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News From the Sun Bow Front:

Letter from Anatolia - February 2011 :

Dear friends and family,

I am just back from our latest excursion through Anatolia.

Even in the past four months, the changes are very noticeable.

Soon there will be a high speed train between Ankara and Konya (1.5 hours). The rails are almost down, and we are expecting rail service later this year. Inshallah! And with the high speed service in place between Ankara and Istanbul, there will be no need to do air again.

Konya has grown from less than 30,000 souls in 1950 to almost one and a half million today. Partly due to the "flight" from the villages by the youth, and partly due to the continued growth of the general population. Konya has become a modern city right before our eyes.

The economy is booming. The locals are very proud that Turkey is now the 17th largest economy in the world. One can see this reflected in hotel rates, and prices in general. The Turkish Lira continues to gain against the dollar.

We are once again happy to report that our Turkish family is still working with us (price-wise) in spite of the decline of the dollar. So our prices will remain steady.

click here for a slide show of images from the January trip

We also found some great rugs and kilims. Both old and semi-old. We found some Armenian Caucasian carpets, a gabbeh, some Baktiari mixed techniques, an old Taspinar sampler, some fabulous village kilims, and a few small beaded bags. We also found another stash of Marsh Arab kilims and grabbed them. Great art. Great provenance. Great good fortune.

We are sorry to say that the general rug market is slowly discovering these Marsh Arab treasures, and as a result are starting to cause prices to rise. However, this will not be true on this latest group. If you ever thought of adding one of these to your collection, now is the time. There will only be more expensive "leavings" in the future.

The country is clean - cleaner - cleanest. one has to say that the ruling "religious" party is doing it right. instead of monies going into secret bank accounts, the money is going into public works - like cleaning up and refurbishing the public parks and roads.

Tourism is starting to recover, but it's slow, so it is still a great time to book travel to Turkey. Away from the coast, one can still step back in time and see life as it was fifty plus years ago.

And of course, the food: In Istanbul, Khorosani had fabulous lamb ribs, and Gilik is still number one for fresh fish - they also have the best sashlik (makes a great appetizer). The food in Konya continues to be dominated by Firin Kebab (Konya Kebab), and Ali Baba is starting to get the recognition they deserve. They were just featured on Turkish television. Still no change in either their prices or their fantastic quality. Keep your fingers crossed.

Speaking of Konya, this trip solved a long time mystery. It seems that Konya is a "dinner at home" kind of town, and the best restaurants are only open for lunch. Dinner out features grill only (kebabs)... it is difficult if one wants anything else.

Lunch time is filled with difficult choices: Konya toast (with meat, cheese, and tomato), Konya Borak (baked "baguettes" with cheese and herbs), Pida (Turkish pizza), soups or Konya Kebab. Sometimes we want to have them all.

The soup restaurants are an article in themselves. These tend to be working class, clean, and spartan. Best is to go early in the morning, when the selection might reach 30 choices of soups (with free samples). By the afternoon, the selection may be down to only a few soups.

click here for a slide show of images from the January trip

We stay at the Rumi Hotel - just across from Mevlana's tomb. It is owned by family, and is the best "boutique" hotel in Konya - clean, comfortable, with a wonderful breakfast included, and a fantastic view of the tomb. They also make a fabulous spaghetti bolognaise.

Amongst the changes in Konya: Ahmets Place has closed (he was one of the original carpet dealers in Konya), and Karavan is leaving its ancient Hamam and moving down the street by the year's end. Young Partners has become a "holding company" and is now involved in many projects, including jewelry, souvenirs, construction and hotels, as well as rugs. Life continues.

I went for a haircut again. My barber is Jevat - the Master. He is located in the barber district (of course), and one needs to make an appointment. This time he suggested a Turkish "waxing" as well as a burning. All in the name of science, I agreed.

After the haircut and wash were over, they place warm pine tar resin on your ears and let it set. Then they pull it off. It is very neat, and I was told that the ladies use this on their legs. I was brave during the pain. But afterward, I felt clean!

With all the complaining (in the market) about lessening supplies, we found all that we were looking for and more. We plan on returning in May, and we'll see what has transpired.

Our shipment is ready to leave Turkey. We'll announce its arrival and maybe have an opening. Some of the pieces we found are truly fabulous.

The tea is fresh and hot, the stories are improving with each retelling, and we await the pleasure of your company.

all best

saul & the sun bow crew

click here for a slide show of images from the January trip


Sun Bow Trading Company
By Appointment
Outfitting Downtown Charlottesville since 1978.
(434) 293 8821