You see them dotted over the city, sitting on small stools on the path, old wood and brass shoe shine stands at their feet, waiting…waiting for you to decide that your dusty shoes need a polish! They are good at their job. If you do stop, your shoes will be polished to perfection…you’ll be able to see your face when you look down!
Istanbul’s shoe shiners are part of the atmosphere of the city.
But there’s another story to be told!
The mobile shoe shiner with his kit over his shoulder loiters around the busy tourist venues…..we met one on the walk from Istanbul Modern to the Dolmabahçe Palace.
As we passed, we politely declined his offer of a shoe shine.
He then headed off in front of us, smoothly dropped one of his brushes and continued to walk on!
My husband picked it up and called after him…..
“Thank you..let me give you a shoe shine to show you my gratitude.”
“No thanks”…came our quick reply but he was insistent. So were we and we walked off!
Only later did we learn that this is a common scam in the streets of Istanbul. The shoe shine will cost you a lot more than is commonly charged and should you refuse to pay, you will suddenly find yourself meeting a few of his friends.