Old Istanbul = Basar + Hamam

Yes it took me until Wednesday to go to the Grand Basar! On the way there I visited the rhinestone shop again. I figured that I wouldn't have another chance very soon to buy hot fix stones this cheap so I'd better get more colors!

I only got just a little lost in the side streets when I walked up to the Grand Basar.... There I checked out if all the shops on my shopping guide list were still around - just to find out that some were actually not there anymore!
I also went for a chat with Erkan at the big Ali Baba store. He told me that a lot of dancers who come to buy from him mention that they found him through my website. It's great do know that something I do helps a lot of people - dancers as well as costume vendors!

I walked around some more and found other shops that were still there as well as the infamous cheap postcard cymbals...




After that I took the tram to Aksaray where there are 3 costume shops in one building. I started with the one on the top, Giz Moda. They have nice stuff at very good prices, although I would definitely have to have their very open skirts closed for some modesty!
But every belt I tried on was a bit too small for me anyway. So much for: "You have lost weight"!

Then I went to Sim, more elaborate costumes and higher prices, and yes, everything just a bit too tight as well. Thank you, Asian dancers with you tiny hips! Everything is clearly cut for you!



It didn't matter since I had only intended these two as a warm up before going to San Eil. I had been there previously and really liked their designs but nothing had fit me. But since they always take pictures of people trying on the costumes, I am in their Facebook gallery now.

The shop is owned by two brothers of who one is the designer who sews the costume and the other (I think his name is Saban) serves the customers in very basic English. Saban even greeted me by name - eventhough I had never bought anything there!

I tried on a gorgeous costume in white, blue and turquoise. But I had to remind myself that I already have a costume in these colors - and I am not ready to sell it yet. I went through a few more models that were nice but just not the right thing. Through out all of this, Saban was very nice and patient - I never had the feeling that he wanted to push me into buying anyhing.
Then I put on that teal costume! Perfect fit, a color and style that I don't have yet... It just screamed "buy me!"

Unfortunately it cost way over what I had intended to spend. It took some bargaining and much hope that the remaining cash would be enough until Sunday (Luckily I had already put aside the money for the other two costumes).
I paid for most of it - I had to come back on Saturday anyway because they needed some time to adjust the hooks and change some details.

Here's a picture of the costume, photographed by Michael Baxter:
All this shopping gave me quite an appetite. So I went to a restaurant near the hamam that intended to go to later. They have saray kebap which is different from your usual kebap and comes with mashed potatoes. Very yummy!

In the hamam I noticed some slight changes. First of all my massager was a young woman - when up until then I have always been served by older women. They also seem to have become more prudish. It's the first time anybody covered up my lady parts for the scrub and massage.
I kind of prefer the old school "We're all naked, so what" attitude. (OK the massagers are always in underwear.)

I had a relaxing experience anyway. It was already dark when I got out so I took the tram and tünnel instead of walking home (my feet did not complain!).

I went back to my habit of taking a nap before going out to tango and it sure paid off. That and the sugar rush from two eclairs prepared me for the 333 milonga that night. It's a dance school in an old building so it has a nice wooden floor, a high ceiling - and definitely not enough chairs for everybody. Well, we are supposed to dance anyway!
I wore my second pair of new shoes and they were very good to dance in. Towards the end of the evening I danced several tandas with a very nice dancer - who was a bit too much into me... He really only spoke Turkish so having a conversation was not an option. I knew that he would want to walk me home so I asked Claude to be my chaperonne since his hotel was on the same way.

It was close to 2 PM and we marvelled at the fact that there were still so many people walking around on a normal Wednesday night!