Friday, 21 June 2013

An Adventure in Selçuk, in Which More Carpets Are Purchased

Another long bus ride to get to Selçuk. While there are a lot of small carriers flying from tiny airports all over Turkey, most of them have a rather inconvenient schedule and they usually only fly a couple times a week. If you could make it work for you, it's an easy way to get around. Otherwise, you are taking a bus. While we did look into car rentals at one point, gasoline here was ridiculously expensive. Filling the tank of a compact car would have cost "For a few dollars more you could have bought a house" amounts. Bus travel was cheap, they ran frequently, and they were generally on time. In fact, you barely saw any other type of vehicle on the roads in rural areas.

Selçuk is a small tourist-town that borders the ancient ruins of Epheus, and if you didn't get to Epheus by cruise ship, this is one of the only places where you can find lodging around. It claims the ruins of the temple of Artemis, but by ruins, I mean ruins. Theres an odd stubby pilar or two in a field.

At this point in our trip, our clean clothes had run out, and the hotel was nice enough to take on the job. Unfortunately, it ended up being a complete disaster and we ended up leaving Selçuk with our bags laden with still-damp clothes, and an overtired hotel manager shrugging and telling us that we simply gave him too much to do. Lesson learned. Necessitates only.

We walked around Selçuk and planeed to hit the ruins of Epheus as soon as it opened the next morning. We heard nightmareish descriptions of how packed the ruins get once the cruise ships and tour buses arrive. Like, comparisons to Times Square crowded.

Isa Bey is an 800 year old Mosque that was supposedly built by people who didn't know what a proper Mosque looks like, so they built it based on the Roman and Greek temples and churches in the area.


One of the things I really liked about Turkey was that if you were dressed properly, you were allowed to go into the Mosques as long as it wasn't prayer-time. While we were traveling in Morocco, we weren't even allowed to peer in the doorway without being shooed away, so it gave the whole country a more friendly, welcoming vibe.


Most of them were amazing inside. Light, airy places with soaring domed ceilings and intricate chandeliers.

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As the sun set, I stumbled upon a row of carpet dealers.


Oh, hello there. I had happened upon Lily's, who perhaps was the only lady carpet dealer in the area, and the only one I met the entire trip. She was a chatty, friendly, worldly sort of woman. She had a very small selection, but everything was very high quality. I didn't want to wait until Istanbul to buy as it would be more expensive there, and probably more bothersome as the competition is fierce and the whole sales pressure thing drives me a bit batty.

While traditional turkish carpets are generally knotted (as opposed to flat woven) I only really cared for the really high-end ones, where the knots were tiny and the design edges were crisp. A cheap turkish carpet looked cheap. It wasn't in the stars for me to go home with a $40,000 persian carpet that took three people a year to make, but I also found some really nice kilims, which are tapestry woven and embroidered.

The traditional Anatolian designs were lovely- geometric, not too busy. The yellow one above was a favorite, but we ended up with a game plan of getting three smaller ones instead. We already have two large carpets from our Moroccan adventure, and I really didn't see the sense of buying another big one when we don't even know where we might live next year.


There's just something so appealing about handmade carpets. They warm up the room and they will last you a lifetime, and it totally makes me smile to think of all the places we've been to get them, and all the places they will move with us in the future. A real flying carpet.

Tea was poured, and we sipped as they pulled out rug after rug from the stack, and then cleared away the ones we were meh about. Lily had a great eye- as soon as I liked one, she would pull out all the other similar ones she had, or ones she thought I would like.


I told her assistant, "Go to New York, you should really consider working in pizza there", as he spun the carpets in the air overhead.

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We came back the next morning before our flight, haggled like the dickens over more tea, and in the end she wrapped up three small kilims in a tiny (but heavy) carry-on bag. The lovely kilims are currently scattered around the Parisian apartment, helping me contemplate the future and envision which floors they might grace a year from now.

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