To know what it means to have an assault on the senses, visit the Spice Market or Mısır Çarşısı
[muh-sur char-shuh-suh] in Istanbul. Located in the neighborhood of Eminönü where the once-busy trade and shopping area was during the Byzantine Empire, the Spice Market (though officially known as the Egyptian Market) carries on the tradition of trade.
The colors here alone are enough to excite your sense of sight for spices, nuts, dried fruits, and Turkish delights. This place bustles with people-- buyers and sellers. Like the Grand Bazaar, the sellers at the Spice Market are keen for everyone's business. A seller came out from behind his display and said to us, Hello, how can I help you spend your money? They were eager to tout their business but just a polite smile from us before walking off, they usually got our hint. There were decisions and decisions for us to make. Which store? What should we get? They all look wonderful but really, what should we get? Everything was excellent eye candy but once we chanced upon a store that we really liked (which was purely based on the vibe of their customer service), we ended up leaving with more than what we thought we wanted but with a deep sense of contentment.
Don't be afraid to sample. They will very gladly oblige. In fact, most of the time they will offer you a sample before you ask. If you'd like to get some dried apricots, go ahead and sample a piece. Or, if you'd like some roasted pistachios, go ahead and try a couple of pieces. While each store displays many of their items outside, take the time to step inside the store. Often, the items inside the store are of better quality than the ones displayed outside. We left with packs of roasted corn (which almost resembled peanuts), two types of apricots --sun-dried and factory-dried (the sun dried ones are darker in color, softer, of higher quality, and a little more expensive), sea salt, honey and pistachio Turkish delights. Just before we stepped out of the store, the very friendly lady handed us their business card and said, If you are on Facebook, we can even be friends there. Oh yes, social media takes over the world.
Just outside the west entrance of the Spice Market is Hasırcılar Caddesi, a narrow pedestrianized street with more shops selling street snacks, spices, and housewares. If coming from the Grand Bazaar or the Suleymaniye Mosque, you will walk on Hasırcılar Caddesi which leads you right into the Spice Market.
The Spice Market is located in Eminönü between Sultanahmet (Old City) and Galata/Beyoğlu (New City). The market is just south of the Galata Bridge which connects the old and new city.