Saturday, April 12, 2008

Does this count as a travel post?

We're back now, so I'm not sure if this counts as a travel post, but here's the cap off of our trip to Turkey.

We arrived at İbrahim Paşa (pasha), our hotel in the Sultanahmet district in Istanbul only to find that they screwed up our reservation by a day. Lucky us they had a double room open up, because the only other room was a bit small. In a hotel of small rooms, that saying something. But it's a really neat hotel, antique and modern at once, and it has a great rooftop terrace with a spectacular view of the Blue Mosque, and the Sea of Marmara. While nearly every place we've stayed had a very nice breakfast, the service at Ibrahim Pasa was one of the best, but their presentation was certainly tops!

We spent our last day in Istanbul shopping, or pretending to. Neither of us are very good at - nor interested in - haggling, so no doubt that we overpaid for the few things we did end up buying. But rewinding back to Selçuk, we did purchase a Kilim and a beautiful Turkish runner woven in the Aegean region. While we had no intention of buying any carpets at all, we got a real good feeling from the folks in Selçuk, and we spent quite a bit of time negotiating and feel we got a great deal. We also know that they have a terrific reputation, and we are very happy with this purchase.

In our last hours wandering Sultanahmet, the last person we ran into was the first carpet seller we met on our first day in Turkey . He remembered us clearly and invited us to lunch with him. We had already eaten, but we did try some of his food that he offered (damn, was it good!), and we chatted a bit before excusing ourselves. We didn't talk at all about carpets, only about our travels throughout Turkey. We left feeling very good about this guy. No doubt there are plenty of ways to easily get ripped off with buying carpets, but there are also plenty of sellers that can be trusted. If you find yourself in Istanbul wanting to buy a carpet, head over to Bazaar 55 Rug Shop in Sultanahmet just past the Arasta Bazaar. On that same note, avoid at all costs Er-Han, the first shop between the Blue Mosque and Arasta Bazaar! They will rip you off!

Our last dinner in Turkey was at a posh place named Cezayir (Jez-ah-yeer) across the Bosphorous in the Beyoğlu (Bay-oh-loo) district. It was a very interesting blend of very modern and very old interior decor, and the food was excellent. Although, I must admit, in many instances it was hard to completely enjoy our dining experiences because nearly every person in every restaurant chain smoked. There are so many things I will miss about Turkey, but one thing I certainly will not miss is the smoking in restaurants, and everywhere for that matter.

Turkey is a beautiful country with a very rich culture, and the people are hands down the nicest and most hospitable we have ever encountered. We saw quite a lot on our brief visit, but we know we barely scratched the surface on all there is to see. We look forward to going back someday, hopefully soon.

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