Multicultural Craft Market – Los Cristianos, Tenerife

It was fortunate that I wasn´t busy one sunny Saturday in February so Jim and I took the girls down to see what was on offer at the Mercado de Artesanía Multicultural, set up around the Culture Centre in Los Cristianos. I say fortunate because I made the mistake of reading the poster, which indicates the event runs from 21st February to end of March….. But you can´t always believe everything you read.

I love these sort of events where you can pick up local goods such as pottery, basketry, hand-made jewellery, wooden toys, leather goods and of course, food and drink. The advantage of this particular fair was you could learn about the different cultures living in this part of the island, as there were 40 stalls all offering high quality goods relating to their own ethnicity – so something to attract and interest most people.

I took the opportunity to stock up, on Almond and Orange Bread, Honey from San Miguel, Cheese from Santa Cruz and buns and biscuits made in Arona town.  I slipped up by not taking the opportunity to buy some hand-made soap or sweets as I thought I could visit the following weekend. NOT SO!  It was a one-day only ‘happening’, which if I had missed it I would have been very disappointed.  Luckily, it will be repeated again on 28th March, but folks do not make plans for visiting at any other time as it won´t be around.  

Whilst we were shopping there was traditional music being played in the background that gave the whole area a fun and energised feeling that was obviously attracting lots of residents as well as tourists. We sometimes forget that Los Cristianos was not always a resort but a very old fishing town and that particular Saturday afternoon was like stepping back in time to see how possibly commerce was carried out during the 50s and 60s.

I am posting this now as both a reminder to myself and a heads up to anyone who missed the last event to get down to Los Cristianos between 10.00am and 6.00pm on the 28th and I will make sure I get those soaps, sweets and possibly some wine as a couple of people I know have birthdays coming up.

 

Step Through the Looking Glass and read the  Red Queen Musings

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Corned beef plate pie

I told you recently that I had been bought the Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds book and this is another of his tasty recipes that I would like to share.  Of course there are a couple of tweaks of my own that Paul would probably cringe at, but hey, ho! the result is still superb.

Ingredients

For the shortcrust pastry
Paul makes his own but of course, I use Mercadona ready-made

For the filling
1 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 large carrot, peeled and diced (I only had frozen but these seem to be okay)
1 large potato, peeled and cut into ½in dice
12oz tin corned beef, broken into large chunks
Splash Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
9fl oz beef stock – (Guess what I didn’t have any stock so used Bisto Onion Gravy mix

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Preparation method
Defrost the pastry and line a flan tin with 2/3rd.  Place the remaining 1/3rd to one side until the filling is ready then use to form the lid.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrot and potato and cook gently for 5–10 minutes or until soft but not coloured.

Stir in the corned beef, making sure it’s evenly distributed, then add the Worcestershire sauce, a drop of water, (or stock if you have it) and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so, until the carrots and potatoes are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Finally add salt and pepper to taste then leave to cool completely.

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Preheat the oven to 200C

Spoon the filling into the pastry-lined dish. Damp the edges of the pastry, then cover with the pastry lid. Crimp the edges together, then trim away the excess pastry.  Brush with beaten egg and make a couple of holes in the top to let the steam out.

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Bake for 30–35 minutes until golden brown. Leave to rest for 15–20

It was at this point that I added some Bisto Gravy mix to the pan I had cooked the filling in. Stir in all the bits stuck to the pan and add boiling water.  I kept this to one side just in case the pie was a bit on the dry side.

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Must See, Must Do in Tenerife

I have been a member of Tripadviser for ten years. With the number of posts and reviews I have made and the fact that I live here, it is frequently assumed that I am the oracle for all things Tenerife. Without exaggerating, I am asked weekly what are the ‘MUST DOs’ and despite regularly answering, with so much to see and do, I still find it difficult because the island is a world of contrasts with so much to discover.

Some say Tenerife is a land of mystery and legend with its uncertain origin somewhere in Atlantis, but legend aside, for me, Tenerife is paradise in a small area.

  • It has UNESCO World Heritage sites,
  • A National Park,
  • Numerous protected areas and of course,
  • its weather makes it the “Island of Eternal Spring”.

