Turkish tea and hospitality.
Konya Travel Blog› entry 126 of 251 › view all entries
July 1st, 2008 – by: cmgervais
I started the morning off trying to find some cash, since everything had been closed when we arrived last night. I set off from the hotel and found that the shops were just opening up. Almost all of them on the street near the hotel were selling something that looked like... marshmallows? Stacks and stacks of marshmallows. Loads of marshmallows. I did not buy any.
I soon ran across a tourist information building and stopped in. Two men inside seemed surprised to see me, and even more surprised that I would want a map.
I followed him because I didn’t seem to have a choice in the matter, and we went into a rug shop (“aha!” I thought). I sat and waited while he looked, but there were none of the good maps there.
When I walked into bank, you would have thought I was an alien who just popped by in her spacecraft. Everyone in the bank (and it was jammed packed), turned from what they were doing to stare at me. Not shy, surreptitious stares… this was full on GAWKING. I felt just a little conspicuous. They didn’t cash traveler’s checks, so I skedaddled from there as fast as I could.
As I was walking to the next bank, I was approached by yet another man. “Hello! You look American! I love Seattle! Can I help you?” I explained that I was just going to the bank to cash traveler’s checks, and he took it upon himself to escort me there, butt ahead in the line for me, and confirm that the bank didn’t take traveler’s checks. He wanted to bring me to another bank, but I was sure Steve was starting to worry at this point, so I just said I would use the cash machine.
It took four banks and several machines for me to find one that would give me cash. Then I met Steve on the street on my way back to the hotel. He accused me of being lost again, and I explained that I had been held pseudo-hostage by tea-proffering rug men. Then we walked off to see the city.
Our first stop was the Mevlana Museum. This museum is actually the mausoleum of the poet/mystic/philosopher Mevlana Celalledin Rumi (1207 - 1273). Among other accomplishments, he founded the Order of the Mevlevi, which is known for its ritual of the Whirling Dervishes. (I had never heard of this until I saw them on the Amazing Race…it’s completely famous here.
The museum was a collection of tombs (topped with carved stone turbans -- that’s a new one), old rugs and clothing, prayer books, and that sort of thing. It was very busy with locals and foreigners, and again I found myself the subject of the same scrutiny I had experienced while walking through town. Several times I was asked, “Deutche?” and my negative response brought disappointment. I understand that many people in Turkey speak German, so I guess they were hoping to put it to use. English, on the other hand, seems far less common here than anywhere else we have been.
After the museum, we set off to find a Turkish Airlines office, as I have a ticket I need to change there. We found a travel agent with the Turkish Air logo out front, but no one spoke English so we waited for their English-speaker to come in.
We never found the Turkish Air office, despite a good long drive around the city. We did see a good number of interesting old mosques, some nice neighborhoods, and the ancient remains of a palace along the way.
We decided to stop at the airport on our way out of town -- surely there would be a ticket counter there. Well, no… Turkish Air was closed. In the middle of the day! A helpful man took me under his wing, brought me to his office FOR TEA, and said I could just wait there for the six hours until they opened up again. Um, no. Hilarious. I guess I need to learn how to politely extricate myself from these situations!
So we gave up on Turkish Air, and headed off to the amazing and indescribable Cappadocia, which will be a separate entry...
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