I said that I would tell you about Mat-man, as I have decided to call him, and here I will fulfill that promise…
On Wednesday, after our interesting getting lost visit to the Grand Bazaar, me and Ange decided to head back to Sultanahmet to get some lunch, which we did at a lovely little place by the roadside. We sat outside, even though it was freezing – I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a kebab, freezing cold, outside and sober. I think we even wore gloves. But at least the outside heaters were on. Not that they did a lot of good. Having finished the delicious kebab, we headed on back towards the hotel to put more layers on, when we saw a mummy cat and her four kittens…yes! Four of the little buggers. All black they were as well. So there we were, admiring and cooing over the little darlings, when a man approaches us, talks about the kitties and asks the obligatory question that everyone had asked us while we’d been there – ‘Where are you from?’. So, we told him and he said that he liked England and London. He then mentioned that he had a little shop, just over the road which was good for little souvenirs. He told us that he would get us a business card, and we should follow him over to the shop. So we did. Hmmm, bit of a mistake, methinks.
We enter the shop, down a dingy alley and down some scary-ass steps to be greeted by his ‘brother’. I put ‘brother’ because I don’t believe him for a minute. He just wanted to create a welcoming atmosphere. The first thing that ‘brother’ said was that there was no obligation to buy. Alarm bells ringing yet??
We got a complimentary shot-glass of hot, apple tea (very nice, by the way, if a little sweet) and then we were shown the products. Lovely rugs and mats. All hand-crafted of course. Each with their own story. One was apparently showing Noah and his Ark. Couldn’t really see it myself. Just looked like some nice pretty patterns on a rug. I think that he uses that story for each mat, as we didn’t hear another story. He even had a certificate on the wall. I imagine it was from the university of blagging your way through trying to make a sale. I didn’t stop to check out the small print.
So, there are all these rugs on the floor, and they/we/I had chosen out the ‘best’ one. Well, they were all really nice. In a kind of pound shop kind of way. They then started talking prices. Extortion springs to mind. I wasn’t going to pay those kinds of prices for something I could get in Poundland, and something that wouldn’t clog up my suitcase, (even though I had half of Ange’s suitcase weight – in your face, Curtis!).
They started getting a little pushy, so I reminded them that they had said no pressure, and that I would think about it. This went on for about 5 minutes, so I decided enough was enough, put my shot-glass down, coveniently empty now, and made my way towards the stairs, with Ange following in hot pursuit. She somehow, (I think she must be Wonderwoman, or She-Ra), made it to the stairs first, and shot up them. I, however, was collared by ‘brother’ mat-man, and was grabbed by the arm, almost being begged to take the mat – he even mentioned that I could have it for free. Nope, not having it. I wrenched my arm away, and sprinted up the stairs.
We walked calmly away, passing mosques and happy people, openly cursing Mat-man, or should that be Mat-men? I told you that our first day was a learning curve.
Welcome to Istanbul, people, welcome to Istanbul.