Nonetheless, here goes I will stick my neck out and list a few places that, in my opinion, should be on any “To Do List”.

Starting with the highest peak, Teide. It is the most visited National Park in Spain and the imposing mountain’s breathtaking landscape meant that in 2007 it was included in the World Heritage List of UNESCO. The more adventurous can opt for walking the network of trails that cross the park or climb to the peak. For the rest of us the cable car whisks you close to the top and offers spectacular panoramic views without too much walking.  There is a variety of volcanic cones, domes and lava flows as well as rich flora and fauna to enjoy and the romantic can watch the day break or the sun set over what must be one of the world’s most spectacular backdrops.

P NACIONAL TEIDE (25)

If you like walking, one of the oldest tracks on the island starts at Cruz del Carmen in the Anaga Rural Park.  The trail is so narrow in parts that you can only walk in single file as it winds through a series of bends down to the Llano de Los Loros where you get dramatic views of the northern coast. Halfway down you come to the hamlet of Chinamada where houses are hollowed out of the rock.

On the subject of walking, Masca reputed to have been a haven for pirates is a picturesque hamlet situated in the Teno Rural Park. Until recent years, life here was preserved due to the sheer difficulty of access to the village. The stunning scenery and deep ravines can be walked by the physically fit in a couple of hours. Once down and to avoid a tortuous climb back there is the option to take a boat to Los Gigantes. Most will be impressed with the views of the cliffs as they tumble into the sea and if you are lucky, there could also be sightings of dolphins and whales.  The south and southwest coast of Tenerife is a privileged place for whale watching  in the wild.  It is said you can spot different species but I have only ever seen pilot whales as there are colonies of these that live here all year round.

Moving on, I am going to ignore the resort towns of the south, people staying there will quickly learn it is easy to travel between these simply by walking along the seafront.  I am a little reluctant to advise anyone to spend too much time in the capital. Personally, I love it but Santa Cruz is like any other major city.  Unless you specifically want architecture, museums and shopping you could be almost anywhere. If you do decide to visit, there are stunning views of the Auditorio and the relatively new Palmetum as well as the César Manrique Maritime Park if you want to sunbathe.  From the parking area it looks nice with plenty of amenities, but as I don´t search out the sun, I’ve not been in.

Santa Cruz

In contrast I would have no hesitation in recommending the historic centre of La Laguna it is a joy to walk around.  For me it has a very different vibe to Santa Cruz and is easy to get to, as you pick up the tram in Santa Cruz and it takes you directly to the centre. So click the link and find out what is there.

Things to do in Tenerife, La Laguna

Staying on the northern side of the island you can visit another resort, Puerto de la Cruz. It sadly has a reputation for “being full of pensioners” I haven´t particularly noticed, but being a pensioner I wouldn’t would I?   The attractions are mature rather than frivolous so seem to back this up with lots of gardens and plenty of small squares for people watching. Suits me – I am a great people watcher. However, the town also has Loro Park and the Lake Martiánez complex an unmistakable design of César Manrique.  So whilst it isn´t Veronicas Strip there is enough to keep even a youngster amused.

Puerto (4)

Puerto has a good bus service that will quickly take you to several easy reach places, including La Orotava (a bit of a tourist trap) Buenavista (great if you like cakes as there is El Aderno, one of the famous bakeries on the island) and of course Garachico.

Garachico declared an “Historic Site” back in 1994 is a traditional Canarian town and the golden age of its colonial past can be discovered walking around its ancient buildings. There is a suggested route here.  After admiring the churches, convents and houses you can enjoy a meal in one of the many restaurants and if the weather is kind perhaps a dip the natural pools known as El Caletón.

Main square Garachico

My list would not be complete unless I mentioned El Medano.  As many know one of my FAVOURITE places. Originally a fishing village, it has the longest beach on the island which is much loved by many, particularly the young and sporty crowd, as due to the usually windy conditions the town is a Mecca for both amateur and professional water sports enthusiasts predominantly windsurfers or kite surfers.  El Medano is one of those towns where you can escape the crowds but never feel isolated as there are plenty of restaurants serving good Canarian food and with a cold beer to beat the heat of the day a nice spot to continue with the people watching.

