Scams, Trinkets and Scary Hospitals


We’re leaving fabulous Istanbul today for the warmer climes and dry heat of Jordan. Istanbul has been my favourite stop on the trip so far. It’s a great city. We spent 9 days here and I felt that we barely scratched the surface. The sights were great but my favourite thing to do was just walk around through the neighbourhoods and side streets. You’d pass by a shop where a guy was getting a shave with a straight-razor next to a shop with someone grilling meats or fishes on sticks over open flame next to a guy in a cafe strumming some forlorn love ditty on his guitar next to…you get the idea. It’s the one place so far on the adventure that I can see myself returning.

One of the more interesting (not necessarily necessarily in a good way) things to have happened was a con a shoe-shine guy pulled on us. We were walking across a busy bridge when a guy ahead of us, carrying his shoe-shine box and supplies, dropped his brush and kept on walking. I was about to  say something when someone tripped over it and alerted him. We kept on walking. A few minutes later another shoe-shine man dropped his brush. This time Swanson picked it up and handed it back to him He seemed grateful, saying thanks and then a few seconds later he pulls Swanson aside and starts shining his shoes (Gus was wearing sneakers at the time). I thought, that’s pretty cool. Swanson didn’t really want to have this done but obliged the guy anyways. Then he grabbed the other shoe and hastily started cleaning. It was then that Tami clued in and asked “How much”? The guy jumped up and said “18” (about $9 Canadian). I jumped in, “How much?!” He repeated “18!”  I told him “No way I was paying that!” I thought he was doing it because Swanson picked up his brush.” “It’s 18!” I looked at what I had in my pocket – a 20 and a 5. I handed him the 5. He wanted the 20. “Make change!” he barked. I told him no way. He looked at Tami who had about 1 in coins and he took them saying, “Give me your money!” He then grabbed them out of her hand.

I was so mad at this point. What went from what I thought was a nice genuine moment to a scam and bullshit. I called him an asshole and we all walked away. I hate being scammed as it’s happened a few times already on this trip – almost always by shifty cab drivers – and I was fuming. It took a while to settle down and then when I started thinking of the con he pulled – the dropping of the brush, playing to the kindness of tourists, I started to appreciate his game a little more. He only managed to get 1/3 of what he wanted, but it’s better than nothing, I guess. Too bad he did a shitty job on Swanson’s shoes.

We stumbled across this cool, weird curio shop the other day. They supplied the artifacts for the Museum of Innocence which is a museum (of innocence) that was built after the book was written. Here’s a few shots of the jam-packed place. I could have spent a hours looking at all the demented (as they call it) stuff.


Look at my shit!


Not too sure what’s going on in this one. The evils of pinecones on rats? A cautionary tale?


As I said, they have everything including Nazi memorabilia and stooped over old men.




A truer statement has never been uttered.


More demented stuff.

And a few random shots from around the town.


Worst ping pong table ever!


These steps are jerks!




This is a hospital. A terrifying, presumably haunted hospital. The Kingdom has nothing on this place.


Gwar! I’m going to eat all of you!

We’re sitting in the Athens airport waiting for a connector flight to Jordan in a few hours. I imagine that we’ll have some sweet photos and stories for you soon.


Serious men.

There is a memorial for our beloved John Skibinski this evening at Black Dog. I wish that I could be there. I hope a few of you manage to drop by. I’ll be thinking of John and all my friends tonight.


4 thoughts on “Scams, Trinkets and Scary Hospitals

  1. Hi Darren and Tami! So glad you found a city to call your own Darren… I’m sure you’ll go back. I have complete sympathy for the nasty feelings getting scammed can leave you with. I truly never realized until I left Canada that in so much of the world this is the norm. Never thought about the fact that hundreds of interactions I have everyday here all rely on the honesty and goodwill of the person I am dealing with… And it freaking works!!! I could not live somewhere where this wasn’t the case, although you will develop some mad skills travelling, it’s not something I enjoy. Perfect learning moments for Swanson about the importance of being honest in business, and how lucky we really are where we call home! Have fun in Greece!

    • Yes, it seemed to take a while even if I’ve enjoyed almost every place we’ve visited so far. It is funny that as soon as you leave your comfort zone (Canada) that it seems everyone wants your dough. Well not everyone of course but it makes one wary for most interactions. Which kind of sucks. But it’s all part of the trip, man.
      We’re actually in Jordan at the moment. First time in the Middle East. Pretty cool. Laid on top of the water in the Dead Sea today.

  2. first of all western shit man. My hands are tired and sore. I dropped that faithful brush truthfully and honestly. Your handsome son and beautiful bouncy bouncy wife I mistook for western royalty. And for you ugly shirt wearing friend, a sneaker shoe shine is $9.00 and some grabby grabby change from your beautiful bouncy bouncy wife. Mr. Shit western man, I hope your shirt is shat on by a 1000 sheep. And your wife, comes back for a shoe shine……by herself!!

    • Wow, old shoe-shine guy, you’re English is much better than you led us to believe. Another scam you are trying, perhaps? Something to do with my bouncy bouncy wife?

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