Merhaba, Would you like to buy a carpet?

Trip Start Feb 10, 2006
Trip End Mar 07, 2006

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

This morning we had a delicious breakfast at the hotel looking out onto the Bosporus. We walked down to Taksim Square and hailed a couple of Taxis. I loaded Christina, Heather and Paul into a taxi and told them to take them to the Grand Bazaar. I told our driver the same thing. We were dropped out front in a hive of touts. I knew that if we were going to have a good time I would have to find a way to navigate the touts. 

An Older man with a white beard was the first tout to approach us. So I explained to him that we were in Turkey to meet the wonderful people and see the wonderful sites. I explained that we weren't here to shop like many tourist are. Then I said, "So how can I get across to the salesmen that I am REALLY not interested, in a way that is not rude?" He smiled sweetly and replied "just say Tesekkür" He followed that quickly with are you sure you aren't interested in a carpet. " I grinned and said "Tesekkür" He smiled and nodded and moved on to someone else. 

The Grand Bazaar is a huge maze of people, silver, textiles and colored glass. It is alive with activity and color, a regular smorgasbord for the eyes and ears. The Turkish shop owners are so funny. The Turkish people in general have such a great sense of humor. As you pass through the Bazaar each shop owner takes his turn at trying to get you into his shop. Some will make eye contact with you and point to the floor. When you look down, his finger floats over into his shop. Others will say "Hello I guess that it is my turn" as the previous salesmen gives up.

Tesekkür is the magic word and touts have stopped being a problem. It is met with a smile and a nod. They might try twice but not the pushy sale that we experienced the first day. I knew that there had to be a way that was not rude and I am so pleased that I found it. I admire their persistence. After all, you have thousands of shops that sell the same things so those that are trying to eek out a living have to work very hard, especially if their shop isn't on the main tourist path. 

We haven't totally ignored supporting the Turkish economy while we are here. We have been enjoying the food and drink of Turkey and we did buy a few trinkets to take back home. We bought some Pashminas and some little bracelets and change purses for family members. I would love to be able to afford one of the beautiful light fixtures or a real Turkish Carpet but we are able to travel because we are frugal both at home and abroad.  

Our next stop was the Spice Market. This is market that is full of spices and tea. The olfactory senses are overloaded with the smell of incense, tea, and spices. Upon entering the spice market we found Develi Spices. As we started to shop the owners sent for tea. There are men all over the Bazaars that run around with trays full of tea and coffee. The owners call for them and they bring you tea. I love this tradition. The tea was delicious. We bought a couple of bags of tea each. This will be such a great way of enjoying our trip for months to come. 

We really like these guys. They had so much fun with us. They talked Heather and I into putting on Turkish eyeliner. Christina even refused to come into the shop. Her discomfort in Turkey is so thick you could cut it with a knife. I am so surprised because Christina and I had no problems when it was just the two of us in Italy and Germany. I guess this is just too far outside of her comfort zone. She has done nothing to hide her distaste of Turkey.

We ended up back near the area around the Hippodrome and decided to eat at a restaurant called Omar's. We were just passing by when the attractive man out front encouraged us to sit down. We were to find out that his name was Fatih.  It was a beautiful day and he sat us down at the tables outside. 

The restaurant was beautiful with rich colors and thousands of glass Turkish chandeliers. There were paintings or prints of harems that looked to have been painted in the Victorian era. Our waiter was Çon, (pronounced John). The food was fantastic. We had a little Raki, a Turkish version of Sambucco. Too many bad experiences with other similar alcohols and Cory and I couldn't quite choke ours down. Paulie quickly volunteered to drink ours.

We were really having a great time. All of the Turkish people we have met have had a wonderful sense of humor. We were sitting enjoying our meal and a local cat thought it should check things out, just in case there were some leftovers. It was on the fence right behind Christina and Heather. Jeremiah decided to give the girls a start an pretended that the cat had leaped. He grabbed the back of Christina's head. The eyes bugged out of her head and she screamed. We all laughed our butts off. All of the laughter had attracted a crowd. The Cat made its way under the table and started to try to cough up a hairball on my table. Again we dissolved into laughter as I cried out "not on my shoe, not the shoe!"

