I’m two days behind real time again. Sorry about that. It was partly because we have been busy and partly because I was dreading writing the post about Kusadasi, Turkey. Our plan for the day was to just explore the bazaar, walk the town, and maybe hit a beach club in the afternoon. Most people on our ship went to Ephesus. But after Pompeii and the Acropolis – we just weren’t feeling more ruins. So we headed into the bazaar.
We had a gameplan. Rick Steves had warned us not to engage with the vendors at all. Don’t answer questions, don’t say hello – nothing – or you will suddenly be in a back room looking at carpets you could never afford or hideous leather jackets with fur collars. We knew this. We vowed to stay strong. Adam is a MASTER at not shopping. Yet, several hours later we had spent all our euros for the day and felt totally violated.
It’s not possible to simply window shop in Turkey. The shopkeeper will be on you like white on rice, asking “where are you from?” and pulling you into his shop. They also listen to your conversations as you walk by and make relevant comments. Before even speaking to us, they knew we were Americans, and knew Adam was a Lakers fan by his phone case. One guy even yelled out, “hey, going to be rough without Kobe!” I was impressed with his observation skills! And when someone says “hello beautiful” or even just “good morning,” I can’t just ignore them. It’s not polite. So I would kindly say “no thank you.” But the next thing I knew, I had a cup of apple tea in my hand (“It’s a gift!”) and was buying jewelry from a guy who “made it himself by hand” (yah right!).
Memet, who sold the rings, was actually very sweet. His apple tea was delicious. He knew all about the NBA playoffs. He let me use his bathroom. And I love the 16 euro ring that I bought. So no harm, no foul. Until he asked us to just step into his friend’s store next door. His friend sold “genuine fake watches.”
I have no use for a watch, even a real one, so I looked at sunglasses. Adam, the stronger willed shopper of the two of us, also has no need for a watch. But half an hour later, he plunked down 90 euros for a fake Tag Heuer (The price started at 270 euros). And I bought fake Tom Ford and fake Rayban sunglasses for 15 euros each. It’s honestly like they put some kind of Turkish trance on us!
We passed a street called “Bar Street,” so naturally we went down it. But it was a trap. There were no bars, just more shops. Adam called it “Barrage Street,” because of the barrage of aggressive vendors we ran into. We bought some beautiful teal ceramic bowls, Christmas ornaments, and Turkish Delight (don’t buy Turkish delight. We even bought the fresh/soft kind. It is disgusting. It’s like ambrosia with pistachios but chewier.)
We tried to wander the town, but anything outside of the Bazaar area looked super sketchy.
On our way thought the port shops, we stopped in a Turkish carpet store because I saw a tiny rug (like 24 inches by 18 inches) with kittens on it. I was just curious about prices. The man said it was $2400. But he would cut me a special deal for just $1600 if I paid cash. I may have literally said the F word out loud as I walked away.
So we headed back to the ship. It was noon. I felt really bad about wasting a port day, but I had had enough Turkey. With everyone else out at Ephesus, the ship was heaven. We had a quiet afternoon at the pool, played trivia, made friends from Ohio (go Buckeyes!), and read in the solarium.
We watched as a security boat circled our ship all day – from morning to night. Turkey was the only port where this happened. It made me feel less, rather than more, safe. Then the coolest thing in Turkey happened. We were sitting out on our balcony at 5pm looking at the town when it got oddly quiet. It was as if traffic stopped, music stopped, people stopped talking. Then, over a loudspeaker, we heard a chant. It was LOUD. It played over the entire town. I realized it was the call to prayer. It repeated several times. It kind of gave me chills. Those are the cultural experiences that I love.
That night, I got picked for the Family Feud team that played against the ship’s officers. We didn’t beat the officers, but it was super fun. Then we had an entire flight of martinis, which were presented to us with incredible flair. Seriously, watch this video!
We spent some time watching Band-e-oke, then it was off to bed so I could dream of Santorini – the entire reason I booked this cruise.
Tomorrow: The Greece of My Dreams