We typically are not huge souvenir people. At most, Patrick will get a shirt and I will a dress from a local shop. Most of our souvenirs are pictures and memories. We even have an entire hallway dedicated to travel pictures where all of our “Christmas card photos” live in 8×10 frames. For every country we have been to together, we have a picture! If we get souvenirs at all, it isn’t the typical shot glass or post card. Below is a list of the souvenirs true to Turkish culture that we did end up bringing home and still cherish!
- Turkish Rug – You didn’t see that one coming, huh? As mentioned in an earlier post, rugs from Turkey have such a rich culture and are a beautiful art form. We have an all hardwood home, don’t spend much money on luxury goods (see family budget post), so it made sense for us to get the investment piece that was a Turkish rug for $1250. It is something we are still obsessed with 6 months later and it is in our hall of travel. It is a rug we will have forever.
- Backgammon – Many hotels and Airbnbs have backgammon sets in community rooms or even in your individual room, as the game was invented in Turkey. We didn’t know how to play and were usually too busy tromping around to learn, that is until we went out to Cappadocia. Our cave hotel, Estebelli Evi, had 3 sets in our room and it is a more relaxing country environment so we took it upon ourselves to learn. The next 4 days in Urgup, Cappadocia we played a few games before bed every night! It was fun, short, not difficult and easy to drink wine with. It made too much sense to get a set for ourselves at the Grand Bazaar on our way home through Istanbul. We spent $12 on our set.
- Turkish Delights – These didn’t really make it home with us… but in theory you could practice self-control on the flight and not take down an entire box! Turkish Delights are inexpensive, infinite flavor options, these gelatin sweets are delightful like the name suggests. You can find them a plenty at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and there are several free standing sweet shops where you can buy by the pound. We spend $5 and balled out on Turkish delights. Patrick didn’t care for the texture so I got to enjoy 95% of them myself!
- Iznik Tile – In the mosques and the palace in Istanbul we fell in love with iznik tile. All the patterns were unique but in the same aqua blue color. Iznik is no longer manufactured or readily available in the pure sense, but as we were visiting the town of Goreme in Cappadocia we came across Sitki Ceramic House & Art Gallery. They had local artists work in their shop and we found two coasters (although we wouldn’t put anything on them ever) that were handcrafted by the daughter of a famous artist. Or so we were told. Two coasters are now prominently displayed and cost us $55. Definitely expensive for what they were, but it is original art.
- Hot Air Balloon / Ornament – We didn’t fork over the $400-500 USD it would take to actually take a hot air balloon ride, and family friends of Patrick literally broke their spine and leg in a hot air balloon accident in New Mexico, so the fun and safe alternative was to go watch them “take off” at 6am from the safety of our car. I picked up a cute stuffed animal -esque hot air balloon souvenir that will be going on our Christmas tree every year. We spent maybe $5 on it.
- Tea Glasses – Tea is offered everywhere. Hotels, restaurants prior to the meal, after the meal, waiting for something, in a shop, literally everywhere. The usual thing about the tea in turkey is it is served out of an hourglass shape glass. It is very beautiful and there were several sets in shops near tourist areas. My last bit of Turkish lira equated to about $30, and our neighbor asked us to bring some home for her since she adored these tea glasses. Instead of figuring out an exchange on the way back home, I just bought a set with my remaining cash in the airport in Istanbul. They were overpriced but came in a nice box and I knew they would make it back safely. I wasn’t about to purchase tea glasses early in the trip and then carry it around Turkey on multiple in-country flights.
- Wine – Another item that didn’t exactly make it home with us was Turusan wine from Urgup, Cappadocia. This wine tasting and distribution center was walking distance from our cave hotel, so we went more than once to buy bottles of Turkish wine. The delicious wine region was not something we expected from Turkey since we had never heard of it before, nor really had access to in Dallas, Texas. We spent $11 on the “high end” bottle. The entry level was probably $4 or $5 USD.
For non-souvenir people we ended up spending ~$1363. We have loved and cherish each item consumed or brought home with us. Next trip to turkey are you going to get any of the above?
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