Istanbul & the Tout Experience Part Two

Walking around here, I feel like I always have to keep my guard up. It’s been hard for me to get any hardcore sightseeing done. Everywhere I go, I am talked at by some random man, be it a tout, shop owner or restaurant promoter.

On the first few occasions, I stopped to talk to a few of these random men until but now it’s become a bit agitating to go through the same spiel, answering the same questions, numerous times a day.

Five questions you will be asked by everyone you stop and talk to:

  1. Where you from? 
  2. Why are you here?
  3. Who are you with?
  4. Are you alone?!? WHY? (This is usually expressed in a tone of shock and surprise)
  5. Where are you staying? (Yeah, like I’d tell ya!)

Not to mention the dent it puts in an itinerary by sitting down and having tea with random people. At first it’s charming but by the fourth conversation, you’re left wondering where your day went.

I mean, I knew when I chose to stay in the touristy area of Sultanahmet that I was going to experience this, but I had no idea that it would be to this degree. I understand the touting part of trying to get people into their shops is their job, but my thing is — does it really get you more sales? For me as a potential customer, it’s a total turn off. Don’t harass me. If I want to buy something, I’ll let you know.

But it doesn’t end with the shops. Every time I walk by this restaurant next to my guesthouse, I pass the same guy who approaches me and shoves his menu in my face while reciting it, “Tavuk şiş! Adana kepab! Pide! Fresh fish!” in order to try and get me to sit down and eat. Every. Time.

Can’t a girl just walk down the street?

I have adopted my earphones and mp3 player as my weapon of defense when going out now, because I found this way no one bothers me with the whole “Where you from?” spiel.

I feel like I am being a bitch but this nonstop attention is wearing me down. I should be enjoying this city that everyone calls “magical” and instead I’m dodging touts and not enjoying myself at all.

Maybe it’s because I am traveling alone, maybe it is because I am a woman traveling alone, but I feel like I can never have a minute where someone isn’t trying to either fuck me or sell me something.

Maybe it’s also because where I’m from, no one really cares about what you are doing because they are too concerned with what they are doing. I am not used to random people expecting me to engage in conversation with them so often. I guess it is something that I have to get used to, since I am going to be here for a while.

I’ve decided that I’m going to take a new approach to it instead of abruptly halting them mid-sentence or walking away without making eye contact.

I am going to start to engage them and entertain the situation.

Maybe I will actually start to enjoy myself more. And if not, well I’m sure that approach will make for more interesting experiences than me just shrugging them off or pretending that they don’t exist.

*photo of Istanbul by stephulu


  • Melinda Boyle May 24, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    I had the same experience when I was there! We were even followed down the street by some carpet shop guy. I like Turkey, but I didn’t like Istanbul either! Rock on!

    • Indie Chick Travels May 24, 2017 at 11:32 pm

      Hi Melinda,

      Thank you! I really love Turkey too! Wow, I’m sorry to hear about your carpet guy experience and can totally understand how things like this can quickly change one’s opinion of a place. There are many people who tell me I’m crazy and that they absolutely love Istanbul, but like you, Istanbul and I never really hit it off. Lol


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