Everything described in this post was paid for at my own expense, and I did not let anyone know in advance that I would be blogging about my experiences.
According to every Istanbul guidebook and website I checked out before we arrived in the city, the Spice Market is one of the "must do" activities on any itinerary. We were a little overwhelmed after visiting Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, but since the Spice Market is a short walk from the Bazaar, we thought we'd squeeze both activities into the same day.
In retrospect, that was just too much to take in, but we and the kids loved the plant and pet sellers outside the Spice Market.
The kids insisted that they be allowed to bring home these plants, after an agonizing few moments where I considered explaining customs law, I told them that "we have different dirt in Seattle, and these plants won't grow well at home."
And D begged to bring home a pet - even though she's terrified of any animal that isn't caged.
And then we tried to wander through the Spice Bazaar. Really. We did. But the truth is that we were just fried. Doesn't E look miserable?
In our short tour, we saw signs like this at every stand. I'm glad that E wasn't reading well enough during the trip to ask me what this sign meant! (The "Turkish Viagra" is local figs stuffed with walnuts)
And other lovely looking goodies that I can't believe I didn't try
On the way out, we found a "secret" restaurant, hidden upstairs just at the entrance to the market. Pandeli Restaurant is really a bit too fancy for kids, but we arrived before the lunch crowd, and I was armed with an arsenal of stickers, activity books, and small toys. Just look at the juggling I do to eat a meal with three kids! Luckily we have lots of practice doing this at home.
And wow, was the food worth the effort. I wish I were a better food writer, but you'll have to trust me when I say that the yogurt kabob was one of the best things I have ever tasted.
It seemed to be deep fried bread drenched in a magical, tangy yogurt sauce and then covered in a slightly spicy tomato sauce. It was the sort of dish that you continue eating long after you feel full.
There were more kid friendly options too, including this tender lamb kabob
For me, a meal like that can salvage an entire day, let along a single outing gone awry. While the kids munched mostly on juicy cucumbers and mounds of rice, my husband and I stuffed ourselves. When we finally headed down the stairs and out the spice market door, we found ourselves renewed and ready to tackle the rest of the day.Related Links:
City Guide: Istanbul with Kids