One of the locals had come over to Fatih who spoke fluent English. He had a leather shop a few shops down and wanted to bring one of his leather jackets over for me to try on. There are some things in another country that you don't quite understand. It didn't totally come across as him just wanting to sell something but I don't know any other reason why you would do that. Anyway he brought over  a beautiful jacket. I put it on and played it big.... Run way style. The entire staff ,The leather sales man, and our table were laughing so hard as I strutted and twirled. There didn't seem to be any disappointment when we didn't buy a jacket so I am still wondering what that was all about.

There are those people that you meet on trips that become special to you immediately. The men in Develi Spice shop and the ones at Omar's are topping that list here in Turkey.

After stuffing ourselves and getting a little tipsy we started to stroll in the direction of the cistern. We were diverted by a carpet salesman. Cory and I had talked about getting a carpet while in Turkey thinking that we could get a higher quality carpet at a much lower price. This was the first tout that actually got us into a shop. 

It was a beautiful shop and the hospitality was a little on the line of Pretty Woman where she goes in and they bring her champagne and will sell her anything including the tie that they are wearing. My friends and I can't afford to shop in the United States in the kind of shop that caters to you, so this kind of hospitality is strange for us. They asked if we wanted coffee or tea. This was going to be our first Turkish Coffee.

We sat down and the salesmen started to roll out carpets, one after the other, giving the type of carpet that it was, Carpets that were Anatolian, hand woven, wool. They were all beautiful and we would have loved to have one in our home but when we started to talk price it was well out of our price range. I guess we were foolish in thinking that we could get a real Turkish Carpet for the price of one at Sam's. They started to try to bargain and asked what we would be willing to pay. Cory told them that he didn't want to insult them. We weren't wealthy and what we would be able to pay wasn't nearly enough for the carpet. They insisted on knowing what we were willing to pay. When Cory told them the surprise hinted that Cory might have hit exactly their cost for the carpet but not enough to make any profit. The Salesman apologized and said that yes that wasn't enough.

The funny thing is that though Cory and I, the ones that went into the shop to look at carpets, didn't buy a carpet, the shop made two sales anyway. Paulie, after having a few raki at lunch, bought a beautiful Anatolian carpet and Jeremiah bought a more modern pattern made from the pieces of older carpets. Paulie didn't bargain too much but Jeremiah brought the price down nicely. Bargaining is an art and one that i have not mastered. I am getting better though. 

These guys were amazing. They were able to wrap Paul and Jeremiahs carpets into this tiny little package and then put it in a little case smaller than most purses.

They had brought us Turkish coffee and we were all full from lunch. No one was drinking it. I drank mine. It was fabulous and I had a new love, Turkish Coffee!!!!! They bring out coffee as an offering of friendship. Those 5 other cups sitting there full seemed to almost thumb their noses at the hospitality that was offered. When the salesmen were distracted I did 5 more shots of Turkish coffee. At this point I can almost feel the caffeine flowing through my system. Turkish coffee is even stronger than Italian Espresso. Wow. Right now I think that I could actually fly back to the hotel. Who needs a cab?

I did get us a couple of cabs. I put the girls and Paulie in their cab and then got our cab. By the time that we got back to Taksim Square they had not only lost another 50 bucks to the cab driver but they had left their packages from the spice market in the cab. Again, we didn't have a problem. The three of us started to wonder what they were doing differently. We decided that we were going to split up our trio tomorrow and find out why they keep getting taken and we don't.

We decided that after another Taxi Thief incident that we needed a night of relaxation. We stopped by a liquor shop and picked up some rum and sodas and headed back to the room. The boys had a massage scheduled for the evening but we decided to start relaxing early.

Somewhere in the bonding process we decided that we needed some sustenance. The boys headed out to Taksim square to pick up some food and more rum. Even take out in Turkey is fantastic. We sat in the floor of our room and drank and ate to our hearts content. We ended the evening back in the pool and in the sauna. What a great way to end the day.
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