Published: September 25th 2011September 15th 2011 Thursday, 15th Sept - early morning flight Istanbul to Ankara
on the terrace
Danny, Ulla, Zak & Me.
Due to the fact that Istanbul is very expensive and the fact we are flying out of here and will have to come back here, I made the executive decision to spend the night at the airport after our midnight arrival flight and catch a 7.30am flight from Istanbul to Ankara.
Also the fact that this airport is so far out of Istanbul that it would have cost us more to catch a taxi to the city at this time of night, than waiting and flying out in the morning. This of course all went bum up when Air Arabia cancelled and changed our flight date which meant we lost the original internal flight I booked and had to rebook one for the changed date. But I've had my whinge about that, not that it did me any good.
So after spending a wonderfully boring night in the airport we caught the 40 minute flight to Ankara, Turkey's capital. Although Zak is now a veteran flyer I think he was still happy it was only a short flight. We were both pretty shattered after the flight
from Casablanca and the little matter of being up all night waiting in the airport.
Any of you with any knowledge of Turkey as a holiday destination would think right now, why the hell are we bothering to even go to Ankara. Well the reason is simple, we have some friends, Danny & Ulla, that we met in Morocco last year who are now working and living in Ankara and it seemed like a good opportunity for us to impose on them for a few days. Oops I mean, visit them for a few days, and besides we had a tajine to deliver, which I am happy to advise made it in one piece. Unlike the one I attempted to take back to Australia which I'm sure was broken when my bag was dropped by the taxi driver in KL airport, but I'm over that, really I am.
Danny had very kindly emailed me detailed directions of how to find the way to their home. By this stage I was very happy for these instructions as we were both so exhausted we would never have made it out of the Ankara airport had we not known
cedar tree in Ankara
Danny and Zak standing near cedar tree in down town Ankara
where to go. As instructed we headed for the public bus which was just outside the terminal and slowly filling up to capacity. We did manage to get on but had no choice but to stand for the journey. I'm not sure how long it took to get to our instructed stop, but it felt like years. The driver and some helpful fellow passengers indicated to us where to get off, where we immediately climbed into a taxi for the short remainder of the journey.
Ulla was still at work, so Danny greeted us after we climbed 25 flights of stairs. Later I discovered it was only about 4 flights but like I said we were exhausted.
Before long we took up the offer to have a bit of a lie down and catch up on a few zzz's before Ulla returned home from work. Zak and I crashed for a few hours. I remember waking up after only about 2 hours still feeling like shit, but another 2 hours and we were feeling a little more human.
Later in the afternoon, Danny took us for a little walk around the surrounding streets, Zak
plastic gas bottles?
Zak thought these water cooler refill bottles were plastic gas bottle, obviously they don't have these in Morocco.
was surprised to see they had cedar trees growing in the suburban streets of Ankara. He also saw some plastic water cooler bottles which he thought were the plastic equivalent of the gas bottles we buy in Azrou.
Of course we had to stop and buy some baklava, which I had been raving about for weeks, and it was divine.
Back at the flat I indulged in an EFES beer and started to feel even more human. Amazing the healing qualities of a cold beer has on a jet lagged person. Well, that's the excuse for today anyway.
Soon Ulla was home from work and we spent an enjoyable evening catching up on what we all had been doing since we met, 1 year ago.
Danny cooked a great meal, good to see the man in the kitchen in this home also, lol.
Even though we had the nanna nap this afternoon we were again happy to see a bed to catch up on more sleep. Friday, 16th Sept - Ankara, Ulus market
We had a nice sleep in. And a relaxing morning.
Ulla came home early from work
(thank you) and we all caught a dolmus to the Ulus area where there is a fresh food market. It was amazing and the prices were ridiculous. As soon as I saw a giant pile of bright red tomatoes I had an instant recall of the taste of tomatoes in Turkey from my previous trip. Without a doubt Turkey has the most tastiest tomatoes in the whole world - or at least in the whole part of the world that I have visited. Yep we took some of those, at 1tl (56c) a kilo they were just about giving them away. I also spotted mushrooms!! wow these looked so good, and there are no mushrooms in Morocco so I had not had these for ages. My first thought was: fried mushrooms on toast for breakfast, yum. Price was 3tl ($1.70) a kilo! Unreal!! I was just about salivating!! We purchased a few other bits and pieces for the tajine that Zak was going to cook tonight, including some fresh fish from very friendly fish vendors who insisted on having photos taken with us. Oddly enough with our cameras.
