We started off the morning eating breakfast in the hotel. Can you see a pattern? This morning they had potatoes, which made me incredibly happy, because they were so good. I'm quite impressed with this hotel so far, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who came to Istanbul (it's the Hotel Nena, in case you're wondering). The people are extremely helpful and pleasant, the rooms are nice, and the food is tasty.
Anyway, now that I've given a free plug to the hotel...over breakfast we decided that we would go to the Grand Bazaar today, and then we'd go see a mosque or two when we were finished. HA! What we weren't expecting (and really I should have since I've been to the big bazaar in Khazakstan) was that the bazaar would be so huge! To start out, we got lost on our way to the bazaar. Really, we didn't so much get lost as was we took a different route than was suggested by our friend. We did, however, find exactly where we think he was sending us. I bought some really cool little pocket/purse thingees made out of old dresses. The guy was really pleasant and I bargained!!! I think I did pretty well, but you never can tell with these things. Anyway, it was a great way to start the day.
Next, Norah bargained for in-lay boxes, that were gorgeous mother-of-pearl and wood. The guy drove a hard bargain, but I think she did great!! We made a good bargaining team. :) We looked at all sorts of textiles, new and old, embroirdered and dyed, silk and cotton. They just had stuff all over the place!
We meandered around the alleys and roads in the bazaar, which is covered, finding all sorts of random trinkets, old grammaphones, textiles, jewelry, leather, clothes...you name it...I'm sure someone had it. Shopping made us hungry, so we ate at a little kebab place, and it was quite good. A cricket did fall out of the ceiling, but it was successfully avoided before it went in my mouth. I was freaked out, but...I kept eating. :) Hopefully, I don't get Cricket's revenge. Norah's rosehip tea was very yummy. I've decided I like Turkish drinks, which are sweet, the way I like them!
We found a place with some embroidered textiles, and bought a bunch of things. It was a nice little store out in the back of the bazaar somewhere quiet. I liked those much better than the main ones. For one thing, I think the people working there actually owned the stores. For the other, they were just less pushy, in general.
With our hands full of packages, we went back to the hotel for a break. Hoping to see the Spice Bazaar today, we quickly changed clothes (into something cooler) and left. Unfortunately, the guys at the front desk said we didn't have enough time. But, we did fret! We just just went back to the Grand Bazaar!
At some point, we ended up on one of the main thoroughfairs, which we tried to avoid for the most part, and got cornered by...can you guess? If you didn't guess carpet salesman, well, I'm sorry, but you're just not all there. We had done extremely well with the "nope" keep walking technique. In fact, we'd fended off all kinds of salesmen (the leather and carpet salesmen were the most persistent). One carpet salesman in particular actually ran up to me, and stood in front of me. So I stepped around, and said we weren't buying a carpet. Then I kept walking. He didn't like that, pursuaded Norah to look at pillow covers, and well, I got pissed off. If you've never met me, you would not know that I have somewhat of a temper (if you do know me, you would know that that sentence is an understatement). These carpet salesmen now know that when I don't want to buy a carpet, I don't want to buy a carpet. I didn't even yell. I just said, "We don't want to buy carpets," several times in a forceful voice. We ended up walking off to one of the guys asking, "why you gotta be like that?" To his credit, he comes up later in this blog...
Thoroughly embarrassed for being mean to a guy just trying to con some nice ladies out of a couple thousand dollars, I was led by Norah a d nice jewelry shop. We tried to bargain there, but weren't willing to pay what they wanted (which was probably a fair price), so we walked away. It was fairly easy for me to do that, because the pissed-offedness hadn't quite worn off yet. (Sorry mom, you don't get the necklace and earrings I found...) Luckily, right around the corner, Norah found us another jewelry shop and I bargained my way into a necklace.
We ended up back at the first store we went to, so Norah could buy some more trinkets. I have to say, out of all the vendors, I liked this guy the best. I felt like his prices were fair and he was just generally nice and not pushy. That probably means we got ripped off, but he made us feel bad while he took our money. :) Plus, he gave us two free felt ornaments!!
Anyway, after a long day, we ended up about to leave, only to get stopped by some lovely scarves. I tried on so many that the bazaar closed. In fact, it had been closed 30 minutes before we left! Talk about eery. The place was really dark, and all the outside doors were closed. We got a little lost, and I got a little scared. Fortunately, the carpet salesmen that I wasn't so nice to, led us out!!! So, if he ever happens to read this blog, I'm sorry I wasn't like nice. I didn't need to be like that. Thanks for helping us not get stuck in the bazaar overnight. And, to his credit as a salesman, he showed us his other carpet shop on the way down the street...
Dinner was at Rami Restaurant, which overlooked the Blue Mosque and the restaurant with the whirling dirvishes. Lucky for us, we got free music from the other restaurant. At one point, we could also see a dirvish in all his whirling glory! The food was excellent and the conversation was even better. :)
Today was a fun fun day. And, if Gavin is reading this and dying of a heart attack after the intro to this post, I didn't spend our life savings. I only spent half of it. :D
Carpet Salesman Count = at least 15 (but only one managed to stop me...and he got an ear full)
Perveted Turkish Men Count = at least 6, but these were much more discreet than before
Cat Count = too many to count, but if I had to guess...it'd be at least 20