possible!

  18. Wanderplex

    April 27, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    Really vivid, colorful pictures – I can practically smell the spices!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 28, 2012 at 6:58 AM

      We love walking in and being hit by all the smells. Such a chaotic scene but so much fun.

  19. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures

    April 27, 2012 at 11:09 PM

    Gorgeous shots!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 28, 2012 at 6:57 AM

      Thanks Andi 🙂 Have you been to the spice markets or Istanbul before?

  20. Ali

    April 30, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    Andy and I were just in Turkey a couple weeks ago, and we loved Istanbul. I wasn’t a big fan of the spice market because it was so crowded, but somehow the Grand Bazaar seemed more manageable. Wider halls maybe? We did buy some spices at the spice market though, I believe the guy just called it “Turkish spices.” And we bought chili pepper at the Grand Bazaar. We put that stuff on everything while we were in Turkey!

    • Cole Burmester

      May 6, 2012 at 3:58 PM

      The chilli flakes they have at all the restaurants are AMAZING! We brought some back to the UK with us so hopefully it is as good.

  21. D.J. - The World of Deej

    May 1, 2012 at 10:23 PM

    Awesome tour…like I was there myself!

  22. Liv

    May 7, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    Great photos guys – you really got in there! I love the markets in Turkey (all of them!) The people are so friendly without the aggression you feel in some parts of the world.

    • Cole Burmester

      May 7, 2012 at 4:23 PM

      Was less crazy than Cairo that’s for sure! We found that everyone was happy just to chat with us rather than try to convince us to buy something.

  23. Courtney Mroch

    May 7, 2012 at 9:55 PM

    Okay, so where exactly was the spice market? We saw signs for it when we were in the Grand Bazaar, but we couldn’t seem to find it exactly. We did pass a sort of market with spices on our way to the Grand Bazaar. (We were coming from where you could get the fish sandwiches on the boats. We walked in this alley and BAM! Suddenly there were shops and stall everywhere. But it wasn’t the Grand Bazaar yet. We still walked several blocks before we reached it.)

    Your pics are great. I really wish we found the Spice Market. Did they sell the apple tea loose? Oh man, that was my husband’s favorite. I liked it too, but he could not drink enough apple tea. Wish we’d bought some to bring home. (Not sure why we didn’t.) I did bring home a small desk lamp though. (Was afraid to try and transport one of the hanging ones.) Your photos of them are great. I fell in love with them too. VERY neat to see this article after having been to this wonderful city. I better appreciate what the heck you’re writing about.

    • Cole Burmester

      May 10, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      Sounds like you walked through a part of it Courtney! We didn’t go to the Grand Bazaar ourselves as heard the Spice Markets were a lot better (more authentic). They sold everything lose including a range of teas and spices for every occassion 🙂

  24. Danny

    May 9, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    Istabul is one of the most vibrant cities I have ever visited!

    • Cole Burmester

      May 10, 2012 at 10:23 AM

      We loved it and could easily have spent a lot more time there Danny 🙂

  25. Christy @ Technosyncratic

    May 12, 2012 at 2:51 AM

    Yum!! Do they give you samples? 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      May 13, 2012 at 12:08 PM

      You bet Christy! We were filled up just walking through it without buying anything haha. But then felt bad and went back through and brought lots of the nicest stall owners 🙂

  26. Aniruddha

    June 21, 2012 at 3:45 AM

    This is a great photo essay! We (from U.S.) are planning a trip in late August and want to visit Istanbul, Fethiye and some historical places on the coast between them. Our only concern is our son who wil be 13 months at the time! Your blog only inspires us to go though! Thanks!

    • Cole Burmester

      June 23, 2012 at 7:06 AM

      Sounds like you have an awesome trip planned! Did you see our Sail Turkey write ups? I am sure your son will love the warm water 🙂

  27. Lauren @ roamingtheworld

    January 9, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    great photos. I also missed the spice bazaar but did manage to buy a lamp! Ha.
    It was too hard to leave Turkey without one!

    • Cole Burmester

      January 16, 2013 at 11:33 AM

      We just couldn’t fit the lamps in our backpacks (luckily haha).

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Amsterdam Food Guide

If you think of Amsterdam you don’t think of food. However if you try the food here in our Amsterdam food guide you might get lucky.




Amsterdam Food Waffles

We are total foodies and our travelling has allowed our passion for food to grow considerably (not to mention our waist lines)!  We love trying new food when we visit foreign countries and always make a huge effort to eat the local cuisine. Check out some of the food we ate below in our cheap and delicious Amsterdam Food Guide.

Amsterdam Food Waffles

We had heard from a number of people that the Amsterdam food was nothing to rave about. To be honest food was not really our main interest in visiting but then again neither was an Amsterdam Peep show and we ended up enjoying that!

However we were pleasantly surprised. I think the people whom we had talked to had it wrong. Sure Holland doesn’t really have a local cuisine but once we got over this fact we realised there is still some damn good food to be had from the various Amsterdam Restaurants.

