After teaching in Kuwait for the 2012/13 school year, I met up with two girlfriends in June for a trip to Turkey. We all still say it was one of our best trips ever. We experienced Istanbul, Cappadocia, Pamukkale, and Kas. We started in Istanbul, a fabulous cosmopolitan metropolis. Let me preface this story by saying that me and Michelle are green eyed, women who look like foreigners in this part of the world, as we are taller than the average male here. Our friend Cara though blended right in as a local with her petite stature, dark hair/eyes, and olive skin. She drew the attention of many men here, and we played the part of her Amazon bodyguards.
One of the main sites in Istanbul is the Blue Mosque or Sultanahmet Camii. Click on the link for an interesting history on this structure. As we walked up to the entrance multiple men tried to offer us a tour of the inside which we refused. One young man, Ibrahim, asked if he could at least tell us about the building so we’d know what to look at when we entered. Also, he’d be happy to show us his family’s carpet store after we finished our tour. We politely listened, then entered the mosque. When we exited, there he was, ready to escort us to the family shop. Now, normally, we would have said thanks, no thanks, but he was very sweet and we really did want to visit a carpet store as Cara collects them, and it was just down the street, and there were three of us, so we went.
As we walked into the store, a woman was weaving a rug. A gentleman offered us tea as he explained the difference between Hali, Kilim, Cicim and Sumak rugs, all usually made from handspun wool or silk. Minutes turned into hours as the pile of rugs he showed us grew, and our tea changed into beer. He laid each on the floor wanting us to touch each one, even lie on it. When Cara did that, they picked her up and swung her like she was in a hammock.
Each time we expressed interest in purchasing a rug, another male family member would join the conversation. When one found out we were Americans, he told us he was John Travolta. In fact, he did look a bit like him. He instantly took a liking to Cara and offered us another beer. Hours later she did buy a rug, I just can’t remember if that was right before or after “John Travolta” proposed to her! I do remember her Amazon bodyguards suggesting that it was time to take our leave, but then they invited us to stay for dinner!
Instead we had a lovely seafood dinner at a restaurant with outside seating where Cara taught us how to properly debone a whole fish and Chelle danced with the musician. Oh, how I love my girlfriends.
Other great places to see in Istanbul are the Hagia Sophia, a great architectural beauty and an important monument for Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, and the underground Basilica Cistern with its Medusa heads sitting in the water. Of course, a visit to a Turkish bath house for a hamman is an absolute must.