Istanbul - Lunch, Shopping, and the Spice Market

We continued our walk along Istanbul's Divan Yolu Caddesi until we reached the Column of Constantine (aka the Burnt Column).  The column dates to 339 AD and is a useful landmark in this busy part of town.  It was scorched in the 1700s when an earthquake and fire swept through the neighborhood.
Looking across the street from the column, we spotted pomegranates bursting with juice.  For 2.50 Turkish Liras (about 1 euro), I got a cup of fresh squeezed pomegranate juice -- amazing!
We walked to the area around the Grand Bazaar which was unusually quiet because it's closed on Sundays.
We took the opportunity to take a walk through the neighborhood without the usual touts and merchants trying to lure us in.
We emerged on a square near the Beyazit Mosque and sat down outside to sample some Turkish fast food -- döner‎ kebab.
A cup of tea and döner in lavash bread really hit the spot.‎
From here, we wandered to the book market held in a courtyard of the Beyazit Mosque.
The area just outside the covered Grand Bazaar was hopping even though the Bazaar itself was closed.
We ran the gauntlet of vendors selling everything from belts, to knock-off designer brands, to household supplies.
I got a chuckle out of this t-shirt vendor -- the mannequins are wearing shirts but no pants.
We soon spotted Süleymaniye Mosque in the distance and pointed ourselves in that direction.
After a brief uphill climb, we arrived and took a walk around the grounds.
Once again, we took off our shoes, I donned a headscarf, and we were allowed inside.  We felt lucky to get a glimpse into this world.  In many other Islamic countries, non-Muslims are not allowed inside mosques. The architecture and decorations were awe-inspiring -- particularly the domes.
We emerged into the courtyard and enjoyed sweeping views of the Bosphorus in the distance.
Someone walking around the courtyard approached us and warned us not to be alarmed if we heard gunfire.  What?!  It turns out that the cast and crew of Taken 2 was on site filming.  We heard the gunfire and explosions, but alas, we didn't spy Liam Neeson, the film's star.
We descended further into Sultanahmet, winding our way through the neighborhood past this small brick mosque.
Vendors lined the narrow streets on our approach to the Istanbul Spice Market.
We entered the Spice Market and were impressed by the sheer quantity of goods on offer.  The smells were tantalizing.
I spotted something that I know I like -- chickpeas!  They were priced at 10 TL/kg which was a pretty darn good price (~4 euro per kilo).  We bought some sweet grams and some savory ones too from Malatya Pazari.
We browsed our way through the market...
...past gorgeous displays of figs...
...endless varieties of Turkish Delight...
...and other sweet and savory goodies.
After our spice shopping extravaganza, we sought out Hafiz Mustafa, a famous sweet shop nearby.
I couldn't believe the countless varieties of puddings in attractive glass bowls inside the window.
We tried a fig pudding with pistachio garnish and a Turkish coffee to wash it down.
Of course, the coffee came with a side of water in an individually sealed cup and the ubiquitous moist towelette to clean our hands after our snack.
Life is good!  We were surrounded by centuries of history and delicious treats.

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Sidewalk Safari: Istanbul - Lunch, Shopping, and the Spice Market
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