Aaaaand we made it. After slithering through six countries, we rolled into our final destination: Istanbul, Turkey. Full tourist mode came out to play here. We’re talking backpacks, sunscreen, filled-to-the-brim water bottles—and that’s just on top of my Chacos and the clothing I haven’t washed in three and a half weeks.
After rolling out of our bunk beds at Bauhaus Hostel, a neighbor of the Blue Mosque, we spent our first morning taking in the sites of the Ayasofia, eventually ending up in the Grand Bazaar—Kapalıçarşı—to haggle our way into tapestry heaven. On the last leg of our trip, we could finally do some
light shopping without risking the health of our vertebrae. In the bazaar Wherever we went, Turkish men leaned out of their shops, calling to us as if we didn’t realize that the room shrouded in rugs, carpets and lanterns was indeed a store. Eventually, we found the perfect shop. Wall-to-wall rugs. Floor-to-ceiling tapestries. The entire place was around the same size as the unisex bathroom at your local Starbucks, with a couch against the far wall begging us to sit down and see the inventory from a more comfortable position.
Within ten minutes, our new friend İsmail was going to town with this deal. Tapestries up to our knees littered the floor and we couldn’t back out if we wanted to. But it was then that Sarah found her star-crossed rug, the one that was worth schlepping five thousand miles. She heckled like a pro until the lira dropped and dropped; it became closer and closer to being hers each time we stood up to leave. Finally, a deal had been reached and hands were shaken. Surrounded by carpets, we held steaming glasses of hot apple tea—a tradition for tourists—between our fingers in celebration. It was eighty degrees outside, but it went down smooth.
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