Our Market Guys

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck
On our very first visit to the weekly Burhaniye Market, we stumbled through with mouths agape.

Not only at its size in relation to the small town surrounding, but in the quality of the offerings and the tidiness. Mounds of fresh fruit and vegetables were piled in perfect pyramids. We wandered through the many rows trying to find the freshest looking produce but could not really find fault anywhere, it all looked so incredible.

We were armed with a couple of reusable shopping bags, a scant list of what we needed, and a Turkish/English dictionary. Everyone we bought from was courteous and very patient as we thumbed through the pages to find the right words. We came away successfully having knocked off all the items on our list and then some, our bags overflowed and even contained new items we were excited to try.

For our second outing, we were better equipped. Four shopping bags (one for each hand), and a detailed list with the corresponding Turkish words written beside them. We knew how to say all the numbers from one to ten. We had a pocketful of change. And a camera.

Eyebrows were raised and hands were shook – we had impressed our vegetable guys.

We wandered through the stalls again, mesmerized by the colors of the produce, our stomachs rumbling in agreement. At the end of the first row, we came upon the same vendors we had bought veggies from the previous week.

A flash of recognition came across their faces.

And then, puzzlement.

Being completely off the tourist trail, we were met with some curiosity the first week, but it was surely nothing they hadn’t seen before. But the second week? They couldn’t understand why we were still around.

“Pansyion? Hotel?” One of the vendors asked, wondering where we were staying. I flipped through the dictionary to find the word for friend, thinking it easier to explain then the concept of housesitting. Next I said the word for three () and looked up the word for months (ay).

Eyebrows were raised and hands were shook – we had impressed them. Suddenly, Pete and I were each handed glasses of tea.


We continued trying to chat, exchanging the few words we knew in each other’s language. Extra peppers were charitably added to our already full bags.

That was it. We had new friends, and they’d won our loyalty. We’d be back next week, and we’d head straight to our “Veggie Guys“.

Our “Cheese Guys” were equally generous with samples and pleasantries on seeing us again.


Our “Spice Guy” had an amazing array of samples and patiently answered our questions of them.

(Incidentally, this is NOT our “Cauliflower Guy“…) 🙂


48 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • March 26 2012

    Gorgeous photos! Looks like you’re on your way to making some great Turkish ‘Friends’!

    • March 27 2012

      We’ve been blessed with a few good ones already! We’re so happy to be here!

  • March 26 2012

    How delightful! Turkish hospitality is quite something. My experience from spending a few days in Istanbul is that buying from somebody leads to making a new friend. You can tell me more about that already – I am intrigued to see how this develops over the course of 3 months!

    • March 27 2012

      So are we Karl! The home owners may have a hard time getting us out of their house… 🙂

  • March 26 2012

    I’m going to Turkey in May, can’t wait to check out the markets and meet and greet the locals. May need to work on my Turkish though!
    Natasha recently posted..Glampacker’s best cafes in Perth, Western Australia

    • March 27 2012

      It really depends on where you are planning to go – a lot of people know English in the touristy places. But I find it is always fun to know some of the local language anyways – the locals are always so surprised when I use it! 🙂

  • Ter
    March 26 2012

    Look at all of that fresh produce…..drool….

    I’m super jealous!

    • March 27 2012

      I KNOW. That’s what happens when you’re in one of the most fertile areas in the world I guess. The produce here is incredible. Can’t wait for all the new fruit to start coming out.

  • March 26 2012

    Impressed at how neat everything looks. That’s one organized market!

    • March 27 2012

      We have never seen a market so tidy and organized. It’s incredible!

  • Aafke
    March 26 2012

    Best market guys ever…and of course one of the first words to learn in a new language is the word for bloemkool. Seriously, I like this post because it shows how special slow traveling can be.

    • March 27 2012

      Cauliflower = bloemkool = karnabahar…it’s a fun word in every language!

  • Such great pictures– I love making market friends! Take advantage of the saffron and those amazing mandarin oranges. Love this blog btw!

    • March 27 2012

      Thanks Lauren! We’ve never used saffron before (it’s SO expensive back home), but we’ll have to find a recipe to try it with while we are here. 🙂

  • I love me some local markets! Great shots!!!

    • March 27 2012

      Thanks Andi! We love them as welL!

  • March 26 2012

    It all looks so colorful and delicious! And I love that you now have “veggie guys” and “cheese guys.” 🙂
    Amanda recently posted..14 Fun Facts About Iceland

    • March 27 2012

      That is one of the best things of slow travel. Finding our “guys”! 🙂

  • Sabrina
    March 26 2012

    Love the pictures! How fun when you’re able to stand out to the locals and they actually remember you.

