travel souvenirs — part 4

My favorite travel souvenir ... ever! I enjoyed a 10-day trip to Turkey in February, 2008. Hosted by Virtuoso onsite Sea Song Tours, we arrived in Istanbul during a driving snowstorm. Our first two nights were hosted by the fabulous Four Seasons Sultanahmet, a short walk away from the Grand Bazaar, a covered market with over 4,000 shops that normally attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily.

But because of the cold and driving snow, the Grand Bazaar was virtually empty that day. I wandered the halls and popped in and out of shops selling carpets. I was in the market for a runner for my front hallway, if I found something I liked at a good price. It was a buyers market that day. I entered the shop around 2 in the afternoon, the shop's first [potential] customer of the day. After the ritual cup of tea with the shopkeeper, I asked to see some runners. He brought out several for me to inspect, and I decided on the carpet pictured above.

Haggling over price is expected, so when he quoted $2000 for the carpet, I apparently did a very good acting job. "I really can't pay more than $700," I said — or words to that effect. "But it's woven by hand," he replied, but I replied with a straight face that $700 was all I could pay. He left me in the store, found the shop owner, and returned to tell me my offer had been accepted ... as they hadn't made a sale all day.

Now gracing the front hallway of my home, this carpet brings back memories of Istanbul every day, the perfect travel souvenir.

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