Continued from Istanbul Day 4.
Beautiful morning here in Istanbul. It felt just about perfect with a light jacket. Heavenly. I put on my shoes to go outside, and despite being soaked from the rain yesterday, they are completely dry. It is much dryer here than Mumbai where my shoes didn’t dry overnight from being wet.
We found this tourist trap street right behind the Blue Mosque. We’ve been hawked to come here while walking around the Blue Mosque a few days ago. We just randomly walked into it today when we were trying to explore the neighborhood.
Freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. I think our guy may have squeezed too hard because I could taste the juices of the skin. Oh well, still tasty, just saying that it could be better with a more gentle squeeze.
Look at all those arches built on top of other arches. They’d get bricked up, new arches built, bricked up again, etc. This is one old building that has gone through many additions and renovations over the years.
It reminds me much of St. Pieter’s Basilica. For one, it’s fucking grand and impressive just like St. Pieter’s. But, what reminds me the most are the sounds in here and how similar they are. The voices of all the people are echoed and it turns into a specific type of soft murmur that you only get with an extremely large and tall interior space with hard stone surfaces. If I just closed my eyes, I almost felt like I was back in Rome.
The Blue Mosque takes the cake for exterior, but Hagia Sophia easily takes the cake for the interior. I had Hagia Sophia on my list of places to visit, but I didn’t do any extensive research into it. Well, that turned out to be a good thing because I didn’t go in with any expectations, and was pleasantly surprised and awed.
Time for some snack and figure out what we are going to do here. We can either look around the shops here, or be ambitious and walk onwards towards Spice Market and check that out today too. We decided to spend the rest of the afternoon here in Grand Bazaar and then go back to the hotel to get rested up. We are supposed to meet RF’s Turkish friends later tonight.
I bought a gift at one of the shops here. I, of course, haggled with them since it’s expected. The price first quoted me was 900 TL, which was insane. I protested, and the guy offered another one of the same size, and said that this was one made of cotton instead of silk(debatable), and it was only 200 TL. I said it was too much still. He claimed that its made by hand. Who knows if that’s true or not… I told him that I would maybe pay 50 for it. He said that 50 is too low, but he would take 150. I walked out, because I knew if I didn’t put on the show, he wouldn’t come down on price. He ran after me and asked me what my final price was. I told him there were other shops in the area and I’ll go look at them first. He should instead give me his best and if it’s indeed the best, then I’ll come back if no one else beat his price. He said 120. I said way too much, kept on walking. Then literally as I was almost out of earshot, he said 80….Hmmm, that sounds almost ok.
I walked around, looked at the other shops. They used a different sales technique. They weren’t as eager to sell. When they quoted me, they’d quote me in Euros. They’d say 200 Euros. Errrr, no. Eventually I came back to the area of the first seller. He saw me walking down the corridor and he ran after me and said that we’ll make a deal and 130 is a good price. I said no, and told him that he said 80 earlier. He’s like, fine. We walked into his store, and we started looking at the different colors. I reiterated 80, to which he said we agreed to 130. I said 80. He said 100. I said, no, I will not take 100. He said we’ll split the difference at 90. Done. I am sure I still overpaid, but I think this was about the best that I could have done without being a local. That wasn’t so bad, not after being in India for 3 weeks where I had to haggle every day just to get a ride on a taxi or rickshaw.
We sat down at the table, and there was a family sitting next to us. We looked over at this white drink that they were having and we were wondering what they were. The wife said that it was Ayran. They are actually tourists from Macedonia. We ordered an Ayran just to try it. It’s yogurt with water and salt. It’s an acquired taste I think.
Instead of taking the tram, we walked back to the hotel from Grand Bazaar and encountered this massive downhill. Parts of Istanbul is quite hilly. This area is also not quite as nice as the other more tourists parts.
To be continued at Istanbul Day 5 Part 2.