Morocco vs Turkey: Street Merchants

Both Morocco and Turkey are well known travel destinations.  Both are known for their markets.  And you don’t have markets without vendors, sellers, merchants, etc.  And, unfortunately, merchants can seem aggressive and even scary to those who didn’t grow up with that sort of culture.

In Ankara, we barely saw any merchants, and those that we did see were mostly selling food, i.e. we weren’t their targets and they left us alone.  

In Istanbul, I saw quite a few merchants use “tricks” to attract customers.  Some of them would try to strike up a conversation and make small talk about this or that.  They always know where you are from, have been there, or know someone there. Sometimes they use a trick, like one guy who tried to tell me I had dropped something so I would turn around, talk to him, and buy his guide books.  Maybe because a lot of them speak pretty good English, they try to befriend tourists before trying to get them to buy something.  And then you’re already friends, after all.

In Morocco I noticed a lot fewer vendors calling people out and trying to get their attention.  There seemed to be more waiting until people approached, a more relaxed style, waiting until the buyer has expressed interest, which is great if you don’t like being accosted by salespeople.  However, that doesn’t mean they weren’t also skilled in convincing you to part with your money.  One guy gave us a free pastry sample before paying for it.  Same with a woman and some henna.  Another woman with henna tried to forcefully decorate my friend’s hand.  I’ve been told of other instances of things being thrust into hands followed by demands for money.

So, in Morocco people were more direct while in Turkey there were some wiles being employed in the markets.  In Turkey it seemed every merchant saw me and tried to get my attention, unlike in Morocco.  That would have made Morocco better, except for the odd merchant who tried to force us to buy from them.

I’m still getting used to merchants and markets, but the more I go there, the more comfortable and fun it is!  Never let nerves scare you away from such an interesting new experience!

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Antique Hostel in Istanbul is a little red building, tucked away on a quiet little street only a few blocks away from the biggest tourist attractions in all of Turkey.  For only a few dollars I got a room in a small four bed hostel room and a free breakfast of Turkish-style vegetables, eggs, cheeses, fruits, and breads.  From the cafe area you can look out over the rooftops toward the Bosphorus.  Out the front door and half a block over, then a block up, sits Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, surrounded by tourists and vendors.  So much difference only a few minutes makes, from a quiet historic street to a busy tourist area.  Definitely a great location!

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