We ordered room service for breakfast in order to disembark early for our first day in Turkey. We did not want to waste a minute of the short time we had to explore this Port. We knew there would be fabulous textiles, spices and foods that were beyond anything we have seen or tasted in the States. Once we disembarked and stepped onto the Pier we noticed some locals offering a Pedi cab ride for 2 EUR each. This was something different and looked fun so we decided to grab a ride to the Port Shoppes. We got settled in our Pedi cab and were laughing at our audacity of allowing another human to pedal us around like royalty for just 2 EUR. Once we reached the end of the Pier, no more than 200 yards, the Pedi cab driver, maneuvered behind a concrete wall that separated the Port Shoppes from the Pier. This is where our adventure begins.
Behind the wall wheelchairs were neatly lined up as if staged for the startup of a race. The Pedi cab driver motioned each of us out of the bench seat of our cab and into wheelchairs as a couple of locals rolled us down the street toward the Shoppes. This all happened so quickly that we were in shock. Laughing and not believing that we just allowed strangers to whisk us down the street in wheelchairs, oblivious to what was happening or where we were going. We turned the corner and were rolled into a large showroom of exotic handwoven Turkish carpets. Our wheelchairs were whipped around and in front of us stood large man facing us and waving his arms over his head saying, ‘Welcome… see all of these beautiful handwoven carpets’. It was a moment that could have been right out of a movie set. We were both laughing so hard. It was then that we realized these business people had figured out a way to get a captive audience. Directly from the ship to the Rug Store, ingenious! We got out of our chairs and walked around looking at the luxurious rugs, pillows and tapestries. The shop owner made us feel very welcome and comfortable. We made small talk while perusing the stacks of goods. The owner offered to show us some of his special stock and lead us upstairs to a nearly empty room. The room was carped and had a decorative carved bench seat covered in velvet at the back of the room, some chairs and a table with freshly brewed tea. As he poured himself a cup of tea, he sat on the bench and offered us a glass of this special Turkish tea. It was then that he mentioned that he liked us and would like to do business with us. We were both holding pillows that we had picked out downstairs and in addition had eyeballed some rugs that we each liked. We were interested in purchasing those items so we answered back that we were definitely interested in doing business. Soon we found out that purchasing pillows and rugs was not the business that he was talking about….
He asked us if he could send a shipment of rugs to our residences in Florida and in return he would give us a free rug (valued at $3,000 US). With a trip to Florida planned he intended on shipping the rugs to visitors like us to avoid the high taxes that are imposed on the local businesses for shipping outside of the county. Of course, we declined his offer, paid for our goods and exited the shop as fast as our legs would carry us.
Needless to say, that experience showed us how quickly you can get caught up in the moment, in the adventure and totally put yourself in a vulnerable position. I would highly recommend the Pedi cab ride for 2 EUR but please take this lesson from us… don’t under any circumstances allow yourselves to be swept away and isolated. Although this ended fine and gives us an exciting story that we can share, I don’t recommend taking chances. We definitely did not have our guard up and this story could have had a very different ending.
Moral of the story is have fun but always make sure you are in control when you are traveling in a foreign county.