Week in Ankara

Ankara is not Istanbul — this is quite clear to anyone living in Turkey — but I don’t say this to disregard Ankara. I had a great time despite the stress of all the bureaucracy and time involved in applying for my residency permit (without it I’m here illegally and cannot get access to medical care or return to the country if I choose to leave for any reason).

I would be remiss without posting a shout-out to Captain Berk, Havva hocam, and everyone else who contributed for all of their hard work in making it a successful week. I felt a little guilty that I was able to slip out and spend some time with an amazing Turkish friend I met last year in Washington, D.C., who lives in Ankara, and her boyfriend, but it made the week a lot more manageable. There’s little that alcohol, food, and friends (not to mention friends with radical politics) can’t cure. I was reminded of my better moments in D.C. while in the Turkish capital.

But Ankara is much more beautiful than D.C. Western Anatolia has incredible scenery — which I enjoyed throughout the six-hour bus ride  that included more trials and tribulations than I would like to detail here (although long bus rides in Turkey include refreshments and on-board entertainment, so I can’t complain too much). It was good to be among friends as well.

I stayed at a dorm room on one of the lush campuses of Hacettepe University. It was very nice — with many places to eat and socialize — yet I couldn’t really meet anyone new — except one very friendly guy who helped me get into the student cafeteria and ended up paying for my lunch because I didn’t have exact change — because of the language barrier. Either not as many young people speak English as I have been told, or they just pretend they don’t because they don’t want to talk to me. I am thinking it’s the former because of the friendliness I have experienced (and documented) thus far.

Ankara does have a downtown scene despite what I had been told. I would have liked to have spent more time in it, but there is always next time. It would likely appeal to a quieter, likely older crowd than Taksim Square in Istanbul. Also unlike Istanbul the city as a whole is very modern (with some very interesting exceptions, such as the Citadel — pictured second to the bottom below). It was unfortunate that I did not have time for any museums, which Ankara is known for, except the famous Independence Museum and Ataturk’s mausoleum, which was certainly fit for a hero. It was no small event to stand at the grave-site of such an individual, who remains hard for me to grasp because he has no modern equivalent in the United States. This is a subject I will have to return to after further study.

Perhaps the strangest moment for me was when two young girls tried to solicit me and my friends by talking like robotic tour guides — if robotic tour guides had a five-word English vocabulary. The same night I was also called a ‘yankee’ by a Turkish man who helped us find the Metro. I will let that one go because I use the term myself in order to distinguish those from the States and those from broader America (yes, there is a broader America, s0-called Americans!)

I will have to plan a future trip to see the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and, perhaps, the outlying Phrygian ruins, where King Midas was allegedly buried.

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1 Comment

  1. Patty Courtney said,

    November 8, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    It’s nice to see you!


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