Adventures in Turkey: Ankara, Ánkyra, Ancyra, and Angora

This year we keep running into snow. Last month, mother nature decided that after Paola and Cliff’s wedding in tropical Medellin, Colombia, we needed to reminded about winter here in DC. When we left for Turkey, we did not have snow on the mind. Unfortunately, when we arrived in Ankara to visit Christiaan and Dara, a historical snowfall was also in town creating many beautiful scenes around the city and one very cold wife.

Our first challenge was to get from the bus station to Christiaan’s place. Over the phone he relayed his address. We entered the cab and knew we were in for an adventure when the taxi driver didn’t understand the address we gave him. Ultimately, the driver flagged down two other cabs to figure out where to go. We zipped across the city and to the area where Christiaan’s apartment was supposed to be. The cab took us all the way to the doorway of an apartment building before realizing we were at the wrong tower. We felt bad for the driver because we couldn’t explain anything (not that knowing the language would have helped) and he was unfamiliar with this part of the city (when you’re in a city of 4 million).

Finally, we arrived just in time to enter Christiaan’s apartment and see him off to work. It was our turn to explore for the day until he had some free time. After freshening up, we stepped back into the snow and tried our luck at the local buses (a planned trip this time). Fortunately, the line next to his house went directly downtown. Unfortunately, we got off too early and still walked a long ways. It was an interesting walk, as we saw all of the shops and took in the different vibe (wider streets and slightly taller buildings than Istanbul). Our ultimate goal was the Citadel, a hilltop with a walled town overlooking the rest of the city. Along the way we meandered through a street market as the snow lightly drifted to the ground. At the Citadel, there was a market outside, but the inside wasn’t all that interesting, as it was a twist of alleyways like other parts of the city.

A little ways down the hillside was the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi) that traced the history back millennia. We lost ourselves here for a couple hours looking at carvings from 5,000 years ago. This is definitely a great museum for archeologists to visit. We actually ran into Christiaan’s brother Humberto there. He had just returned to Ankara after a holiday with his girlfriend and, by chance, was also in the museum (Christiaan didn’t even know he was in the city). With Humberto, we walked down to the hill and past an archeological site he was helping to excavate as part of his studies. Then he took us over to a plateau full of Roman ruins. Finally, we ducked into a coffee shop where he introduced Emily to Salup – a warm milky drink with cinnamon flavor. Actually, we almost purchased this drink on the streets of Istanbul, except the English label that the street vendors gave to it was “special hot drink.” For some reason, that marketing ploy didn’t work on Emily.

After warming up, we headed back to Christiaan’s apartment without Humberto to finally catch up with Christiaan. Unfortunately, Dara had to be out of town for work. We were sorry our visit coincided with that visit, but it sounded like a great opportunity. Christiaan introduced us to a local Turkish restaurant he had frequented us in the past. The menu was fixed, and we tried many vegetables and meats that were served tapas style. We even drank some Roki (A Turkish liquor with an anise flavor). Before we left, other patrons were singing with the musicians. It was a wonderful evening.

The next morning, we woke to even more snow. Christiaan still needed to work, so Emily and I hibernated took it easy before heading to the neighborhood near his office. Because of the ferocity of the flakes, Emily retreated to a coffee-shop and enjoyed a mug of special hot drink salup in a warm enclave. I decided to continue walking around and enjoying the city streets before we met up with Christiaan. He took us over to Anıtkabir, a large mausoleum and history museum for Ataturk and the foundation of modern Turkey. This is definitely the place to go to learn about modern Turkey. There is so much interesting information here, especially about the reforms Ataturk put in place in Turkey. While we were there, a foreign leader from Central Asia was visiting, enabling us to see the armed forces standing guard in the snow. It was quite a sight. Emily was worried their feet were cold.

Due to the snow, we decided to call it an early day and have dinner at home. This turned out to be an excellent call, as many of Christiaan’s co-workers ended up stuck at the office or had to walk home. We spent a lovely evening hanging out, enjoying a home-cooked meal, sipping wine, and catching up while the snow kept falling. It was a great couple of days spent in the warm company of friends.

 

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~ by Rob Page III on November 21, 2011.

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