Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cruising the Mediterranean - Part 6 Kusadasi

Cruising the Mediterranean
Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5

After leaving Ephesus, we found ourselves in a slightly awkward position.  Since we had plenty of time before lunch our guide asked if we would like to visit a Leather shop and we agreed.  It was the oddest thing.  

We found ourselves greeted eagerly and ushered into a backroom with comfy seats and a runway.  Yes... a fashion catwalk.  We were handed a cold glass of apple tea (yummy), paper and pencil.  The lights went out and the music blared and we were presented with a full-on fashion show featuring leather coats and jackets. 

Just the two of us, sitting there conspicuously at the end of the runway, while a dozen male and female Turkish models paraded up and down complete with strutting and twirling.  It was pretty surreal.  We then spent some time in their showroom looking at a huge range of leather coats, jackets and purses.  We felt like we should buy something because they went to such an effort, but were able to make our escape without a new leather good.  They were so nice, but it was a little odd.  

We were then taken to the Carpet Cooperative. 

I had read about other experiences with the rug co-ops and we were aware that their goal was to sell us a rug.  We had no intention of purchasing, but were interested in learning about the process.  We started at the large looms where women were making large cotton rugs.  

It's a very intricate and detailed process.  They let me have a go making a few knots.  It takes months to make one of these large rugs.

We then learned about how they made silk threads from these cocoons. The caterpillar will spin his cocoon with one long thread that can be up to 25,000 meters long.  The cocoons are placed in a vat of water to soften them up. 

This brush is used to catch the ends of the silk strings.  

The strands are fed through a small metal spool and attached to a reel that then pulls and unwinds the silk from the cocoon.  About 20 strings are fed through to make one strand of silk thread.  You can just see the strands feeding into the ring in the photo below. 

The silk is then dyed and used to make gorgeous silk rugs with about 1,000,000 knots per square meter that can take up to a year to produce.  

We were taken into a large showroom and carpet after carpet were unrolled for us by several young men.  The older man in charge was a smooth as the silk rugs.  He offered us local wine and Turkish coffee.  We were encouraged to take off our shoes and walk on the rugs.  We were completely relaxed and really just wanted to have the experience.  The rugs are fantastic and we had a great time interacting with everyone.  

We then broke for lunch which was perfect.  We were served the most wonderful, authentic dishes.  They had a grill fired up for a Turkish barbecue.  Our tour guide joined us and we had our best meal of the cruise on that shady lawn.  There was even a friendly, fat puppy roaming around to add to the smiles.  For dessert we were served juicy, chilled watermelon and peaches.  Our guide left us and our talk turned to the beautiful rugs.  

Even though we had no intention of purchasing a rug, we decided to bring one home.  We had loved our day in Turkey.  We loved the rugs.  We wanted to celebrate TE's 100th country. Why not?

After a little negotiating, we purchased this silk-on-silk prayer rug with a Tree of Life motif.  Instead of having them ship it to us, we just had them wrap it up for us to take back to the ship. 

We've heard all of the warnings about purchasing a rug in Turkey.   Tourists from the cruise ships are the major source of income at most of the ports they visit.  This is how they make a living and sometimes tourists are easy prey for a rip-off.  We were completely aware that our tour would include enticements to shop.  But we just decided to relax, smile, enjoy the interactions and only purchase if we really wanted to.  

After learning how to say "Thank You" in Turkish, we left our  guide and driver at the port and spent a little bit of time walking through the markets.   Be prepared to really be bombarded with the hard sell.  Again, I think it's all about your attitude.  Just smile, keep a sense of humor and enjoy the experience. 


Our stop in Turkey was our favorite of the cruise.  I'm so glad we were able to visit this beautiful country.  Since we've returned I've done a little bit of research and I feel we got an authentic rug at a reasonable price.  We have no 'buyers remorse' at all.  But, I would suggest that even if you don't plan to purchase a rug, do some research so that if you change your mind, you have a basic knowledge to guide you. 

I'd love to hear about your experience shopping in Turkey.  



  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed your time in Turkey because we loved it there. We specifically went on an excursion to buy a carpet and we saw some beautiful ones but none that would have seemed right in the home we had at that time. I like to buy something local wherever I visit, as well as sampling the food, of course. Having said that, I am the worst person to sell to. I make my own decisions and do not take well to hard selling at all.

  2. We did turkey recently off Noordam .we shopped for leather at narcissus in the bazaar I bought 1bomber jacket for my son and 3/4 coat for me for 500$ he gave me a third jacket for my other son .....no charge .i was flabbergasted my son loves it
    His worker tried it on just to give me an idea of the look
    I highly recommend narcis and his store
    I cannot wait to wear my coat on cool days ...too soon to come in Montreal

    I loved food in turkey .our guide from Ephesus deluxe in Miletus took us to the best place . I had requested a fresh fish lunch we got that plus a salad bar to die for .everything was delicious .my son wondered where all the women were ....I replied home preparing all this stuff .the combinations of veggies were outstanding .we are still raving about it
    Definitely want to see more of turkey
    Our guide was worried about fundamentalism creeping in .what a shame because I found turkey open and beautiful I hope that does not change anytime soon
    I found places clean and modern turkey is a place I would love to return to


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