Capital confusion

Ankara Travel Blog

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People I met here who had contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Adelaide (France), Xavier (France), Karine (France), Naz (Turkey), Sinibaldo (Italy)

The weather had been mildly chilly in Izmir and we had bemoaned this, so it was quite a shock to exit the bus in Ankara and find out that it was freezing here. Thankfully there was a metro stop at the terminal, which ran straight into Kizilay, which is the town centre. Our couchsurfing host, a French lady called Adelaide, had arranged to meet us at Starbucks at 20.30, so when we arrived 5 minutes early we decided to wait at the entrance for her.

Stood with our huge bags at the front of the shop, it seemed a certainty that she would spot us there, so we patiently waited for twenty minutes, before starting to think that maybe something was wrong.

In the end Julia decided to look for a phone, but couldn't find one, so then had another look through the coffee shop window and realised that there was a woman sat inside who could well be Adelaide. Bad luck dictated that she had arrived even earlier than us and done the sensible thing of waiting inside with a warm drink, whilst we had stood like lemons freezing our butts off. The main thing though, was that she was there, so we ordered a drink and joined her.

Some time later another couchsurfer called Serkan turned up to chat with us, and it turned out he spoke a little bit of Russian. Funnily enough he had actually dated a Russian girl before, and even stranger was the fact that she came from St Petersburg. BUT, the really bizarre thing was that it turned out this girl had been a class mate of Julia's! Small World, isn't it!?

Julia and I were famished, so the four of us went for a kebab in a nearby restaurant and then went back to Adelaide's huge apartment.
I was surprised to find out that a three bedroom apartment with a massive living room, kitchen and bathroom only cost $350 a month, which seemed incredible value by any capitals standards.

On Wednesday the weather was sunny, so the cold wasn't such an irritant to me. Thus we caught a minibus up to the district of Ulus, where most of Ankara's main attractions are situated. It seemed a shame to go to a Museum whilst the sun was out, so we opted to climb up to the citadel, which offered splendid panoramic views over the City. It was nice to walk around Sark Kulesi (Eastern Tower), looking down on the red tiled roofs and mountains that were dusted with snow. I think i actually preferred this panorama more than any that i witnessed in Istanbul.

Coming back down from the citadel we stopped off at the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations, which was supposed to be the jewel of Turkeys Museums and won the European Museum of the Year award in 1997. Unsurprisingly the entry was a sky high 15YTL ($9) each, which i normally wouldn't spend on a Museum, but i decided to make an exception, and really wished i would have listened to my instincts that were screaming “You will leave disappointed, don't be so stupid... put your wallet away... no, you idiot, 30YTL buys a lot in Turkey... it won't be anything different”.

Now in fairness to the Museum, it was nicely set out and had captions in English and some nice artifacts. But at the same time it didn't have one object that really took my breath away, just a lot of pottery and small objects spanning a long period of time.
If it was 5YTL i might have left content, but for the same price as one ticket here i could nearly pay to go and see Ani, Nemrut Dagi AND Aphrodisias - which shows what a rip off it was. Oh well, i hope i learned my lesson for next time.

After eating a late lunch we walked from Ulus to Kizilay and looked around the centre for some time. At 19.30 we met up with couchsurfer Naz and a little later Adelaide joined us with a work colleague called Karine, who was also a couchsurfer and her guest Jonathon, both of whom were French. Naz took us to a rock bar where we drank a few beers and chatted and then went to eat a kebab - just for a change! Another peculiar thing also happened, which was when we looked through some photos that we had taken earlier in the day, we discovered Jonathon was on our photos and Julia and I were on his! Told you it was a small World!

Julia wasn't feeling too good on Thursday, so we opted to have a lazy day at Adelaide's apartment.
Writing my blog and watching the snow fall outside, this certainly seemed like the best way to spend the day. In the evening Julia cooked a very tasty Dinner for Adelaide, Karine and myself and then we sat in the warmth drinking fruit tea and feeling grateful to be in a heated house!

Ankara has an incredibly active couchsurfing community and on Friday another French guy called Xavier had volunteered his services to show us around. He came with his couchsurfing girlfriend Seydar and an Italian house mate called Sinibaldo, who was also a couchsurfer! With introductions out of the way, the five of us went to Anit Kabir, which is the Mausoleum complex of Mustafa Kemal - Attaturk.

Anit Kabir takes up a huge chunk of central Ankara, with grand buildings and vast gardens, most of which is inaccessible to the public.
Other than an interesting - yet biased - museum about his life and Turkeys History, there wasn't a great deal else to see. Xavier gave us some interesting facts and also helped raise questions about the authenticity of some of the claims that were made, such as whether he read every book in his library, which i must admit seemed highly unlikely. He had been a scholar, but given that large amounts of his time were spent restructuring the country, fighting in wars and drinking heavily, i don't think there was enough time in the day! Leaving the Museum we took a quick peek in the gift shop and found that the English books were 50YTL ($30), about 10 times the price of the Turkish ones, so we beat a hasty retreat.

Seydar left us at this point, so the four of us that were remaining went to eat some lunch before heading to Ulus, where we had spent our first day in the City.
We climbed back up to the citadel, but this time Xavier showed us around some quaint cobbled streets, which we hadn't seen on our first visit. Unfortunately the small cafe that we were going to grab a drink in was full and we didn't fancy the prospect of sitting outside in the freezing cold, so walked back to the centre.

There was a couchsurfing meeting scheduled for 19.00, but this gave us just enough time to go to a tea house, grab some chay and learn how to play the domino game called 'OK'. It was good fun, even though Sinibaldo and Xavier gave us a good beating! After this we went to another bar, where twenty or so Couchsurfing members turned up. We enjoyed a nice evening chatting to the local members, which included Naz, Adelaide and Karine and didn't make it home until 01.30.

Adelaide cooked us a nice farewell breakfast on Saturday morning, then we made our way out into the snow to go to the bus station.
Annoyingly we had to wait for over 30 minutes before a bus came that had any room on it, which as a result meant that we missed the bus we wanted to catch to Goreme and had to wait an extra two hours. It therefore wasn't until 15.00 that we finally got to leave the City behind, although we both felt a tinge of disappointment not to be staying longer, as we had made so many nice new friends.

almond72 says:
I liked the figures & carvings, are they on display at the museum ? I'm a sucker for such things. This page goes into my bookmarks. ;)
Posted on: Oct 04, 2009
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photo by: EmEm