We made it out of Turkey without buying a carpet


We got a kilim instead.

I really thought that we might make it.  We didn’t even stop at the carpet shops as we passed through the Bazaars of Istanbul – we just weren’t all that interested.  In Cappadocia we actually stayed one night in the pensione attached to a carpet house, but again not all that interested.  By the time we made it to Kayseri we still weren’t particularly interested (at least I wasn’t). 

A young man chased us down to “practice his English” and escort us on a tour of the city as we did some wandering through the old town here, and it just happened that his uncle is a carpet merchant, and somehow our tour ended up in that section of the Bazaar in Kayseri.  As an aside, the bazaar in Kayseri is way better than the one in Istanbul.  People actually shop there, rather than just putting on the show for the tourists.  Anyway, back to the main story.  We had tea and talked about the history of the carpet industry and the various types of finished product they produce – there are four.  We talked about where we live in New York and how he travels across Turkey working as a wholesaler to the various regions with his 80-90 employees working on the manufacture of products for him in the outskirts of town.  We talked about why they couldn’t share tea with us (Ramazan) and how the guy was featured in a book (From Here to There) that was a travel memoir of some guy who passed through about 20 years ago.

After all the talking and a rather delicious glass of apple tea he finally started in on the sales process.  It was everything I expected, with the guy going through quite a few of the kilims in the store to show us a variety of options in various colors, patterns and themes.  And I was completely ready to walk out without buying if none of them met my fancy.  One of them, however, did.  It is apparently made of undyed yarn with the various colors coming naturally from the sheep.  And I like the pattern, as an added bonus.  Finally, as we eliminated a couple dozen of the other options and got down to the two carpets we’d consider some prices were tossed about.  They were in the ballpark and I figured that the piece was nice enough that I’d take a stab at the negotiations.  He started with the asking price and I came in at about half of that.  He started to come down and I inched up a hair, but really not much at all, guessing that I was probably already over the minimum he’d accept and knowing that I’d be OK walking away without the piece.  The end of the negotiations went something like this:

Him: What’s your absolute maximum?
Me: Nnn <Number omitted to protect the innocent>
Him: I’ve come down 200 and you’ve only come up 50.  Be reasonable.
Me: I started at Zero.  I’ve moved further on the number than you have.  And that’s my maximum.
Him: Shake my hand.  Let’s go to the cash machine to get the money.

And then the deal was done.  I’m still not completely sure that I can get it packed into my suitcase to make it home without carrying it as a brown paper bundle on the airplane, but that just adds to the fun.  And it really is a beautiful piece, even if I did pay more than I had to for it.  Besides, the rug it is replacing is vile, so I’m happy to be able to get rid of that.

Other than the kilim, nothing really all that impressive to recommend Kayseri as a destination while in Turkey.  We probably wouldn’t be here at all if it weren’t for the 6:45am flight out tomorrow.  And it certainly presents challenges for tourists, particularly those who don’t speak much Turkish.  We managed to get by at dinner and it was actually quite delicious (Iskander, if you’re ever here and looking for something to eat), but if we hadn’t already been here a week I fear that the results would not have been so positive.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .
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