El Medano (19)

On an island like Tenerife, you probably want to visit a beach or two.  Whether you want tranquillity or fun, dark volcanic or soft golden sand there is plenty to choose from. For those who want to escape the tourist areas and enjoy some quiet time, in the north, Benijo with its large black sand beach is consider by some to be one of the most beautiful in all the Canary Islands.  The sea is clean, but it is not always advisable to swim due to currents and strong waves that sometimes break against the shore. Nevertheless it is a sublime setting.

In the south, I can´t omit my Shirley Valentine  beach at El Puertitom the small fishing village that lies between the cliffs close to Playa Paraiso. Hotels have bypassed the village leaving it untouched and traditional and all you will find is a smattering of whitewashed houses including one in a cave, a church, a bar and very little else apart from the brightly coloured boats that bob on the clear sea.  From here you can swim, fish and dive with the turtles that live in the waters close to shore and only 20 minutes from Las Americas.  An oasis of calm, this romantic bay is yet another face of Tenerife.

Another of my favourite hideaways is Abades a small village where most of the houses are painted white. There is almost no tourism but the small plaza by the sea offers 2 or 3 bars. The beach is usually empty and the sand is golden, lapped by turquoise waters making it a heavenly spot.

And for those who prefer the tourist amenities within stretching distance of your sun bed, enjoy Las Vistas, La Pinta and El Duque.  These along with others are part of a continuous succession of impressive beaches where the swimming conditions are always optimal as breakwaters protect from the waves and the backdrop is picture postcard perfect with La Gomera sitting on the horizon.

These are just a tiny selection of the places to enjoy in this jewel of the Atlantic.  I am sure anyone reading this will be able to add several more but Tenerife is one of those destinations where there is so much to discover that you just want to return time after time.

Step Through the Looking Glass and read the  Red Queen Musings

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What do you think?

Is social media a good thing or a bad thing? I suppose the answer depends on how you perceive it and how you use it. When Facebook and Twitter were still in their infancy, I didn’t see what the attraction was.  In fact, I still saw them as pointless until probably last year. And while I wouldn’t say I love them, I do enjoy peeping in most days to see what is happening beyond my own little world. However, as with anything, social media comes with its ups and downs and based on my usage I have compiled a list. (Ask any member of my family they will tell you I am a great list maker!!)

The Positives

Friends and Relations: – From what I can gather, social networks originally started as a place to connect with your friends and relations especially if they live far away. Some of us have found old friends from many years ago, as with my American friend Kat, and it is good to see what is happening in their lives even when we can´t meet personally. But you can also make new friends by connecting with friends of friends.

Kindred Spirits: – It is surprising that some of your ‘friends’ –  you know those you accepted or accepted you because you know them by sight, or are friends of friends, suddenly turn into people who are just like you. You realise you have the same likes and dislikes in fact so many things in common. These are the acquaintances that you suddenly realise are ‘actual friends’.

Of course the reverse is also true, someone you thought you knew, over time show they are only a user and once they have drained you dry you are of no further use. Only then do you see how shallow they really are as they try to scale the local social ladder.
There is though a simple solution – unfriend, life is too short to waste on these people.

Business Opportunities or Marketing: – To many this has become crucial as it is a cost-effective way to raise awareness of their business or promote their products to a potentially huge audience. Businesses both large and small have noticed the value of social networks and are shifting towards this type of marketing and best of all – It’s free - Always a good thing….

However for me the most important thing is that the time I spend on these sites is fun!

The Negatives

All Talk, No Action: – It’s a trend to get likes and shares and to spread the word about all sorts of things.  Some are fun, like music, images or quizzes. (I look forward to my daily dose of quiz questions).  Others make me cross, these are usually the charities and fundraising challenges. While it is fine in concept to highlight the subject, if an issue is important enough to talk about taking action – get off your butt and take real action.

