The thing I liked most about our tour through Turkey was the variety. We saw ancient towns and modern cities. We walked through dark caves and high atop craggy rock formations.
We learned the intricacies of Turkish Carpet making and how to ‘throw a pot.’ We drank Turkish tea and stuffed our bellies full of kebabs and Gozleme (a savory Turkish flat pancake fried full of spinach, cheese, and other tasty delights). We belly danced, smoked traditional Nargileh (Hookah) Pipes, and even got nearly naked, washed, and scrubbed at a traditional Turkish Bath.
There were some requisite shopping stops built into our tour along the way. Leather is a huge commodity in Turkey. In fact, many of the leather jackets found in Italy or London are often made here. One day, we were taken to a Leather outlet to understand the production of these coats.
Much to our surprise, we were first treated to an odd little fashion show put on by the shop. We were herded into a room with a catwalk, disco ball, and loud thumping Turk-pop music. Tall, leggy blond gals strutted their stuff in high-heeled boots and micro-mini skirts while a couple young Turks donned big Ray Bans and showed off the latest in Men’s leather jackets.
It was hilarious—especially since there were only 13 of us in the room and I didn’t exactly feel like Paris Hilton in the front row at a big Dolce and Gabbana fashion show. I jokingly snapped some photos like a paparazzo and then, to my dismay or excitement, I’m still not sure which, I was grabbed up by one of the Turkish babes and pulled backstage to become one of the ‘models.’ At five-foot-four, and a constant ten (maybe 15 after this buffet-laden Turkey tour) pounds more than I’d like, runway modeling has never been one of my top career ambitions. They threw a beautiful brown hooded lambskin jacket on me and I strutted my stuff the best I could in my shorts and Teva hiking sandals.
I think a pair of heels might have helped my image, but it was all good fun and luckily my adoring fans (my tour mates) cheered me on, snapped pics and whistled.
It is really a brilliant marketing ploy—we all had good fun, and as planned, a few of my fellow passengers dug deep into their wallets and dropped some Turkish Lira on a few jackets and purses. Unfortunately, I did not get a perk for my five minute modeling job and was not offered any deep discounts. Ever the frugal traveler, I’d rather travel a few more months, than buy more ‘stuff.’ Well, actually, I’d already bought a leather jacket in Buenos Aires months ago!