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We like to think of Peterman’s Eye as an old fashioned interactive community newspaper (if there is such a thing) focused on travel and curiosities. Talk with us about today’s post. Tell us about the places you’ve been. Or take a trip using J. Peterman’s exclusive travel services (coming soon). Read more...



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When you enter Istanbul's Grand Bazaar through the Beyazit Gate, one of six central entrances, it’s important to have someone with you who can outtalk the shopkeepers. My friend, H., is just the woman for the job.

Everything is up for negotiation. H. advises, “Never pay more than half the listed price.” More than a few carpet dealers clutch their hearts or raise their voices in a plaintive wail as H. walks out of their diminutive shops without closing a deal. If you don’t haggle, however, the merchants will be genuinely disappointed.

Inside this wild warren of shops and stalls (4400 of them), the sun disappears, as does all sense of direction. Little boys weave through the crush of people with small trays of tea, and men with logs of rolled carpet busily scurry from shop to shop.

The sounds of ship horns from super tankers and ferries ululate from the Bosphorus nearby. Seagulls chime in, while the muezzins high in their minarets call the faithful to prayer five times a day.

Besides carpets, there are fine cotton hamam towels called pestemal (PESH-temal) that have a soft silky hand. My eyes are also drawn to beautiful prayer beads, evil eyes, hip scarves for belly dancers, and bountiful amounts of 14-karat to 24-karat gold jewelry.  

It’s the salesmanship of the carpet dealers that fascinates me the most. There’s tremendous competition among them yet somehow they all survive. They have signs in Russian above their stores and if you pretend not to speak English, they’ll come at you in German, French, or Japanese.

Fortunately, I have H. to fend them off. How do you deal with persistent salespeople?

J. Peterman

 

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3 Members’ Opinions
February 19, 2009 3:19 PM
First-com luludemajorque said...

Not easy...especially if you've placed yourself in a vulnerable position. About seven years ago my husband and I took our children with us for a day's trip to Tangier (we were visiting our family in Marbella). We had been warned naturally to beware of opportunistic tour guides, and the like, catering to naive tourists. Yet, convinced of our travel-savvy ways, we disembarked and promptly chose a competent and honest looking tour guide. Rather he chose us! Youssef took us around town and showed us the way to a lovely little restaurant where our children fell in love with the taste of chicken bastilla. After lunch, Youssef introduced us to "the best and most reputable carpet dealer in town" where he left (abandoned) us in the daunting and oh so hospitable hands of the owner. We were treated lavishly to mint tea - absolutely delicious and unrecreatable! As we sipped our tea, examples of different carpets were laid at our feet by fretful looking youths...the more we took to decide which purchase to make -somewhat appalled by the high prices - the more I became convinced that the fate of the young employees depended upon a sale! and I began to feel responsible for the boys...after an hour or more and piles upon piles of carpets, the owner turned to my husband and said "...well I could always let you take this carpet if you leave me your wife, ha ha ha" We barely reacted to the suggestion and promptly decided on an 'antique' (used?) blue and red 7x12 Berber that we thoroughly enjoy to this day, eventhough we are convinced the price was not right!


For my 40th my sister sent me a roundtrip ticket to Marrakech and I embarked upon a trip I shall never forget. She treated me to the most magical two weeks, regaling me with special visits to locals' homes and, out of the way places and restaurants.... After two and a half years of living there she knew just how to haggle at the Souk, and was so terribly frustrated and appalled when I would accept a price she felt was exorbitant and meant for a tourist .... So, in the art of haggleing I have much to learn, and look forward to the opportunities to do so!

February 19, 2009 6:32 PM
Stage_2 10photoviewsCom-100Com-300Com-500First-comFirst-photoHr-1Hr-10Hr-5 JALOPKIN said...

lulu:


I'm guessing that there were not a lot of Garage Sales or Flea Markets around where you grew up ....... Or even Swap Meets for Hot Rodders and Parts Hounds .......


Marrakech is is the first place I ever saw that was more intensely, teemingly BUSY ... than New York ....... But the Romance of the place takes over just as soon as one realizes that the Kaleidoscope around him is alive ....... I found food from the Street Vendors to be every bit as inviting and delicious as any I found in the Restaurants, most of which play to the Tourists .......
Some of the best fun I had in the Bazaar was playing with a Shop Owner's head, by haggling with him in Yiddish, with bit of Ladino thrown in ... He gave me the most incredulous look of despondent resolve, and then gave me a price so low that they only thing left would have been to pay me, to take the goods away ...... a Marvelous place, Marrakech ...


 

February 19, 2009 7:46 PM
10photoviews10videoviewsFirst-comFirst-photoFirst-video isaacc7 said...

The souk in Sana'a is the same as far as haggling goes but it is known for having a very different vibe than other souks. It is uniformly laid back with very little pressure. Of course, there is also quite a bit less to buy there that is of interest to tourists. There is quite a bit of tourist junk up by the Bab-a-Yemen, but if you get in deeper you can find the antique shops. There aren't any real carpets to speak of made in Yemen, but you can track down old Jewish silver and traditional clothes. In any case, be prepared to haggle!

Honor Roll



still thinking about today...


Yesterday's Discussion

Marveling at the ornate decoration of the temple buildings, we make our way past images of demons intended to scare the evil out of us and settle into our rooms. These are bare except for a couple of small bolsters and many quilts that serve as both mattress and covering.

 

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