Istanbul, Turkey Day 135

Despite the sounds of pigeon toenails scratching on the metal rooftop right above my head, I’m actually having incredibly good sleeps in this heat with just a fan to keep me cool. Well, what do you expect for 17 euro a night, right? I have a pit toilet right next door (and a regular one one floor down.) The reason I chose this place wasn’t it’s charming decor and lack of an elevator. It is in a great location. I’m a 5 minute walk to Hagia Sophia, 10 minutes to the Grand Bazaar and 5 minutes to Galata Bridge. If I were to come back with Paul, I’d probably spring for a nicer room, but for just me? It is totally fine.  
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My destination for the first part of the day? The Grand Bazaar. Oh my god, this was just about the most fun I’ve had in my entire life!!!! I’m a good haggler, I’ve discovered! I kill them with kindness, and they WANT to give me the best price… oh yes they do! I spent the most money on one single item today. This will be THE thing that I bring back from this trip that is truly special. I fell in love with it and had to have it. Scroll to the very bottom for photos. You have to brace yourself before you enter the market. Every single person in there is in there for one reason….. to sell you their stuff. And try to sell they do. Even if they don’t catch your eye they’re calling out to you. “Lady, lady, over here! Lady, you want a leather jacket? You want a scarf? You’re breaking my heart!” It’s comical! Then, once you have bought something and are carrying around your purchase (which is obviously a carpet) they say, “You want a second carpet? Come, come and have some apple tea! You don’t need to buy, just look!” and my favourite tactic… “I’m giving you the best price because you are now my friend.” I’m just sitting there giggling to myself most of the time. The best part was that every person that I did stop to chat with after I bought my small carpet and silk embroidered piece wanted to see them and know how much I paid for it. I told them, and each and every one said I got them for a very good price, so that made me feel good. It truly is an experience like no other. I had countless cups of tea and some great conversations and memories that will last a lifetime. DON’T be afraid to stop and have some tea, it’s just what they do. There’s no obligation, it’s just fun!
Entrance to the Grand Bazaar.
I REALLY want one of these but they are glass and I can’t risk hauling it around for the next 5 weeks.
This is where I bought my small Kilim wool rug. Hasan is a true salesman who wasn’t going to let me walk out the door without a carpet. We had a good haggle and I was very happy with my purchase. I’m just not so happy about having to lug it around for another 5 weeks. I’ll be surprised if The Albatross will survive until the end…
Being here has made me wonder how I could start a small business bringing some of these beautiful Turkish textiles to Canada. Wouldn’t that be a great job? Come to Turkey twice a year, haggle with the dealers, ship the products home and sell them. Yup, I could get used to that lifestyle!
Beautiful silk embroidered handmade fabric.
My lunchtime view in the market. I had a really good (but kind of expensive) lunch. It was grilled chunks of pita bread covered with shaved chicken and spicy tomato sauce topped with a few french fries. Mmmm…
I’m in love with the embroidered pieces. They’re just exquisite.
They are big on fruit juice here. The pomegranate is divine!
Standing in front of the Blue Mosque.
The view from the inner courtyard.
The ceiling of the overhang in the inner courtyard.
Upon entering the Blue Mosque I had to remove my shoes and put the blue skirt on over my dress to cover my legs. My scarf was fine to cover my shoulders.
The interior of the mosque was breathtaking. It is Ramadan for the entire month of August, so the Muslim people fast from morning until dusk. They cannot eat or drink (even water) all day until the singing (or is it chanting?) comes on over the loud speaker from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. I have to say that the call to prayer is one of the most strangely moving things to hear in person. I’ve seen it on TV before, but it’s so different to be here while it’s happening in real time.  As I’ve stated a few times before in this blog, I’m not a religious person, but I’m fascinated by human ritual, whatever the source may be (religious or otherwise.) Being here is sparking an already budding interest in the Middle East.
More Turkish delight! I went back to Hafiz Mustafa to get some baklava for myself.
Here is my beautiful silk tapestry that I purchased from a very nice man called Mehmet. He and I got along like a house on fire. We sat and chatted and I had tea (he did not because of Ramadan) and talked about CappadociaworkWOMANship?) is so fine and precise, I’ve never seen anything like it in my whole life. He was telling me that it’s mostly Europeans and Middle Eastern people who appreciate this work, not North Americans so he was happy to have a happy Canadian appreciating this beautiful handcraft in his shop. The designs are all taken from the 17th century Ottoman Empire era.

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