I'd like to take this paragraph to describe what it's
3 tl = $1.70
like to be walking around with our good friend Danny. It's like being with a famous person. Now it's obvious that he is the most handsome man in the world (sorry Fabio, you have lost your crown). This is proven time and time again as tourist and locals alike request a photo to be taken with him. Although my theory is that they think he is the movie star Eddie Murphy. By the end of the day I suggest to Danny he should be asking for a donation to take his photo as he would make a nice living just walking the streets posing for photos.
We walked through the market and a few of the surrounding streets. A stroll uphill took us to the citadel which gave a great view over the old part and some of the suburbs of Ankara. This city is much larger than I thought, and we saw that when we were flying in. Ankara is a very hilly city and high rise buildings coast the numerous hills for as far as you can see.
We stopped in a popular with locals cafe (popular as it was full and we had
Zak christened the tajine by cooking the first meal
to wait a few minutes for a table). It was nothing flash, but the food was ok and cheap and we had a nice sit down overlooking the street for an hour or so. Danny ordered this drink, which we all tasted and grimaced due to the ugliness of the taste. We still have no idea what it was but I took a photo to be sure never to order it again. To say it was vile tasting would be a generous description.
It was a nice hot sunny day, we'd had a nice afternoon and walked back to the apartment just after a quick stop for a few cold beverages and people watch at a nice little beer garden. All too soon it was time to head back as the kitchen was calling Zak to christen the tajine!
Another nice evening was spent enjoying the great fish tajine, a few more beers, wine and good company. Saturday, 17th Sept - Ankara, Ataturk Mausoleum
A fantastic breakfast of fried mushrooms on fresh bread, well fantastic for me anyway. And, yes, Marcia, I did cook them myself. Zak looked on in amazement
and queried that I did after all know what a pan on the hot thing did!! He thought my mushrooms with butter was just too dull and added an egg to his mushrooms.
Today we are playing tourists. There are not a lot of tourist attractions in Ankara but we are going to visit the most popular/famous one. Anit Kabir
Ataturk's monumental mausoleum. Sorry but I am not going to go into who Ataturk was, please google, very interesting reading. But suffice to say he was a very important person in Turkey's history.
First we walked about 10 minute to visit the Kocatepe Mosque which claims to be one or the biggest mosque in the world. Stupid me forgot to bring the bottom half of my zip on pants so I could not enter. However Zak made up for it and actually went inside and prayed. Wow, first time for everything. He said it was very big and impressive inside. Interesting fact: most Turks are of course Muslim and they perform the daily prayers in Arabic, because of course the Koran is in Arabic. The thing is, hardly any if, any at all of Turkish
people would speak Arabic, so they learn the prayers verbatim, and say them in Arabic. Obviously, they have been translated to Turkish so they know what they are saying, but they do not know the Arabic words that they are praying. How's that for religious commitment? or stupid brainwashing? Not for me to judge, just an interesting fact I thought. By the way we found this out by Zak asking numerous Turkish people.
We caught a taxi from the mosque straight to Atatuk's Mausoleum. With the 4 of us this was cheaper than taking the bus/dolmus. As I said taxi's are cheap here. Again we are enjoying a brilliant hot sunny blue skied day!
And again it was like traveling with a movie star. The mausoleum was crawling with foreign tourists and local visitors alike and they all wanted to have their photo taken with Danny. I told you man, 2 lire, 2 lire, you could have made a killing this day!! Lucky for them Danny is a cheerful obliging participant and managed to smile for the hundreds of photos taken. Some women were too shy to approach him would take a photo on the sly,
so Danny had to be aware of being flash blinded at all times. You're a good sport!!
A few hours at the mausoleum, outside and walking through the museum, which I recommend by the way. Ataturk really was an amazing man and what he did for Turkey maybe other Muslim countries could take heed and get with it. Anyway it was time for lunch and reluctantly we relied on Danny sense of direction, as he claimed on the way in the taxi he was scoping lunch spots. Lucky for him on this occasion he was correct (otherwise would never have lived it down) and we ended up at what the waiter claimed was the best chicken restaurant in Ankara. Of course Danny took full credit for this and if I remember correctly gloated about it for the rest of the day!!! However the chicken was excellent and I'll give him credit for guiding us in the right direction.
Did I mention it was a hot, sunny day again today? I think it must be due to this that we again ended up in the same beer garden as yesterday. Sure it must have been our guides
who guided us there again. Staff were happy to see us back and we were happy to have some cold beers. Actually we had a few more than the day before, but again it was an enjoyable time spent with friends and watching the general populace of Ankara parade past us.
We really did manage to have a few, because as you can see by the photo we managed to get a photo of the Kocatepe Mosque all lit up in the dark. I'm sure that's why we stayed so long in the pub so that we could see this beautiful site on our way home.
Thanks Danny and Ulla, we had a wonderful stay with you guys. Hope to see you again soon!
There are more photos below