The heady scents of saffron, cloves and sugar fill the air at the electric Egyptian Spice Bazaar, or Misir Carsisi
, one of Istanbul's oldest markets. Aisle after aisle, more than 85 lively stallholders sell their wares in this cavernous covered market, built in 1660, under the vaulted ceiling lit by Turkish lamps.
This is a place to simply dive in and wander the crowded stalls. Baskets filled with every spice under the sun add colors of gold, orange, yellow and green, while the array of dried fruits and nuts is impressive. Travelers can stop for a tea, pause to chat with a carpet seller or stock up on Turkish delights, dried apricots, pistachios, homemade sweets and walnuts. Visitors can also find Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi, the premier supplier of coffee in Istanbul, at the corner of Hasircilar Caddesi. Those in a rush are missing the point.