These days, between an interview and the next, and between a mosque and a bazaar, we’ve also found the time to get scammed.
We were walking up the stairs of an alley by the Galata Tower. A young shoe-shine fellow comes down the other side and, right close to us, looses a brush. What would you do?? “Ehy mate, you lost your tool!” He smiles. He is so thankful. “Wait, wait. Come here, I clean your shoes!”. He acts very fast. Two seconds and he’s good and ready, seat and stool, close to your leg. He chats a river, no way to say no. “Ok.” And there you go: “Where do you come from?” “Do you like Istanbul?” “You know, i have a kid; but i know you are gonna help me. It’s 18LT.” “What?” “I mean 8.” Finally he got 5LT. It’s just 1 euro something. But you leave and you didn’t even know how it happened that you got your trekking shoes washed in a rainy day.
It took a good 5 minutes to realise the brush did not fall accidentally. It always hurts being fooled. All the more in this case because the guy abused of my kindness and naivety. It turned out this is quite a common scam. And not the only one (in another recurring one two guys pretend to be tourists and bring you for a drink or two to a bar which is going to overprice you). After the Balkans we came back to a place where prices are often not listed and the genuineness of the people we bump into must be double-checked. Some people are super-nice. Some just want your money. It sucks. However, it must be said they are isolated cases and the vast majority is actually warm and open, and happy to see foreigners coming in this period of political and social instability. Istanbul still shines in our minds.