One Market - Many Stories - Journal of Nomads

One market – many stories

I had never realized how many stories a market can tell. I used to associate markets with my weekly shopping. Going there, buying fruit and veggies, maybe some cheese and salami, every once in a while a few clothes and that was it. Of course I took the time to look around and enjoy the vivid vibe but it’s only recently that I became aware how much markets can tell me about a culture and a country!

 

One market - many stories www.journalofnomads.com

 

I never paid attention to the uniqueness of the markets in my home country, Belgium, because they were so familiar. When I was a child I used to join my mother every Wednesday afternoon to the local market to buy a freshly grilled (free range!) chicken for supper (with Belgian fries and apricots on the side, mmm). This was a little ritual we had for years so I grew up with weekly visits to the markets. This is why I never was really impressed by markets in other Western European countries because they’re very similar to the ones in Belgium. It wasn’t until two friends of mine took me to a little local market in Turkey that I realized how much there is to see, hear, smell and learn without even having a verbal exchange! Sometimes we have to indulge ourselves into something new to appreciate the old.

 

One market - many stories www.journalofnomads.com

 

One market - many stories www.journalofnomads.com

 

After one visit I already learned which kind of fruit and vegetables are grown in Turkey, what they like to eat, what the latest fashion is and what kind of clothes the people like to wear. The young men wear very similar clothes like we do in Europe, the older man wear mostly baggy trousers (called şalvar), long-sleeve shirts, a vest and sometimes a traditional woolen cap (called kufi) on their heads.
The women wear baggy trousers (şalvars), sleeved tops to the elbows or wrists and a head scarf. The girls wear similar clothes although they might trade the trousers for a long skirt and wear their headscarf very stylishly. The headscarf in Turkey isn’t necessarily connected with the religion but is more an expression of the culture. In the cities you’ll see a lot of young girls without a head scarf and they are mostly dressed in a very European style. So one clothing vendor will sell jeans, sweaters, tops and t-shirts while another will sell you şalvars and head scarves.

 

One Market - Many Stories - Journal of Nomads

 

 

 

One Market - Many Stories - Journal of Nomads

 

 

 

One Market - Many Stories - Journal of Nomads

 

 

One Market - Many Stories - Journal of Nomads

 

I also enjoyed looking into the household products. I loved that the old-fashioned brooms – which our grandmothers used to sweep the floors with before the vacuum cleaner was invented – are still very popular here! The same counts for plastic washing-up bowls, although the dishes are more likely to be washed under running water because it’s seen as being more hygienic. They also sell a lot of hardware and hand tools.

 

 

 

One market - many stories www.journalofnomads.com

 

 

One Market - Many Stories - Journal of Nomads

 

 

One thing I knew for sure though was that I didn’t feel like buying meat here …

 

 

 

One market - many stories www.journalofnomads.com

 

 

But I didn’t mind trying a a tasty dürüm or a döner kebab !

One market - many stories

 

Something that I didn’t enjoy were the cages with live poultry. It broke my heart to watch all those little chicks, ducklings, jakes and jennies (the funny official names for baby turkeys) tumbling over each other in those cages. Apparently most people buy these little ones for their eggs so most chickens and ducks only end up on the dinner table after a lifetime of running freely around the garden while providing the main ingredients for a nice big omelet. Except for the turkeys, they’ll have a nice life until it’s Christmas time (not all of them are as lucky as Lurkey, the turkey we’ve cared for during our house-sitting experience).

 

 

 

Schermopname (99)

 

Schermopname (101)

 

What I definitely loved about this village market was that there were no tourists to be found, nor were the products aimed to be sold as souvenirs. It wasn’t very common for the villagers to see foreigners here. At a certain moment I became the subject for the cameras of a few girls. As much as I was in awe for their beauty, they were admiring my exotic looks. For a brief moment I felt like a celebrity when all those girls wanted to take a selfie with me. We also made a beautiful group picture which I love very much. Women from different ages and backgrounds united on a little village market!

 

One market - many stories

 

One market - many stories

 

I’m happy that I visited the markets with such curiosity and awareness. The colorful clothes and products, the smell of fried food, the sound of people bargaining with each other (I can still hear the word “Buyrun” – which means “Can I help you” – ringing in my ears),… It was a source of inspiration and it gave my soul such a joyful boost!

 

One market - many stories www.journalofnomads.com

 

One Market - Many Stories - Journal of Nomads

 

One Market - Many Stories - Journal of Nomads

 

 

 

 

Markets give an authentic cultural reflection on a country. From now on I will always visit markets with an open mind, even the ones in Belgium – someday, when I return from this world trip.