Rants and Tirades: – When it comes to politics, religion or anything personal, discussion can quickly get contentious. I am all for free speech but these are delicate topics and it is easy for conversations to turn personal or offensive. Similarly, there are people who judge too quickly, too harshly or unfairly based on “superficial” information.  I often find myself laughing because often the most vitriolic comments are misplaced as the person has not read the thread correctly or does not understand or missed the point!

Of course in this section you cannot ignore the jumped-up person who thinks they are more important than they really are the only one with a valid opinion.  This type of person often makes the cryptic comments that the rest of us mere mortals think What the Heck? I think they are desperate for ‘friends’ to query and be interested in hearing the response. 

Everything’s a drama: – OMG must be the most over-used acronym on the planet.  Without it, 75% of posts would not exist. There just doesn’t seem any other way of expressing feelings.

I can happily ignore all the above, in fact, I had to think hard to find these negatives even though I am guilty on most counts, but this one really grates.

I find the atrocious grammar, punctuation and spelling appalling. The excuse is usually predictive text, but do people never read what they are saying before pressing the send button?  For me this image sums it up nicely

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Perhaps there could be a business opportunity for someone  offering a course on how to construct a post that others can read and understand, but then again, does anyone care?

Did I miss anything?  If I did and you would like to add your opinions, then put them in the comments below or drop me an email.  

 

Image courtesy of IDA
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When in Spain…. Pan Con Tomate

The humble tapas used to be considered nothing more than a simple bar snack but it seems recently that everyone who comes on holiday to Tenerife wants to know where they can try tapas and it is now seeing a boom with an influx of modern cafes and bars setting up all over the southern resorts, particularly in Los Cristianos.

As Tenerife, is known for its tomatoes, naturally we eat quite a lot and one of the simplest ways to prepare what I suppose is actually ‘tapas’ is to serve on bread.  I like a tomato buttie but I just LOVE a tostado it is also a good way of using up yesterdays baguette.

INGREDIENTS – SERVES 2

Baguette, or  Rustic-Style Bread
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 very ripe large tomato
Coarse sea salt, and black pepper to taste

(If using a baguette then cut into 4-5 inches long pieces, then, slice horizontally, as you would when making a sandwich. If you are using a rounder, wider type of bread, slice off one “end” that will have lots of crust and set aside for another use. Then slice the rest of the loaf into pieces about ¾ inch thick.)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat grill in the oven.
  2. Put bread on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and toast until golden brown on each side.
  3. Rub garlic over cut surface of bread
  4. Either grate the tomato with a hand grater but make sure you have one with an integrated bowl as it could get messy, or pop it into your blender for a quick zizz with a pinch of black pepper.
  5. Spoon grated tomato onto toast and sprinkle with sea salt.

Nothing could be simpler and so delicious.

 

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The Cats of Turkey

There are a lot of cats in Turkey. At every stop we made tourists would first stop to take pictures of them and almost as an afterthought, realise they should also capture the amazing ancient sites, which was after all the purpose of our visit.

The cats turned into an unexpected highlight of our holiday and each stop we looked out to see how many we could spot. They all seemed well cared for and wherever they congregated, you would find containers of food that people had put out for them.

Between the three of us, we took lots of cat pictures, unusual as we are normally doggie rather than cat people, but these were just so cute.  We saw quite a few dogs who were also well looked after, but the cats outnumbered them and below are just a few of my favourites.

 

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El Camaleón – Adeje, Tenerife

Perhaps it is something about the socio-economics of Barranco of Torres that has meant that as far as memory serves never has a restaurant sustained beyond a few months.  Most people know that in an area that has nothing but supermarkets, DIY stores and cash and carry warehouses it would be exceptionally hard to survive. It is therefore quite disorientating to see that yet another has set up in what turns out to be a HUGE establishment.  So who are these brave – perhaps foolish restaurateurs? Step forward the people of El Camaleón.

The interior is made up of a cosy restaurant decorated in warm colours enhanced by cool slate.  The large bar is stylish as well as being slightly rustic and there is a covered outside area that will be nice on summer nights when the awnings are open and there is no need for heaters.  Although having said that, the view is of a roundabout and the car park to the Adeje Music School so a long way from picturesque. The result however is congenial enough but when we visited, it was quiet and some way short on atmosphere.

