There are no price tags on any item there. Once you are interested in something in a shop (and you will be pressured into being interested in something!) you bring it to the shopkeeper. He gives you a price and it is a taboo not to demand a lower price. The two of you will go back and forth and you finally reach a much less price than originally asked. It is a lot of fun, but certainly not for everyone.
With less than a week to go before we depart for Japan, my team is very focused on its goal of coming home with the cup. This tournament will have the champion club teams from four different continents - North America, Australia, Europe and Asia. Since my team won the European Cup last season we will represent that continent. Training has been going really well, but I am hungry for the competition. These will be our first games of the year and we want to get off to a good start.
Once we arrive in Japan we will not have much time to adjust to the nine hour time difference, so we have started practicing at strange hours of the day to make sure we are properly acclimated once the games begin. The team appears strong and ready to go and I'm very excited to show how hard we have been working. One thing that I'm learning playing over here is that there isn't just one truth in basketball and the game can be played beautifully in many different ways. We often times do things that I am not accustomed to and instead of rejecting the idea because I don't know it, I embrace it and find that I am learning a ton about the game.
I have gathered quite the fan base around my neighborhood. Whenever I see a group of kids they chase me down to acknowledge me as a "basket player" for Galatasaray, and to show off their English skills. I'm not kidding about the chasing down. A big group of kids ran after my car last week and caught me at the stoplight just to give me a high five! It was amazing! The last time I had a fan it was spinning on the ceiling. So, it was cool to be recognized.
Speaking of recognition, I'm so proud to be part of the Paralympic movement! I am hearing great things from friends, family and other athletes about the TV coverage the Paralympics has received. This is phenomenal! How encouraging to know that the hard work that each athlete has put in to their respective Paralympic sport is being recognized on a major scale. I'm not just referring to the athletes that competed in Beijing. The hard work of all Paralympic athletes, past and present, has helped grow our movement and I'm incredibly appreciative of the sacrifices and hard work that has gone into this from the beginning.
I will keep you updated on my team's progress and results from Japan and I will also keep you updated on my adventures!
The Grand Bazaar has been on my "to do" list since I've been here in Istanbul. I've heard a lot about it and wanted to experience it for myself. For those who haven't heard of the Grand Bazaar, it is one of Istanbul's famous attractions. Basically, it is a huge covered market well-known for its jewelry, leather goods and pottery. There are roughly 6,000 shops that make up the bazaar and this place has everything! It's a great place to do some of my Christmas shopping. I found many souvenirs of all kinds for my friends and family and had a blast haggling prices with each shopkeeper.