Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Grand Bazaar - Friday June 6th

Today our goal is the Grand Bazaar and maybe a runner carpet for the hall. We have lots of Persian rugs and really don't need another but we could use one in the hallway. We have read all the information on how to bargain in Istanbul and what to watch out for. We are steeled, expecting some version of Lo Wu in Shenzhen, where you don't dare look at the shopkeepers unless you want to be chased and harassed.

The grand Bazaar itself is kind of nice; huge, old, a maze of little shops and twisty streets, all in a catacomb-like structure. It is warm inside the bazaar, but not horribly so. Of course as we walk along the sales guys approach us, but by now we are used to them. They have funny lines, some of them anyway. We are sort of looking for some shops that Lee found online but have only mediocre results that way. We finally decide to work with a salesman with very good English and a calm demeanor.

Once we are seated in his shop he starts bringing out lots and lots of rugs. We are just not that excited by a standard Persian rug, neither wool or silk. We have a bunch and can get them from a dealer online so why bother? Then he brings out some Kurdish tribal rugs and we start to become more interested. They are embroidered and different. We settle on a couple and start the bargaining process. We are given tea, explanations of costs, shipping, duty, taxes. It's more than we want to spend, but we continue to discuss. We decide that we will carry the rug home ourselves as an extra suitcase (it's not that large, or heavy) and that reduces the price to about twice what we want to pay, so now the bargaining starts in earnest. I quote a price that is about 40% of what he is asking. He looks aggrieved, but comes down slightly, although nowhere near enough. Mentally I am doing the Lo Wu walk away. When bargaining in Lo Wu, if the salesperson is not being accommodating, a popular tactic is to say, "oh well" and start to walk away. Sometimes this backfires and they let you go, but more often than not they'll come running after you, sighing "okay, okay", and you get your price. Back in Turkey, we sit and continue to talk quietly. Lee counters at about 60%. The carpet guy counters at about $100 more than that. Now we are close. I split the difference with him and we are done! Yeah we probably paid too much, but not TOO too much. It was a pleasant experience overall. No "missy missy" no touching. Not very Lo Wu-like at all.

On the way out of the bazaar sales guys tell Lee he needs another carpet to balance things out. Haha.

Outside the bazaar it is pouring. At first we are lost, but eventually we find the street and then the store recommended in the class I took on traveling in Turkey a few years ago. Argammon. But this is crazy, like Tiffany's, or a museum. We wander through in amusement, this is way out of our price range. But eventually we find their restaurant and that part is nice. A long leasurely lunch. And then back to the hotel to rest.

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