It's good to be the sultan
We've spent the last few days in Istanbul seeing as much as we can, which is only a fraction of what there is to see. I'll start with the palace where Chris left off. The palace has four gates, four courtyards. The deeper you go into the complex, the closer you got to the portions where only the Sultan was allowed. I can sum the whole thing up by saying it was ENORMOUS and BEAUTIFUL. Just the Harem, the residence of the sultan, his 4 wives and their sons, his 9 "favorites" and the other women servants in his concubine, has 400 rooms. We only took pictures in about 387 of those. Just kidding. Every inch was covered in marble or elaborately painted tiles. The complex also housed rooms for all kinds of official business, kitchens, housing for guards, etc. etc. etc. In teh collection of Jewels is the 7th largest diamond in teh world. It was found in a trash dump, sold to a peddler for 3 spoons. When it was discovered to be real, the sultan had it brought to the palace and set first in a ring. I don't think the spoon peddler got anything out of the deal.
Before heading to the palace that morning Chris and I went shopping for shirts. Rather venting frustrations about shopping in the U.S. I will ask you to refer to teh story about the pants. There were so many shirts in this one shop, and they all fit so well, and they were all so inexpensive. I won't say how much we bought, but I will say the shop owner thought we spent enough to take 10% off at the end just because. That 10% could have bought another shirt or two.
There are so many people from all over the world here that the shop owners can usually tell where a person is from very quickly. Everyone except Chris that is. People think he is Russian very often, one person thought he was from Holland. We asked one of our waiters how he could tell where people were from. Fairly well set in his stereotypes, he offered all kinds of funny descriptions about people from all over the world. About Americans (people from the U.S.) he said that they ignore him when he tries to get them to eat at his restaurantthey and they have big bottoms.
The shop owners and waiters really go out of their way to get you to come to their business. They will meet you blocks away from their store to start hassleing you. They will be very open about the fact that they are hassling you. "I never hassle Dutch people like this. They are so rude." If they spend a few minutes talking to you, and then realize you have no intention of going to their shop, they may insult you. "I can tell you have no money, so I won't waste my time any more, yes?" Others are very helpful however. Even when we tell them right away we aren't interested, they will still walk with us for a while, find out our plans for the day or week, and then give us tips to make our day more enjoyable. "Get of the tram one stop early to walk along the beach at a nice park." "Watch out for this type of scam when you go to that city." Etc.