Turkish tea and hospitality.

Konya Travel Blog

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Breakfast buffet at Hotel Rumi.
Today was Day One of a ten-day visit to Central Anatolia, Turkey. We spent the first half of the day in the city of Konya. We didn’t have high expectations of this town (based on our guide book), but were surprised to find a very pleasant, leafy, super clean, and friendly town.

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.
Konya's town hall.
There were no brochures on display, and no real tourist information to speak of, but one man did finally procure a poor excuse of a map. It was hidden in some drawer and he had a hard time finding it. So I set off again, bad map in hand, and after 10 minutes or so I finally came to the area where the banks are located. I spotted a promising-looking bank across the street and stood at the light, waiting to cross over. While I was there a man said “Hello! Can I help you?” I told him I was just going to the bank across the street. He said, “That’s a bad map! I have a good map. With pictures! Come with me!”

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.
Rug men.
So we had to go to another rug shop, just a couple blocks away. This was already taking a lot longer than I had expected. He told me to sit and relax while he dug out the map, which by the way was just as poor as the one I had. And then two cups of tea appeared as if by magic, and he sat next to me for a chat. He seemed concerned that I was traveling alone, and was relieved when I told him my husband was back at the hotel. He taught me the pronunciation for “thank you” in Turkish. And he gave me a brief education of the rugs of Turkey, indicating that all the rugs surrounding us were, indeed, for sale. But, no pressure, of course. Very nice, I said, but I don’t really have time right now… I finished my tea, thanked him many times, and was finally able to extricate myself from the shop, sans Turkish rug.
Typical local garb. Mevlana Museum.
 

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.
Whirling dervishes. (Photo from yogini.files.wordpress.com)
He then pointed out the location of his rug shop, encouraged me to come back with my husband, and we said our farewells.

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.
Roofline at Mevlana Museum.
)

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.
Small cemetary at Mevlana Museum.
Unfortunately, he could not change the ticket. He walked outside with us and tried to figure out the best course of action (we just wanted to move on, but he was determined to help, dammit). Soon a collection of locals was grouped around us, chattering away in Turkish. No one really seemed to know where the office was, but they were determined to help out. While they debated it all, we stood by and watched our watches... It was time for us to check out of the hotel. Soon enough, we were joined by the same rug guy who had helped me in the morning. (Small town!). Since he already “knew” me, it was apparently his responsibility to get us to our destination. He called a friend and said, “We’ll drive you! Just wait twenty minutes!” and we finally managed to explain that we really needed to leave and check out of the hotel.
And we're off!
So he walked us back there, then draw sketchy directions on our map, and we said goodbye once again.

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...
skippyed says:
I didn't rack up the same rug shop men as you did, we landed one! He said to us that there are two must sees in Konya first the Melvana museum second his shop! we did go in for a free cup of tea and he did give us a very good map but he didn't get very far in selling us a rug!!
Posted on: Apr 23, 2010
cmgervais says:
Yes, there are not many foreign tourists here in Konya, and blonds are few and far between. In fact I didn't see another blond all day. Plus, the country is 99% Muslim, so most (but not all) women had their heads covered.

That is great that you are coming here! I will try to be as helpful as possible. So far : WOW! It's incredible!

I will be in Turkey for a month total and am SO excited to explore it all.
Posted on: Jul 02, 2008
portia says:
were you the only blond, I wonder...
Posted on: Jul 02, 2008
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Breakfast buffet at Hotel Rumi.
Breakfast buffet at Hotel Rumi.
Konyas town hall.
Konya's town hall.
Rug men.
Rug men.
Typical local garb. Mevlana Museum.
Typical local garb. Mevlana Museum.
Whirling dervishes. (Photo from yo…
Whirling dervishes. (Photo from y…
Roofline at Mevlana Museum.
Roofline at Mevlana Museum.
Small cemetary at Mevlana Museum.
Small cemetary at Mevlana Museum.
And were off!
And we're off!
Breakfast at Hotel Rumi.
Breakfast at Hotel Rumi.
View from our hotel.
View from our hotel.
Hotel Rumi in all its turquoise sp…
Hotel Rumi in all its turquoise s…
Entrance to Mevlana Museum.
Entrance to Mevlana Museum.
Mevlana Museum.
Mevlana Museum.
Mevlana Museum.
Mevlana Museum.
Detail of a cemetery tablet outsid…
Detail of a cemetery tablet outsi…
Oh, yeah, they were REAL pleased t…
Oh, yeah, they were REAL pleased …
Mevlana Museum.
Mevlana Museum.
Mevlana Museum.
Mevlana Museum.
Serafettin Cami Mosque (1636).
Serafettin Cami Mosque (1636).
No wonder its so clean here...the…
No wonder it's so clean here...th…
Konya
photo by: herman_munster