The food was decent enough, especially given that it is very much in the same vein as many others – the price however is one-step away from give away. As well as an à la carte menu, there is a specials list that includes meat, seafood, pizzas and pastas where each meal is just €3.60.

We were a group of four and as it was a cold evening, we went for the homemade French Onion soup, which was delicious. The garlic mushrooms, which are different to the champiñones al ajillo (I never did understand what the difference was apart from the price!) and the fried camembert with blackcurrant jam that was colossal and couldn’t be finished.  We all chose our main courses from the €3.60 menu and each of us had chicken in various forms apart from Jim who chose the pork loin.  These are not small plates, they are main meal portions that come with rice, chips or Canarian potatoes and whilst they might never be considered high end, they are nevertheless tasty and honest if a little underwhelming.

The staff and young proprietor were welcoming. The service, managed to achieve that combination of efficiency twinned with friendliness that many eateries often seem to find so difficult.

As things had turned out, we left both full and happy.  Our meal including a couple of beers, a tia maria and coke, a couple of soft drinks plus two coffees and a barraquito came to just €52.  As they say, cheap as chips…. And with a bit of a crowd, the setting might even seem quite jolly.

For daily weather updates in South Tenerife check out Queenie’s blog
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Slow Cooker – Spotted Dick

Regular readers know that OH loves his puddings and as the wind was howling outside, we were halfway through the recent Calima, I thought a traditional steamed pudding would go down a treat, however I didn’t have a recipe and don’t even have a steamer. I decided to see what could be done, if anything, in the Slow Cooker that I bought whilst in the UK at Christmas. Fortunately Google came to the rescue, telling me puddings are easy in a SC and even supplied a recipe (needless to say I have tweaked it a little) for a good old fashioned Spotted Dick.

It takes less than 10 minutes to get all the ingredients out of the cupboard and mix.  Then pop into the slow cooker on high for around 3 hours.

Ingredients
250g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon (I added this as I like a bit of spice)
125g shredded suet
180g currants
80g caster sugar (I used brown as I also like a darker pudding)
finely grated zest 1 lemon *
finely grated zest 1 small orange  *
150ml whole milk, plus 2-3 tbsp

Instructions
Combine all ingredients.  Now I didn’t have either an orange or a lemon but I did have flavourings that I picked up in Lidl.  These come in tiny bottles and you only need a drop as the flavour is strong.  They are brilliant.

Line the base of a well-greased 1 litre pudding basin, add the mixture and cover.   Place in the slow cooker and add water until it comes halfway up the bowl. Put the lid on and cook on high for around 3 hours.

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To serve lashings of custard.

 

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Folelé – A Family Affair – Los Cristianos, Tenerife

Walking through Los Cristianos a short while ago I spotted what I thought was a new restaurant near the harbour at Plaza Pescadora. Being my usual nosy self, I sauntered up, looked at the menu and realised everything on it was Canarian! There was no sign of the customary chicken, chips and salad, or pizza and pasta that many tourists crave and naturally, a large number of restaurants are happy to serve up.  Folelé was the real thing, the menu was filled with genuine Canarian food such as Ropa Vieja or goat stew and for those who enjoy a tipple with their food, meals can be washed down with a fine selection of Canarian wines.

As the waiter was setting up tables for the lunchtime rush, I asked if I could take photos then said to him

“Are you new?
“No, we have been there three years in March” he said.

How embarrassing, I felt myself blushing so let him think I was a tourist so didn´t know the area. Instead, the reality is I must have walked past hundreds of times and never noticed the restaurant. It is located next-door to Subway, so I probably assumed it was more of the same. (Well that’s my excuse).

Jim and I wandered inside and spoke with what turned out to be the owner and his family.  The owners, brother and sister are from La Gomera, the head chef is the son and mother and father help with the cooking of the mojos and the papas arrugadas, a real family affair.

There is a small section to the rear of the simple but stylish restaurant where you can buy local Canarian produce such as honey, gofio and mojos.

