I really liked Istanbul and would like to return, but I’ll write more about that for my trip report when I get back home next week. I did quickly want to post about the shoe shine scam in Istanbul which seems to be common. I almost fell for it. Check out this YouTube video which highlights it pretty well:
This YouTube user does a good job of explaining it as well:
The shoe-shine boys in Istanbul have a habit of dropping their brushes right in front of unsuspecting tourists. When the kind tourist picks up the brush and calls them back, they act all grateful and offer a free shoe-shine as thanks. During the course of the shoe-shine they lay it on thick, usually about how they have a sick child in hospital hundreds of mıles away, then strongly suggest that the tourist might like to make a donation. The suggested amount: roughly 10 times the going rate for a shoe shine.
Here it is in action: the brush is perched vulnerably on a little hook on the back of his shoe-shine box. He looks over his shoulder three times to make sure his mark (i.e. me) is in place, then skilfully knocks the box against his right leg. The brush falls off right in front of me.
Unfortunately for this guy, while he thought he was hunting tourists, he was actually the hunted. In this area of Istanbul, if you stand on a corner for 30 seconds during a reasonably quiet time of day, looking like a dumb tourist, one of these guys will find you. They are literally everywhere.
I fell for it the first day, where I just told the guy he dropped his brush. He shook my hand and wanted to give me a shoe shine, but I didn’t accept and then realized it was a scam. Of course they tried this trick on me several more times, but it never worked. I was tempted to just pick up the brush and run with it.