I always travel with several pipes. On my journey to Istanbul I took two J.Davis’s, one Julius Vesz Zulu, a Lars Ivarsson, a Peterson Emerald rustic, and a Mastro De Paja two tone sandblast. I didn’t take any tobacco. I usually wait to see what I can find where I’m traveling. This is an adventure for sure. The other reason I don’t take any is the bizarre ever changing rules about carrying tobacco on flights to certain places. It seems odd that one can take a baseball bat and not a 2 ounce pouch of tobacco.
Istanbul is a mesmerizing city. Bordering Asia and Europe, the only city in the world to do so, it has exotic sounds, smells, and brilliant architecture. I spent any time I had alone walking the narrow cobble stoned streets of the old city. The Bizarre, their version of a mall, is enormous! Surely I could find some pipe tobacco here. As I walked the maze of shops I stumbled upon a vast array of Hookah pipes. So beautiful in color and design. Oriental rugs covered the ground in many shops, hung from ropes, hundreds of them. Near the rugs was a coffee shop with small round wooden tables . I sat down and ordered. As I was waited I read from Leonard Cohen’s book of poetry, “Book of Longing”. I had found an English version in a book shop near the Blue Mosque the day before. Suddenly I smelled it. Latakia! I looked around and saw a tall blonde haired man smoking a Meerschaum. He was approaching my location and as he passed I asked him where he bought his tobacco. He was German, from Frankfort, and was very happy to meet another pipe smoker. He spoke very good English and I asked him to sit down. I ordered him a coffee and found out he and his family holiday often in Istanbul, as do many Germans. He reached in his jacket pocket and pulled out a very well worn leather pouch. He offered and I accepted. We smoked and drank coffee like two old friends. He directed me to a very ancient smoke shop not far from the Bizarre. Don’t you just love the pipe smoking fraternity?
I found the shop. Part cigar shop, Hookah shop, and a small but encouraging pipe tobacco selection. I was floored to see they had some old 2 ounce Balkan Sobranie!! I bought the two boxes they had and felt good about life. I walked back to the Bizarre hoping to see my new German friend to share some of my spoils. Sadly, he was gone.
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