 

One Market Many Stories - Journal of Nomads
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Join me for a visit to a few markets in this vlog. I couldn’t capture the smells with my camera (technology isn’t that advanced – yet) but you’ll definitely feel the atmosphere of the vivid markets!

Watch more travel videos here

 

 

 

Follow Cynthia - Journal of Nomads:

Writer, photographer and co-founder at Journal of Nomads

I have Belgian roots but the world has been my home for the past 7 years. I'm an artist at heart and often get lost in my thoughts. I like to create some-thing out of no-thing and once I feel inspired, I'm unstoppable. I love telling stories and taking photos, showing the beauty and extraordinary of the world around me. Oh, and I love making the impossible elegantly probable. Once you realize that you're a creator and the world is your playfield, there's no limit to what can be done!

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Beautifully TravelledTravel LushesChristina PfeifferJournal of NomadsErika Bisbocci Recent comment authors
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Beautifully Travelled

I love markets. Especially the ones that sell a whole range of stuff.We used to have a market near our house and we went on a family outing every week. You cannot beat fresh local produce. It is a shame though how those poultry are kept…

Journal of Nomads
Journal of Nomads

Markets are a great place to go to with your family or friends. I love the atmosphere of an evening market too. It’s a social meeting place. And yes, nothing beats fresh local products! Sadly enough this is how in most countries the poultry are kept. It makes me sad to see it too and if I could, I would take them all with me 🙂

Travel Lushes
Travel Lushes

It’s interesting how easy it is to take for granted something we see every day in our hometowns, but find the beauty in something similar when it’s located in an unfamiliar place. That happens to me all the time! As for the meat paragraph – that’s what turned me into a vegetarian. My whole life, I never thought about what the animals go through. We often just see something on our plate and never think about what happened before it got there. Now I think about it all the time and it made me so sad that I started thinking… Read more »

Journal of Nomads
Journal of Nomads

You are so right about the meat! I’ll be honest, I’m not a vegetarian and I like to eat some meat from time to time (say about twice a week). It is so easy not to think about what is in our plate and how it got there. It makes me so much more aware of what exactly it is I eat and what I buy. I also make sure I get free range eggs! The documentary ‘Samsara’ really opened my eyes!!

Christina Pfeiffer
Christina Pfeiffer

Whenever I land in a new country, I always make it a point to visit a market. Markets are so colourful and vibrant. And they give you a real feel for the soul of each country. I particularly love the markets in Istanbul so it was great to read about your experience visiting rural markets in Turkey!

Journal of Nomads
Journal of Nomads

Thank you Christina. Visiting a market in a country gives us so much more insight of a country! How was your experience in Istanbul?

Erika Bisbocci

You’ve examined markets in a very unique way! I’d never really thought about how much you can glean about a culture by visiting markets, but looking back, I definitely agree with your post. Everything from the dress of shoppers, to the produce sold to the way people shop (do they bargain? do they stand in lines?) can give insight into the local culture. Perhaps that is subconsciously why I’ve always loved visiting markets!

Journal of Nomads
Journal of Nomads

Yes, markets are a social place where the locals gather and meet with neighbours, friends,… I was never really aware until now how markets are more than just a place to purchase food, clothes,…

Vyjay Rao
Vyjay Rao

You present a different perspective of markets in general and that set my thoughts whirring. Come to think of it markets have always been more than a place to buy and sell, probably in ancient civilizations they have also been a kind of a social melting pot, a place to interact and exchange gossip, a place to cultivate friendship, etc.

Journal of Nomads
Journal of Nomads

I like to way how you describe this Vyjay. You’re right, markets have probably existed since ancient times and it’s a social place to meet with the neighbours, catch up with friends or meeting random new people. It is so much more than a selling place!

Amanda Williams
Amanda Williams

You are so right. Markets can tell you so much about a country, it’s people and culture, food and traditions. I love looking around markets when I’m travelling, looking at the products on offer and taking in the sounds and smells. I totally don’t blame you for not buying any meet though!!

Journal of Nomads
Journal of Nomads

Haha, that meat was indeed not very appealing!! 😀

Crashed Culture
Crashed Culture

My favorite part of traveling is finding where the locals are. In Madrid, there’s El Rastro, which is the world-famous flea market, but it’s filled to the brim with tourists. Of course, the market is beautiful! But then I ran into the real flea market, that real Madrileños go to, with discount underwear and sheets and all sorts of good stuff. It’s always so interesting to see the difference the tourists make in an experience.

Journal of Nomads
Journal of Nomads

It’s indeed very interesting to see that difference. I love going to both markets (touristic and local ones), especially flea markets! But I know always try to find at least one market which is focused on selling to the locals. It is super interesting to see what is being sold there and how people interact with each other. And they are also cheaper 🙂

Deirdre
Deirdre

I love markets! Such a great and interesting post!