    • March 27 2012

      There aren’t many foreigners in this neck of the woods, I guess we are easy to pick out. 🙂

  • March 27 2012

    How “New York” is it to walk around saying “I’ve got a guy for that”? Actually it sounds a little more New Jersey-ish, but that’s splitting hairs.
    If you happen upon a chocolate guy, let me know.
    Steve recently posted..Is Spokane Airport Viable from Kelowna?

    • March 27 2012

      Haha, must have picked up that terminology while we were in NY then! We are still working on finding our perfect baklava “guy” here.

  • Erik
    March 26 2012

    Markets are great places to meet people & take photographs. You can also see some really interesting characters.

    • March 27 2012

      Truth. We look forward to going every week!

  • March 27 2012

    I think this is a really great example of what fun you can have if you make the effort to speak the local language, and an even better example of how the locals appreciate your effort.

    Looks like you had a fruitful day all round.
    Bodlagz recently posted..Pattaya Naklua Beach

    • March 28 2012

      Thanks! We always try to learn some of the language for that exact reason. 🙂

  • Ali
    March 27 2012

    I love markets! And so much better when it actually makes sense for you to buy food their. Glad you’re making some friends!

    • March 28 2012

      Thanks Ali! We love markets too, and going every Monday is one of the big highlights of our week!

  • March 27 2012

    I love markets. There are plenty in France too, although they are a fairly touristy, and not exactly cheap, option. Fun to explore though.. although I’ve not got myself a cauliflower guy yet 😉
    Laurence recently posted..In photos: Australian beaches

    • March 28 2012

      Yeah, we’re still looking for our cauliflower guy too – haha 🙂

  • Laura
    March 27 2012

    You two look like you are having tons of fun. I wonder who long it will take you to become fluent in Turkish 😉

    • March 28 2012

      Oh boy, I’m not sure we will ever become fluent. It is a difficult language and we definitely don’t practice enough! But, we are picking up enough to get by!

  • March 27 2012

    Turkey is so photogenic!

  • March 28 2012

    what a vibrant array of fruit!
    Maria D. recently posted..Hong Kong on the Cheap

  • March 28 2012

    Fun experience and great pictures.
    rashmi recently posted..Hong Kong on the Cheap

  • March 28 2012

    Sounds you too have settled in straight away. Love the photos. I get the feeling that you are one of the locals now and it may be hard to leave!!

    • March 28 2012

      Yes, this will be a tough one to leave. We just went away for the weekend and missed the dogs! We were also sad to have missed the market on Monday. (Good thing these home owners plan on needing housesitters a lot, we may just be back!)

  • March 28 2012

    Great you have such a good time in Turkey! I love this country, the people, the markets and the FOOD. OMG, can you please go and have an Adana Kebab for me? And some yoghurt with mint?
    Yvonne recently posted..To tell or not to tell – The secrets of a travel blogger

    • March 29 2012

      I will eat all of those things. Just for you. (Well, maybe for me too :))

  • PrudenceLee
    March 29 2012

    Nice shots. Seems like you’re a photographer. Anyways, It’s good to know that there are such people like you who gives much effort to discover their language and learn them. Appreciating their culture and way of life is a big thing. 🙂

    • March 29 2012

      We try to do our best with the camera! We also try to do that is much as possible when we travel – learning the language and appreciating the culture – it is the most rewarding!

  • April 2 2012

    Nice article! I’m glad the locals warmed up to you guys. And the photos are amazing! I love fruits so I was pretty much drooling when I saw your shot of those oranges.
    Alexa Meisler recently posted..A Cheese Cave, Wine Tasting and French Food in Baja

  • April 3 2012

    But cauliflower guy looks so cool! So jealous but thankfully only 3 weeks until we arrive in Turkey. Unfortunately only knocking out the tourist trails!

  • April 3 2012

    That is totally awesome. I used to go to the market enough in Freiburg to know the lady who sold the dried nuts and fruits. I went back a while back and she remembered me and asked about my wedding and stuff. It feels good to be known.
    Andrew recently posted..History vs Story – Indie Travel Challenge

    • April 4 2012

      It feels incredible to be known! This week we went back to our veggie guys and one told us that he saw us in a nearby town and waved frantically but we totally didn’t hear or see him (oops!)

  • April 21 2012

    I found a great place for rice and beans in Granada, Nicaragua. I was taken there first by a local, and then just kept going back every day for a month solo. It was not on the tourist trail of places to eat in town and the owners quickly embraced me-serving my meal to me without even asking what I wanted after a while. it was awesome!

    • Pete
      April 24 2012

      Those are the BEST! When they just know what you want and like and it becomes family. Thanks for sharing Claire.

  • May 4 2012

    Amazing! To me this is exactly what travel should be … meeting and friending locals like this. I bet the food must be so fresh and delicious.

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