Wednesday, June 17, 2009
16 hours in Ankara
Last Friday I headed for Ankara to do some stuff in Lithuanian Ambassy and at the same time had a chance to look around the capital of Turkey. My first impression was really great!!! For a girl from green Lithuania, Ankara looked amazing with blooming flowers all around, thousands of trees and even the weather was cleaner, no dusty feeling...
But about everything step by step... I left Istanbul late at night or early in the morning at about 2am. A six-hour- bus ride was waiting for me, that's why I had chosen the bus by Ulusoy company. When it comes to buses, there are so many companies providing their services, but if you decided to use a bus, I would recommend Ulsoy as the buses are very comfortable, clean, cold and hot drinks ( no alcohol) and snacks are served on the way, they don't make too many break-stops. Actually, this time there were no stops as it was just a six hour night journey. In the morning, I enjoyed a lovely cheese sandwich with coffee.
Ankara met me with pretty hot weather and crowded buses and hundreds of taxis. So I had to grab a taxi as I had no idea where to find the ambassy. It was an easy drive and I must say not too expensive. My so called stuff took only 20 minutes to fix and I was ready to get some real coffee in a cafe. Not far from the ambassies I found a lovely place for coffee. However, it was already about 11 am and pretty hot, that's why I decided to have cold frappe which originally was supposed to be with caramel and mango syrup. But I have and idea that the waiter just forgot to add any or was really mean. My verdict - no more frappe in the nearest future!!!
After sad coffee tasting, I was ready for some cultural and historical experience of Ankara. So the first stop was the mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. The mausoleum was constructed in 1944 and sits on the top of the hill overlooking the city and the area is called Anit Tepesi. This building is a notorious example of modern Turkish architecture. Below you can see some photos that were made at the entrance of the Mausoleum complex. Of course at first everyone was carefully checked by the officers and then I had to walk for about 15 min uphill in a boiling heat ( it was about +37C). The whole complex includes a Path of Honor guarded by Hittite lions, a Court of Honor, the Atatürk Mausoleum itself and a museum.
The path of honour leads to massive square with collonaded mausoleum and a museum with war memorabilia, paintings, personal Turkish presidents' belogings.
It took several hours to look around. So on the way back from the museum I enjoyed lovely shadows on the benches under the trees, which were in such a great variety and colours. The beauty of the museum and the park around it really shows Turkish affection and glorification of Kemal Attatürk.
Another place that I was longing to visit in Ankara was the museum of Anatolian Civilisation, which is located on the south side of Ankara castle. So I took underground to get there and one more time I had a pleasure of climbing numerous steps. To my surprise there weren't proper signs to show the way to the museum, that is why I just walked up the hill towards the castle, which was really high. So thirty steps, then again thirty steps, and of course some more steps and again steps... and the weather was still very hot!!! Then somewhere in the halfway I asked one water-seller where exactly the museum was, and as a good Turkish tradition goes - you cannot say 'I don't know!' and you MUST show something if you are asked. And I was shown to go up up up the hill. I went almost to the top but instead of a castle or a museum I found a Karaim village with carpets displayed on fences and women sitting next to their huts drinking tea. So I understood it was time to go back.
On the way downhill I saw quite many parked cars and buses, so the only idea was that overthere there should be the real museum. Luckily, my intuition was right and I finally went into the museum. I loved the coolness inside and everything I saw there. The exhibits of gold, silver, glass, marble and bronze works date back as far as the second half of the first millennium BC. The coin collections, with examples ranging from the first minted money to modern times, represent the museum's rare cultural treasures. An unbelievable history lesson!!! Definitely a place worth a visit!!!
And finally evening came and it was time to enjoy some Turkish cuisine and some Turkish beer. So I had tavuk şiş ( chicken kebab) with fried potatoes and salad. For a snack we had cigara böreks ( feta cheese wrapped in fillo dough) with very spicy ketchup and mayonaise. Simple, not very healthy but delicious!!! After the dinner it was time to say goodbye to a nice city of Ankara. Time to go home!!!