Julie Paterson, owner of Venus Adventures for women writes
“There Bulgaria Church. There Golden Horn. There Yeni mosque. Mosque, mosque, mosque. Too much mosque!”
The cab driver turned off the meter, insisting on a free guided detour across Istanbul back to my hotel. In broken English.
In Turkey you have to live in the moment…if you do, little adventures are sure to be had. The cabbie only had about 20 words of English, but he’s a Turk, which means he can’t help himself: hospitality is in his blood.
I love Istanbul…it’s a huge bustling city, crammed with so many interesting corners. It might have 15 million people, but no one seems to be in a big-city hurry. People still know how to smile and be generous and helpful. And if you smile at them, and give them the time of day, you get the world back. Always with a cup of tea, of course!
Today’s “highlight” adventure was at a hairdressers. Fringe hanging in my eyes, I decided to risk a Turkish hairdresser. I strolled around til I came across a small salon, and asked the male hairdresser if he could trim a bit off my fringe. He nodded. An easy 5-minute job normally. I walked in and three male hairdressers jumped to attention. I was put in a seat, a vibrating foot massage machine pushed under my feet, my fringe was trimmed and coiffed, then my head was pushed backwards onto the headrest. Out came some tweezers and my brows were tidied, then a dollop of hot wax was smacked between my brows and ripped off. What the..?!
So I was just getting a few little extras? A cream was applied to my face and scraped off to clean my pores, then a steam machine was held up to my face for a few minutes, and a gel mask applied. OK…! The hairdresser sat down and ate his take-away lunch while the mask took effect. There was no English to communicate with, but heck, I was going with the flow. After he had eaten, the mask was peeled off, more creams applied and massaged in to my face…then my neck, then my shoulders, then both arms! An hour later I was done. Whew! Best fringe-cut I have ever had.
Next stop, the Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar is amazing. Every corner is stuffed with wonderfully exotic paraphernalia – beautiful handicrafts, quaint cafes, enticing rug shops, irresistible jewellery, colourful lamps…It’s a shopaholics paradise, and all housed inside a fantastic, old covered bazaar, with tiled ceilings and Arabic archways. If only the walls could talk. Swarthy, handsome salesmen hang around their shop doors, ready to lure you inside. After a couple of hours I am tired and need a break. I succumb to one of the endless invitations of a salesman for a cup of tea in his shop. I always do this when I need a rest in the bazaar. Then I get to drink tea and chat and laugh with a Turk, it’s a nice way to fill in an hour or three…..
The day is over and I haven’t done half the stuff I wanted to. Oh well. That’s life in Istanbul. You maybe need a week in Istanbul to visit all the sights. But you need several weeks just for drinking chai and wasting the hours away with the Turks. The hospitality is phenomenal, if you are open to it. I wondered to myself, if it would be possible to die of a hospitality-overload? If so, then my life might be in danger!
Need a tour guide in Istanbul – try Arzu, let her show you the city. More