Dodging Istanbul Carpet Salesmen & Conquering Fears of Traveling Alone Part 2



Many Istanbul carpets for sale.

This 200 year old Turkish carpet costs thousands...


Ahhh, the Istanbul carpet salesmen. They are a pain in the butt and they are EVERYWHERE.  And they have insidious ways of getting you into their stores, as you shall soon see.

Turkish carpets are gorgeous, and there are many styles and traditions wrapped up in the weave. But they can also cost hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands of dollars, so they’re not really in my budget. Somehow I wound up with two of them.

Why? Because of the damn carpet salesman, that’s why! Oh, and I’m sure my over-willingness to “be nice” had something to do with it too. Turns out there are some common sense tactics you can employ to avoid the situation altogether. I wish I knew before I went to Istanbul!

Here’s how they’ll approach you:

  1. “Good Morning! You are an American, are you not? What state are you from?” A friendly conversation ensues, followed by an invitation to have a cup of tea in the store. Tends to happen as you’re passing by a storefront.
  2. When sightseeing, watch out for the guys offering helpful information: “Do you know why the Blue Mosque has six minarets?” This helpful native proceeded to tell me a convoluted story about the Turkish word for six, “alti” getting mixed up with the word for gold, “altin”. And so poor Sultan Ahmed I had his orders misconstrued and the Blue Mosque wound up with six, tiled minarets instead of four gold ones. Apparently having six is presumptuous, because the mosque in Mecca has seven. (Wouldn’t four gold ones be just as audacious?)   Anyway, I wound up with a carpet, because this guy was just so darn helpful and informative, I couldn’t say no to stopping in at his cousin’s store. And what’s even more amazing is that the cousin with the store laughed when I asked him about the six vs. gold story. So. Sometimes you get good information. Other times you get a new carpet.
  3. Watch out for hidden stops on guided tours. Yep, I signed up for a tour of the city with a cruise down the Bosporus. The tour was informative and well worth the money, but it also included a stop at a high-end carpet store. Thankfully I was able to truthfully say I had already purchased two carpets and was not interested in a third. Whew!


No escape from Istanbul carpet salesmen...not even on the Bosporus tour.

You'll need the Fortress of Europe to protect you from circling Istanbul carpet salesmen!


Ok, so what have I learned about dodging the carpet salesmen? Don’t be so damn smiley and approachable. If you don’t make eye contact with anyone your vacation budget will fare a lot better.

Most of the residents and shop owners in Istanbul are pretty friendly…but they also want your business.  Once I learned how to walk down the street without looking like a “mark” no one bothered to approach me again.

In my next blog I’ll tell you about the fabulous time I had at the Grand Bazaar—spending and socializing on MY terms…


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. 1poorglobetrekker
    Oct 16, 2010 @ 00:07:55

    Ugggh…the carpet salesmen WERE annoying!!


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