I did not post yesterday because nothing interesting happened, other than we called companies to try to get partnership or in-kinds. We won’t know until Monday if any of it worked. We smoked shisha for a long time on Friday night and there was supposed to be a party afterwards, and there kind of was but I never caught it.
Today was cool. Had to wake up right early to get on the bus with the gang to go into town, the tourist part of Istanbul. We saw the Basilica Cistern, the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, and went haggling at the Grand Bazaar. The first three were the usual tourist bit, and the Blue Mosque was the first functional mosque I’ve ever been in. I had to remove my shoes and the women who were wearing shorts had to get these shawls and such to put over their legs and their heads, and we went in and saw it and there were about 10 people praying. The Hagia Sophia is no longer functional as a mosque or a church, just a museum, but it was pretty sweet except for the large amount of scaffolding in the middle for restoration work. After Blue Mosque we ate at a place right next to the Pudding Shop, the place for people on the “hippie trail” to meet in Istanbul on their way to Kathmandu back in the day.
At the Grand Bazaar we split up in fragments and walked around, and I found a few places where I could get some sweet shirts of an “exotic” variety to a very boring American person. Between the four of us we decided we wanted five shirts, and although the dude told us the price was 20YTL (about $15.71) per shirt, we eventually beat him down to 62YTL for all five (about $48.71, so just under $10 per shirt). One of the Turkish CC members with us told us that the seller was trying to enlist his help against us – talk about good marketing skills, if we can beat a Turkish bazaar dealer! Later the four of us who got the shirts – myself, Will from the UK, Ivan from Serbia, and Andrei from Romania, were sitting outside at a cafe terrace when this guy came up and pushed some small rugs on us. I had considered getting a quality rug earlier, but it would be too expensive and any one I could remotely afford would have been to heavy to carry around in my bags to carry home. So I was just screwing around with the guy who initially wanted EUR50 per rug of two rugs, but I got him down to 20YTL for one. We figured he had stolen the rugs. He was still hawking them at the entrance to one part of the bazaar. We ate late at the university and just sat outside and drank for a little bit. It’s late now and tomorrow we have a full day.