Just back from Istanbul with my daughter

Sep 30th, 2002, 10:37 AM
  #1  
tenley
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Just back from Istanbul with my daughter

We had a F A B U L O U S time! The people were incredible-- we met and hung out with the most gentle, helpful, genuinely happy people we ever could have hoped for. My daughter Katie got more than her share of attention with her long blond hair, but it all so sweet... everyone just wanted to talk to her and make sure she was having a good time. One particularly nice young man that we had been talking to said to her "I wish I were a fish. Do you know why? So I could swim in your blue eyes." We melted. He was also the guy that had two puppies both named Macho. "Macho 1 and Macho 2-- too macho, just like Turkish men" he explained... HA! We also met a really great guy named Salo who was a History student at the University. He taught Katie how to play Backgammon and gave us a private (and very informative) tour of the Blue Mosque right down to the signatures of the 5,000 workers, the architect and the Sultan that are carved in 2 of the columns of the courtyard. Katie said "NOW we've seen everything." He was great. (Wish I would have gotten his e-mail address... if anybody out there in Istanbul knows Salo please pass it along!) Everybody always warns about the touts and harrassing carpet sellers, but to tell you the truth that was when we met all these nice people. We had already bought our carpets and even though they knew we weren't going to buy anything they spent lots of time talking with us anyway--- walking us to our next destination, stopping us when they saw us again to chat. I never felt pressured, we loved meeting all these people.
And of course we saw all the major sites. We were there for 8 and a half days but it still wasn't enough to do everything. The highlights were The Bosphorous Trip, taking a Turkish Bath, St. Saviors in Chora and of course shopping the Grand Bazaar. The walk from the Grand Bazaar to the Spice Bazaar was one we will never forget--- a literal sea of people for blocks. Great people watching!
The first few days we stayed at the Germir Palas in Taksim. Very nice, but we got tired of taking a bus and taxi everywhere so we moved to the Ayasofya Hotel in Sultanhamet and spent the rest of our time there. It was a great place. The people at the front desk were wonderful. My daughter got a heat rash (was very hot and humid!) and the woman at the desk was really great helping us find a pharmacy and reassured me that it looked like the same rash her brother gets every summer... "not a problem."
And of course we bought a carpet... that was one of the reasons for the trip! We had a great experiece at CANDAN in the bazaar. I didn't feel like they were trying to rip me off. Since it was my 2nd trip to Istanbul and had a bought a carpet before I knew enough about the process to hold my own. And having Katie there was really an assett, epecially when she got in on the bidding. She actually made the final offer. They wrapped up her tulip glass, saucer and spoon and gave it to her as a gift and a remembrance of her first carpet buying experience. Ran into them again on our last day and ended up buying a very unusual horse blanket for an extremely good price. "It's about friendship now, not about making money."
Got a small rug from Galeri Cengiz. It's from the Mt. Ararat region -- a Noah's Ark type theme. Lots of animals, beautiful colors and design. And also another great buying experiece. We were shown some fabulous antique rugs just for fun and education.
As far as safety goes it never crossed my mind for a second that we were unsafe. Not once. Not even walking back to the hotel at night. It was never an issue.
We had a very special trip. Katie got quite a wordly education. It was a trip that will inspire more travel for her, I'm sure. I told her next time SHE was paying.

Thanks to everyone who passed on advice to us before the trip (especailly Christy).

Tenley
 
Sep 30th, 2002, 10:41 AM
  #2  
JaniceK
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welcome home! thanks for your report. Just one question...how did you choose the place where you bought your carpet?
 
Sep 30th, 2002, 10:50 AM
  #3  
tenley
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Weeeeelllllll. So many people want you to come look at their carpets. I guess I just went by intuition. You can kinda tell the by the salesman right off the bat if they're honest or not. By their face and eyes. You can just tell. So when I said "yes" to going into their shops I had a pretty good felling about it.
 
Sep 30th, 2002, 11:08 AM
  #4  
JaniceK
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Wow you like to take chancesI have heard so many stories about purchasing rugs over there.
 
Sep 30th, 2002, 11:14 AM
  #5  
tenley
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I felt like I was free to leave at anytime without hard feelings, so it wasn't taking too much of a chance.
 
Sep 30th, 2002, 11:22 AM
  #6  
JaniceK
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It certainly takes a lot of pressure off to find a specific shop. I am glad that you had such a good time.
 
Sep 30th, 2002, 11:22 AM
  #7  
JaniceK
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I mean it takes a lot of pressure off not to have to find a specific shop. I need some afternoon coffee
 
Sep 30th, 2002, 11:47 AM
  #8  
Sarah
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Loved the story about swimming in the eyes. Such a strong tradition of poetry in the middle east.

I always loved when men would run up to me and say you you dropped something. What you look on the ground, there answer of course was "my heart". This happened to a couple of times in Israel in 1985 then in Turkey in 1992. Friend was with me the second time scratching her head saying, YOU STILL THINK IT"S Cute!! So I forgot it was not an original comment. HEY A COMPLIMENT IS A COMPLIMENT.

Did you bring home any pottery Tenley? Where did you fly from and what did the rates look like? Any sense of the earthquake damage of a few years back?
 
Sep 30th, 2002, 02:56 PM
  #9  
tenley
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We flew from Portland, OR to NYC then non-stop to Istanbul. The last leg took about 9 and a half hours. The cost was about $1,000. But I think in November the rates are dropping quite a bit.
The only pottery we bought were a few hand painted bowls. I'm not a real pottery buff, but there was plenty to be had! I bought some amber jewelry for gifts... it was beautiful and quite reasonable. My daughter had a good time buying the fancy slippers with the turned up toes. She got a pair for herself, her little sister and a couple best friends. There were so many treasures!
 
Oct 11th, 2002, 06:01 AM
  #10  
ridem
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Tenley:
Thanks for sharing your daughter and your experiences in Istanbul with us!
I remember the long thread that you started here a few months ago when someone questioned your sanity for "taking your daughter to a Muslim country".

Glad you followed your instincts and had a wonderful time! Thank you for sharing!
 

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