Amsterdam Food

The best meal we had was actually next door to the Red Light district in Chinatown. Crossing the canal to the east away from the neon lights your nostrils are attacked and your mouth begins salivating from the delicious smells wafting along the narrow cobbled streets.

As we walked into Bird Thai restaurant the enticing aroma hit us instantly leaving us drooling in anticipation. It was definitely up there with some of the best Thai food we have had. We went for the classic Green curry, fried rice and duck combo.

The Green curry was so flavoursome with the richness of the coconut milk blending perfectly with the traditional spices.  The duck was cooked to perfection and for the first few minutes of the meal all you could hear was the crunching of the crispy outside layer as we devoured the duck in minutes. Needless to say the fried rice was a taste explosion too!

Cheap and delicious Amsterdam food is easy to come by. With hangovers and munchies affecting your hunger it is no surprise that there are an abundance of Fast Food chains and takeaways in Amsterdam. In fact it was actually more the way that the fast food was served that surprised us as you could buy it out of massive vending machines at Febo!

Amsterdam Food Febo

Hidden workers stand behind the vending machines churning out burgers, fries and sausage rolls so all you has to do is insert a Euro and “hey presto” you have a hot meal in your hungry hands.

Then there were the frites stores which seemed to be on every corner. The first thing you noticed about these was the tantalising smell. There is nothing like the smell of chips straight out of the fryer and covered in salt to get you tummy rumbling. Served in a triangle cardboard carton and covered in mayo which meant that that you couldn’t reach the chips at the bottom without covering your greedy fingers in sauce. Just a tad annoying!

But there is nothing like hot chips to warm you up on a cold day.

Finally, while hot chocolates are not typically food I feel they still deserve a mention especially because the usually come paired with waffles! Ahhhh the perfect breakfast.

Amsterdam Hot Chocolate

We loved nipping into a cafe or bar like Cafe Bar Eddy in Amsterdam to warm ourselves up with a hot chocolate. It literally tasted like they had melted chocolate down and added cream. Heaven in a cup. And the choice of waffles was daunting as you could have whatever you wanted. Fruit, chocolate, syrups, cream or all of the above!

If you are heading here then don’t expect to find an array of traditional Amsterdam food. Instead treat yourself to a hot chocolate and waffle for breakfast, grab a quick bite from a vending machine and sample some of the different cuisines found near the Red Light District.

If you stick to this Amsterdam food guide then your taste buds will have a great holiday too!

If you have visited before then what did you think of Amsterdam food?

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How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Check out our guide for the first timer in Amsterdam visiting a coffeeshop.



How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Before getting started I just want to clarify that we are not drug users. We don’t condone using illegal drugs. And we are not telling you to go and smoke weed in Amsterdam. BUT, our goal of this travel blog is to help advise, educate and provide travel tips for ALL situations. So if you are headed to Amsterdam then we hope our guide to smoking weed in Amsterdam will help you out.

And check out this smoker friendly accommodation for your next trip.

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam Coffeeshop

When you tell people that you are visiting Amsterdam then they immediately think of one thing and one thing only. Weed. Dope. Herb. Buds. Spliff. Whacky Tobbacky. Pot. Marijuana. Cannabis. 

Call it what you will but just know that the biggest name for it is “ILLEGAL”.

Yes it is actually illegal to smoke weed in Amsterdam. But for now the Netherlands government do tolerate smoking in designated “coffeeshops”. This is slowly changing as the Government tries to moderate the tourism drug trade and in 2013 there will be new laws which we won’t go in to now as they are continuously changing.

In the meantime if you obey the rules, are not a moron and use our guide to smoking weed in Amsterdam then you are going to be fine.

Smoke weed in Amsterdam

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Don’t smoke weed in Amsterdam in public such as on the streets. There are over 300 designated coffee shops where you are tolerated to smoke weed. These places are regulated and everything is done in the open.

Don’t get confused and try to smoke in a koffiehuis (coffee house) which sells coffee and light meals or a café that is a casual restaurant and/or bar.

The coffeeshops are super easy to spot with marijuana leaves in the windows and Bob Marley paintings on the doors. Not to mention the smell wafting through the cold breeze. There will also be the usual tourists that have stupidly over-indulged and are glassy eyed.

We visited one of the five Bulldog coffeeshops when we were in Amsterdam and had no complaints. We even enjoyed a delicious hot chocolate while we were there!

Bulldog Coffeeshop in Amsterdam

Buying weed in Amsterdam

As long as you are over 18 then you will be allowed to buy up to 5 grams of weed in the regulated coffeeshops. Plus you have the added security knowing that your marijuana is not going to be laced with anything else if you are attempting to buy it off someone on the street. And who knows, they might be setting you up to get busted.

