Thu 12/03/09 12:24
neither do I
So I left the hostel shortly after leaving the last blog entry. It was bright and sunny, and the weather promised to be warm. I felt confident that not taking my new sweatshirt with me was a wise decision. Without any sense of getting lost, I headed out for Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque. I kind of felt like I knew exactly where it was and there wasn’t any problem finding it. On the way I stopped for a pasta dish that I think is something like a breakfast meal. It was good, and I wish I lived somewhere where things like that were common, just walking along and decide to go into a local shop, 2 minutes later you’re walking out with a nice meal. Going through the drive through at McDonalds seems so impersonal… that’s the best word I can come up with… impersonal.
So I get to the park between the two mosques. I’m taking pics and to be honest I don’t really know where to go to get inside, so I start following some of the people who are walking on the side of sofia. That’s when I guy sees that I’m kind of not sure where to go, and of course he comes up to talk to me… all the normal alarms go off and I try to ditch him. I figure that he’s going to try to get me to hire him as a guide, even though he said that he wasn’t a guide. It turns out that he lived in Dubai for about 10 years. He knew all the places that I usually go, and none of the places he mentioned were prompted by me, so he was for real. Anyway, he’s talking to me as I’m walking, and he tells me some history of the mosques, and tells me some other places that I should see. I was still uneasy, but he was talking history, and I love history. So he ends up asking if I’d take a look at his shop, a carpet store. Okay, I finally figure out what’s going on, but at that point it was too late. I go into the shop and then I get passed off to “his cousin” the owner of the shop. Who snaps his fingers and a guy just standing there starts unrolling carpets in front of me. It was so funny, I knew I wasn’t go to buy anything, but then he starts telling me the history of the rugs, country by country, knot by knot. Did you know that Turkish carpets utilize the double knot technique, which by the way lasts longer than the other methods because they as they get older, the knots get tighter… single knot rugs lose the threads. For a half an hour he’s giving me the very thorough history of rugs, and the benefits of Turkish rugs. No lie, it was very interesting. If I had more time, and I didn’t feel like I was expected to purchase, I would have stayed longer.
So it was on to the Mosques. The Hagia Sofia is absolutely awesome. It’s huge, and everything as impressive as I had hoped. The amount of history that has transpired since it was built just radiates through the building. After that I moved on to the… Topkapi Palace. Pretty much the home of the Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have a good time. It didn’t really have interesting architecture and it was just a museum. Not that I was bored, it’s just after the Sofia, not much could compare. I stayed there for about 2 hours though and I did see some remarkable stuff.
Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. I’m heading up the hill to the palace and a guy and a girl stop me, the guy says that I look like someone he knows in Florida. The guy had no accent, and he was with a girl so he was legit… yeah right. I talk to him for a couple of minutes and he says that he’s a rug buyer, and wanted to know if I was thinking about buying a rug. If I had any questions he could probably help me make a good decision. Oh my god… he was so smooth, I was buying his story until he mentioned helping me, and then I politely excused myself. It was so funny. Rugs must be a big business to be that sly as to use a team to get people interested in buying.
So I’m done at the palace and am heading to the Blue Mosque. It’s probably just as beautiful as Hagia Sofia, but it doesn’t quite hold the same meaning for me. I take that back, it is more beautiful, but still second. The weather has gotten cold. When I say cold, I mean that it feels like it’s going to snow type of cold. My best guess is that it’s about 35 degrees and I didn’t bring my sweatshirt. I’m the smart one. :)
Back to my story, I’m walking down the hill, and guess what? A guy pulls up beside me as I’m walking and starts talking. This time I wise to the lines. He starts just like the first guy this morning, and I tell him that I already went to the rug store. He asks if I’m the art history professor that Ashen had met… I say yes. So I think he’s going to realize that this is a lost cause, but no. I even tell him that I’m tired, and I’m not going to go anywhere except back to the hostel. This guy was an amateur, he was doing the history thing, and that is interesting to me, but he doesn’t get the fact that I live in a Muslim country, and keeps telling me things that I already know. By this time I’m freezing, but I do like the company, so I let him ramble along. He tells me that I need a cup of tea and his shop is only a little ways away… geez, don’t they get it. I was starting to get a little bit annoyed by now, not really at him, but just because I wanted to leave. I finally broke free and headed back to the hostel on the way I grabbed a kebab and wandered the grand bazaar for the second time. Then it started to rain… and it’s been raining ever since. At least it’s not snow.