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<   No. 3349   2014-09-14    

Comic #3349

1 {photo of Spitalfields Market, London}
1 Caption: Markets

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Poll: How heavy/light do you pack for travel (say for a few weeks)?

When travelling, I like to visit the usual major tourist attractions. They're usually attractions for a reason and well worth a look, even if a bit crowded. After that you have a choice of several lesser sights further down the list. One thing I always look for is a market.

Porta Portese
Porta Portese market, Rome.

Markets are colourful places, full of the bustle of local people going about their business, whether that be the business of selling or merely the act of picking up a few fresh groceries on the way home for that evening's dinner. The marketplace offers a concentrated cross section of the goods available in a culture or community, and a good place to buy some of them if you're so inclined, all within easy walking distance.

Mercado de Pulgas
Mercado de Pulgas (flea market), Lima.

There are many different sorts of markets, and all hold their charms. The fresh produce market contains the colours and shapes of fruits and vegetables, which make captivating subjects for photography. In a foreign land, often some of the produce will be unfamiliar and exotic. You can try fresh tropical fruit, or strange vegetables. And even if not, you can pick up some apples or bananas for a cheap snack.

Bounty of the jungle
Tropical fruits, Puerto Maldonado.

Fish markets offer the briny equivalent for coastal locations, displaying the catch of the day from the local fishing fleet. Again, some of the seafood available may be different and interesting in its own right. The sights and sounds and smells combine to create an experience which remains vivid in the mind and a valuable mental memento of your trip.

No, that one!
Mercato del pesce, Venice.

Local artisans often sell their wares at markets. These can range from trinkets and decorations, through practical items such as cookware and clothing, to works of art. You can haggle and get a bargain if you try, or you can just wander around and be amazed at the craftsmanship and the interesting designs and patterns.

Santiago market
Artisan market, Santiago.

Then there are used goods and antiques markets, which offer tantalising glimpses into the past. You can spot almost anything in one of these places if you try. Old books, posters, record albums, clothing, furniture, artwork. If you are lucky you can find boxes of personal items such as postcards or photos, which can be a real treasure trove - the recorded memories of people from another generation.

Chansons Francais
Old records, Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen, Paris.

My favourite might be food markets. Contrasted against fresh produce and seafood, the food market bustles with delicious treats which are mostly ready to eat. Stalls preparing hot local delicacies or offering tempting sweets are a marvellous way to experience what a place has to offer. Often other markets will have a cluster of food stalls somewhere, for shoppers to pick up a snack or a meal. Or you could buy some freshly baked bread, a chunk of cheese, perhaps some slices of cold meat, and assemble yourself a makeshift sandwich as you browse. Follow up with chocolates or cakes or whatever the local specialty is.

Charcuterie et Fromage Corse
Meats and cheeses, Marché Richard-Lenoir, Paris.

Wherever you are travelling, a wander through a marketplace is a wonderful experience.

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Last Modified: Sunday, 14 September 2014; 03:08:39 PST.
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