When we got into Istanbul, we were in a good mood and ended up taking the metro and tram to our hostel, rather than the taxi our guidebook said would cost €10. And it ended up being mostly fine, except that the muffin, which we had brought from the US, and which started to fall apart on our last flight, got completely flattened. But overall, we had a good first impression. I think I kind of expected to be hassled a lot, like when you first arrive in Thailand, but we got off mostly unbothered, perhaps because it was too early in the day and/or too early in the season. I think also, because I was expecting it to be much worse than it actually was, nothing really bothered me.
We arrived in our tiny hostel room that is almost completely taken up by 4 twin beds to find eviladmin there, using the free wireless internet, an unadvertised but welcome benefit of our hostel. He reported that he spent his afternoon carpet shopping, and even found the ones he was looking for, but to negotiate his discount, he promised to bring back his friends the next day. Well, it sounded harmless enough. After some time waiting and trying to look up r6's flight info, he finally arrived, and explained that someone helped him find the hostel (the map on the hostel site was completely useless; we only found it by way of the Lonely Planet map), but he promised to let the guy show him around town. So after a couple hours in Istanbul, we already had two appointments lined up for us.
We had the guy show us to a restaurant, since we were hungry. He led us to this nice place a little off the main streets, which was full of policemen when we arrived. Must be the local equivalent of a donut shop. We tried three different kinds of kebap, which were nice enough, and we also got introduced to apple tea, which is very yummy. Our "guide"'s English was not too great, but we spent some time explaining where we came from, what we liked about Turkey, and so on. After our meal, he lamented that all the museums were closed, but he wanted to invite us to his cousin's shop for a cup of tea, which apparently means somewhere between 10 and 20 years friendship. How could we refuse?
His cousin's shop, of course, sold carpets; eviladmin was already full up on his carpet shopping, and r6 decided he was not in the market, but fanlain and I thought a bit about whether we'd like to have a carpet for our new dining room. We ended upseeing a good number of carpets, including one that we really liked; this one, the shopkeeper explained, was a "special" carpet made for a dowry some number of years ago. I even spent some time thinking about how much I'd be willing to pay for something like that, which was difficult, since we weren't really budgeting for buying a carpet on this trip. Fortunately, the guy made things easier by naming a price that was three and a half times higher that I was willing to go.
He was clear, however, about being willing to significantly lower the price, but of course, unwilling to tell me by how much. Now, the carpet was really nice, so I tried to explain to him that we'd think a bit more about it, try to look at our budget, and maybe make him a better offer. This prompted a litany of reasons why I needed to make the decision now, not tomorrow or the next day. Surprisingly, he didn't pull out the old trick of "I have a customer who was interested in this carpet earlier today" (perhaps that's less plausible in low season), but he did bring up that being the last customer of the day would be good luck. He repeatedly asked me to put my hand on my heart and decide how much the carpet was worth, without thinking more about it, and I repeatedly told him that I was unwilling to do that. Finally, he explained that in Turkey, they had a saying that you need to eat the soup while it's warm and I should buy the carpet now rather than walking out of the store. I then replied that in my country, when someone gives you an argument like that, they're trying to get you to buy into a bad deal, and with that we left.
He ran after us in the street and made me a final offer that was less than half his original price, but still more than my maximum; I excused myself to quickly consult with my friends and finally told him that fanlain says we need to think about it more, defering to the "manager" trick to avoid further argument. He looked disappointed, but finally left us alone.
Afterwards, I was trying to decide whether this was more or less pleasant than the car buying experience. I think this was more entertaining (at one point, he jokingly suggested that if we had trouble paying for our house and wedding because of the carpet, he would send us money to help!), and we didn't really have anything better to do. Of course, we'll see how it goes this morning; eviladmin said that it's more likely that the carpet shop he promised to bring us to will find us a carpet we like at a good price. I guess we should decide on what that is before we go...