We were (and are) total amateurs and had no idea what to do once we actually stepped foot in the coffeeshop. But quickly sussed it out. There will generally be a “dealer bar” with full menu’s and everything for you to choose. So if you are an expert you will probably know what to order! Prices will of course vary by quantity (grams, bags, individual joints) and quality.

For a beginner ask lots of questions. Don’t be shy like we were. Ask the staff what they recommend and what effects each type has. They will know then that you are a newbie and will guide you. Just know that they are very accustomed to tourists who don’t know exactly how to go about the whole process.

What we found out is that it is actually perfectly fine for you to visit other coffeeshops and smoke weed that you have already purchased somewhere else. However, it is considered rude not to at least buy a hot chocolate or coffee if you do this. Coffeeshops do also have some of the best coffee in Amsterdam.

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Don’t be an idiot

Number 1 rule: Don’t smoke too much weed in Amsterdam! Even if you are a pot loving hippie from a commune you are probably going to find the marijuana really strong in Amsterdam. Just take it slow.

If you are enjoying a drink as well then again take it easy with the booze. All the coffeshops won’t sell you beer as well as cannabis.

EAT! Don’t go drinking and smoking on an empty stomach as cannabis lowers your blood sugar level and this can turn a fun day into a disaster if you haven’t eaten recently. Check out our Amsterdam Food Guide for some quick eating tips here.

A final word of warning, please watch out for the spacecake! Eating cannabis will knock you on your ass and is much stronger than when smoked.

Finally, enjoy yourselves and for goodness sake obey the rules, laws and customs while you are smoking weed in Amsterdam.

If you have an addiction to drugs then reach out and seek some help.

Check out these Weed Products for your next travel adventure.

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Four Jandals Visits an Amsterdam Peep Show

Have you ever wanted to visit an Amsterdam peep show? We had the chance to go and embraced it with open arms. Check out our experience here



Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

An Amsterdam peep show is a must, just like visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Okay slightly different. But you have got to go!

And if you have ever wanted to visit Amsterdam then more than likely you are going to be interested in checking out a peep show in the red light district. It might be worthwhile checking out this Amsterdam’s Red Light District – The ultimate guide.

Amsterdam Moulin Rouge Red Light District

There is something about the red light district that draws the punters and tourists alike in. Maybe it is the bright red neon lights that illuminate the darkened alleyways that pull them in like moths to a flame. Or the bars and coffee shops that let a certain smell waft lazily across the glistening canals.

Or maybe it is just the fact that sex really does sell.

When we visited Amsterdam with a couple of friends we actually spent what I now consider an embarrassingly long time in that same area. The fact is that we seriously could not get enough.

Not like that of course!

We just couldn’t believe that everyone is so open and carefree about what is for all intents and purposes, window shopping for sex. The number of guys knocking on windows and being ushered behind the curtains of every room were staggering.

However, we were not enticed ourselves to fork over $50 euros but were intrigued enough to want to check out an Amsterdam peep show. I just want to clarify here that it was actually Adela that was the most keen. I just didn’t want to let her down so went along with it…

Amsterdam Red Light District

Visiting the Amsterdam peep show

Much to our surprise, there is only one Amsterdam peep show left in the whole city back in 2012!

The very originally named “Sex Palace” is situated on the banks of one of the main canals in the heart of the red light district on Oudezijds Achterburgwal street. Walking under the neon flashing lights into the entrance way your senses are assaulted by sights, sounds and disturbingly smell.

All around the walls are posters and screens showing ladies in various states of undress and positions. A white board lists the movies that you can rent out for your viewing pleasure in one of the many private booths. But we were only there for one thing:

The circular structure sitting slightly to the left of the entrance with a dozen small doors along it’s walls. 

Each of those small doors lead into equally small rooms no larger than a traditional UK phone box. A small covered viewing window blocks your view forward.

The money box clinging to the wall to operate the viewing window only accepts coins. But don’t worry if you only have notes as they handily have a large coin machine dishing out $2 euro coins for ease of watching.

Once you close the door and chuck in your money, the viewing window pops open for 2 minutes and allows you to view the large, slowly-rotating stage on which a scantily-dressed woman displays herself. With her flexibility she could have represented any country in the upcoming Olympics!

Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

I was cracking up laughing the entire time I was in there because you can actually just make out the rest of the “audience” in the opposite booths. I even got a little wave and smile as the girl slowly revolved past my window.

The Amsterdam peep show was a little bit creepy. But even though we were there late on a Saturday night the booths were doing a roaring trade. Obviously nearly everyone else, from the hens parties to the couples, were there for the same reason as us. To check out one or two rounds before heading back into the night giggling like school girls at a sleepover at what we had just done.

The shifty eyed single men on the other hand skulked away to their respective viewing windows again and again with pockets full of coins.

If you ever get the chance then we actually do highly recommend taking the plunge and visiting an Amsterdam peep show. Just make sure that you are always respectful of the women in the shows and the ones on the streets!

Have you ever been to an Amsterdam Peep Show or Sex show? Tell us about your experience below.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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