There are those who criticise the southern resorts as having nothing authentic or traditional to offer. It shows they either don´t know what they are talking about or resent the popularity of the south. Los Cristianos has as much authenticity as the north if you know where to look.  And, as a local if I can miss it then tourists need to be pointed in the right direction.  Therefore, to make up for my lack of observation, I will be eating in Folelé in the near future and telling everyone about it.

Step Through the Looking Glass and read the  Red Queen Musings

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Where East Meets West – Istanbul, Turkey

Sadly, our visit is ending – we sit in a cafe in Istanbul drinking apple tea, listening to the street sounds, feeling the crowds and crossing paths with strangers on this trip where east meets west. The city evaporates before us, we have taken pictures, lots of pictures as evidence that we were here and that these fleeting moments actually existed as looking back it seems like a dream.

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I said at the beginning of this road trip when we arrived in Istanbul our hotel was the original we stayed in 20 years previously and it was a nice place to start and end our journey.  Although memories fade and exact locations were a little vague, we were aware that in order to visit many of the sights we would have to walk across the Galata Bridge, which was just steps from our hotel. The bridge spans the Golden Horn – in one direction Asia in the other Europe.  I could remember that the Galata tower was at one end and the Spice Market at the other. However, what I had forgotten was the fishermen who stand shoulder-to-shoulder and line every inch of the bridge and having to dodge their lines as they cast off totally ignoring the throngs of passers-by in their pursuit of catching fish.

The city of Istanbul never fails to deliver in terms of things to do, cultural experiences or attractions.  One of our first group meeting points was The Pudding Shop.  Today the restaurant resembles little of what it once was. For those of us who were hippies in the 1960s it was known as the place where travellers would meet to follow the hippie trail and associated with the counter-culture of the times.  For those who are too young to remember they may have seen it in the film Midnight Express.  As it was, we met at the Pudding Shop because of its location within spitting distance of both the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.  These we would visit as a group but we would be left to our own devices when it came to the markets.  Nobody is foolish enough to even try and keep a group of 40 people together in the maze of lanes and alleyways that make up these attractions.

Cafe

The Spice Bazaar

Not its real name, centuries ago, goods were brought from Egypt to the market and it was then and still is today officially called the Egyptian Bazaar, however Spice Bazaar gives a better indication of what to expect in the way of sights, sounds, colours and smells in this ancient shopping complex. It may be a tourist trap where there are spices, teas and aphrodisiacs aplenty to be bought, but I enjoyed the experience.  Perhaps one of the highlights for me of exploring this part of the city was sampling unusual, edible and exotics fruits that the salesmen were happy to let you taste before parting with your money.  This is where I got a taste for dried strawberries (not particularly exotic but very delicious)  – now I know exactly what to look for when shopping in Al Campo!

Grand Bazaar

A short walk through the ancient alleyways and winding lanes will lead you to the Grand Bazaar. This is not your average shopping trip. It is like no other market you have ever experienced.  There are more than three thousand stores packed into a warren of over 60 streets. You are guaranteed to get lost, at the very least disorientated but that is all part of the fun.  The Bazaar is like a mini city with restaurants, banks, a police station, even a mosque.  Whatever you desire, you will find here, whether it is books, furniture, food or a million other things.

You find beautiful carpets hang at the entrance to one stall while a myriad of colourful lamps hang from the ceiling of another. Mountains of cheap dresses and shirts are piled high next to the man sipping apple tea and plying quality gold and silver. On another stall, a stack of glittering trinkets and the scent from a tower of hand-made soaps wafts through the crowd.  Beautiful leather handbags in every colour imaginable line the walls and windows of the shops in the leather section.  It is only when you show interest in purchasing and start to haggle over the prices you realise which is the genuine item and which is the almost impossible to identify imitation.  Every day around 400,000 people pass through one of the small stone arches into the labyrinth looking for bargains.  True bargains are very hard to find, if they exist at all.  But you don´t have to shop just go to explore and enjoy the experience.

And after the spinning head not knowing which way to turn, and the exhilaration of haggling, we moved on to another aspect of the city.  Turkey has always been a melting pot of culture and religion as reflected by the two great buildings that look across the crowded Sultan Ahmed Square at each other ….

Continued Page 2

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