Tag Archives: travelling

Breakfast at Istanbul’s Spice Market

If the Grand Bazaar is Istanbul’s haven for shoppers, then the Spice Market is for the foodies. Also called the Egyptian Bazaar (or Mısır Çarşısı in Turkish), it’s the second largest covered market in Istanbul, second only to the Grand Bazaar. Where the Grand Bazaar is filled with stall after stall of jewelry, clothes, carpets, and other myriad souvenirs, the Spice Market – as you might guess from its name – is all about food. While a few shops sell small souvenirs, they’re far outnumbered by their neighbors that purvey all manner of dried fruits, nuts, teas, sweets, and every sort of spice you could wish for.

Dried eggplants, tomatoes, and okra outside the Spice Market.
Dried eggplants, tomatoes, and okra outside the Spice Market.

The Spice Market is located in the Eminönü neighborhood in the Fatih district, only a stone’s throw from the Galata Bridge and directly behind the New Mosque. (Which, incidentally, is four hundred years old. Only in Istanbul would that be considered ‘new.’) Compared to the Grand Bazaar’s maze of corridors, its hundred or so stalls are a dream to navigate.

The New Mosque outside of the Spice Market.
The New Mosque outside of the Spice Market. 

As you walk down the center arcade, vendors plying Turkish delight will offer you tiny cubes of the gummy, pistachio- and hazelnut-laden stuff in flavors as varied as pomegranate, cinnamon, rosewater, mint, or orange. Other sellers will beckon you into their shops to marvel at the dozens of teas that perfume the air. Powdery piles of red pepper, mint, saffron, and sumac tickle your nose with their pungent aromas.

Dried dates, mangos, pineapples, tomatoes, apricots, and figs are only a few of the snacks available at the Spice Market.
Dried dates, mangos, pineapples, tomatoes, apricots, and figs are only a few of the snacks available at the Spice Market.

Continue reading Breakfast at Istanbul’s Spice Market

Walking on the Wild Side in Chitwan National Park

Tiger Lake in Chitwan National Park
Tiger Lake in Chitwan National Park…sadly, we didn’t spot any of the lake’s namesakes.

As I’ve written again and again and again since I started this blog, I love spending time outdoors. Give me a mountain and I’ll be itching to climb it. Point me towards a sea and you’ll have to drag me out when I’m as wrinkled as a prune. And when those outdoor excursions involve elephants, crocodiles, and rhinos? It would take an epic natural disaster to wipe the grin off my face.

Elephant bath time, as seen from the deck of our hotel.
Elephant bath time, as seen from the deck of our hotel.

Because of that, Chitwan National Park was one of my favorite parts of my week in Nepal. One the first day of the New Year, we headed from Lumbini to Chitwan, and as soon as we crossed over into the park itself, my already high spirits skyrocketed. That trend continued when we arrived at our hotel, the Sapana Village Lodge.

My first sunset of 2014 was a beautiful one.
My first sunset of 2014 was a beautiful one.

Continue reading Walking on the Wild Side in Chitwan National Park

I Left a Part of Myself in India

Sorry to lure you here under false pretenses, but this post is not nearly as romantic or sentimental as the title would make it seem. Fair warning: bodily distress of the “oh god, I am going to throw up” kind discussed in this post.

Sometimes I get a bit cocky when traveling. Despite having been to more than twenty countries and eating some pretty suspect food, I’ve only been drastically ill once. (And it wasn’t pretty, but at least I was back on my feet in a day or so.) My immune system is pretty robust. After a week in India and not a single instance of intestinal distress, I thought I’d escaped the dreaded “Delhi Belly” experience that nearly every traveler encounters. One by one, other members of the group had confessed to feeling under the weather, but I’d stayed energetic and upright. Aside from my stomach being unused to the immense amount of spices I was dumping into it, I wasn’t experiencing any major problems. Between the general catch-all stomach tablets that I was preventatively popping every morning and the UV water filter that I was using, I felt on top of the world. “My stomach is made of iron!” I thought to myself. “I am unstoppable. Come at me, India, I can take whatever you throw at me!”

Oh, what foolish prattle that was. Continue reading I Left a Part of Myself in India

Throwback Thursday: Monkeys, Momiji Manju, and Mount Misen on Miyajima

The famous floating torii of Miyajima
The famous floating torii of Miyajima

If you made me pick, right here and now, my favorite place in Japan, chances are that I’d say Miyajima (宮島), a small island off of the coast of Hiroshima. The Japanese consider the view of Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima as one of the three most beautiful views in all of Japan, and I’m certainly not going to argue with them. (Incidentally, I’m bound and determined to see the other two, which are the sandbar of Amanohashidate and the pine-filled islands of Matsushima, before I leave Japan.)

Keeping my eyes open in pictures is not one of my talents.
Keeping my eyes open in pictures is not one of my talents.

Continue reading Throwback Thursday: Monkeys, Momiji Manju, and Mount Misen on Miyajima

What’s the Point of Bucket Lists?

It happens fairly often. Lonely Planet, Intrepid Travel, G Adventures, or Matador will tweet or post a picture of some unearthly landscape. I’ll open said picture and then exhale a sigh that’s usually a mixture of envy (of the photographer) and wonder (of the incredible world we inhabit). I’m in love with my job teaching English in Japan, but when I’m sitting at work, elbow-deep in grading final exams or wading through three hundred essays, all it takes is a picture of some far-off city to send me to Kayak to look up the cost of plane tickets. Just in case. It never hurts to know, right? Once I pry myself off WikiTravel, I head to my desktop to open a file simply titled “Bucket List.” And then yet another experience or city or landmark gets added to an already substantial catalog. Continue reading What’s the Point of Bucket Lists?

Throwback Thursday: German Christmas Markets

Seeing as it’s the Christmas season, it seemed only appropriate that I write about one of my favorite European winter traditions: Christmas markets. When I studied abroad in Cologne, Germany, going to the Christmas markets was absolutely one of my favorite memories. They’re becoming a bit more popular now in the States (I hear the one in Chicago is particularly impressive), but perhaps I’m a bit spoiled or biased, because those in Europe, especially Germany, will always be number one in my heart. Give me the choice between doing my Christmas shopping at an American mall or spending the afternoon perusing a Weihnachtsmarkt with a mug of mulled wine in one hand and a potato pancake in the other, and that decision is a no-brainer for me.

Even when it was rainy, the Christmas market in Berlin was warmly lit.
Even when it was rainy, the Christmas market in Berlin was warmly lit.

Continue reading Throwback Thursday: German Christmas Markets

Throwback Thursday – Helsingør

Looking out over the Øresund strait from the ramparts of Kronborg.
Looking out over the Øresund strait from the ramparts of Kronborg.

I suspect that Hamlet must’ve been smoking something hallucinogenic, because I couldn’t find a single thing rotten in Denmark while I was there. It’s a country full of impossibly beautiful people, breathtaking coastal scenery, and a relaxed, accessible cultural vibe that I fell in love with. One of my friends once remarked to me, “If you really want to achieve the American dream, move to Denmark.”

A sign that tells it how it is.
A sign that tells it how it is.

Continue reading Throwback Thursday – Helsingør