Our Market Guys

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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.


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“…) 🙂


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  1. 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!

  2. 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!

    1. 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! 🙂

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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. 🙂

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

  5. 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.

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

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

  7. 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.

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

  9. 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 😉

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

    1. 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!

  11. 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!!

    1. 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!)

  12. 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?

  13. 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. 🙂

    1. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

    1. 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!)

  16. 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!

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

  17. 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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