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Published: October 16th 2013
a bread snack seller
under there somewhere (from Hotel Verda-Ulus)
This may well be the very first blogette (it is) and who knows how I will manage any more - let alone "catch up" with what has been. Be grateful for what you get peoples.
(written on train) I have been on the train from Ankara to Kayseri in the SE for some 5 hrs now – so better do something other than look out the window at the passing Turkish scenery – rather like a sun burnt country down under as not a lot out there. There are often clumps of poplar trees on river banks, as it is mid-October after all, which have really quite a developed yellow autumnal colour. The stops have been a few whistle stops in the middle of nowhere and 3 or 4 bigger places.
Time to summarise Ankara. If you haven’t been, don’t rush! It is rather like Canberra – a rather boring capital city in the middle of nowhere. When Ataturk decided to set the capital here, rather than Istanbul, it was only 30,000 people – now some millions. He also persuaded foreign nations to set up embassies there by giving them free land for their embassies. Which certainly works as
tea and backgammon
chay place opp. the Htl Verda-Ulus
the land south of the Parliament along Ataturk Blvd is just lined with embassies and further up the hill. Strangely my 2010 Rough Guide identified the locations of both the Aust. and Kiwi embassies and I thought I would do a selfie in front of both wearing my Silver Ferns NZ ($2) cap. Believe it or not BOTH of them have moved location – the possible site of the former Oz embassy now seems to be a construction site and the embassy in an office building down town. And the NZ one seems to have moved to an even more obscure/exclusive location. But I did walk up to the Presidential Palace area and saw the perimeter fence and the guards and that was it.
I went for a walk on a sunny afternoon yesterday (as in the above) from my second hotel in Kizilay to the next suburb down Kaviklidere which has better shops – and most of the embassies. So fruitless search for an embassy but had a very fruitful 2 hr chat with a 24 yr old young Turk Burak in his coffee shop there. I had a coffee and before leaving engaged him in English and
a coffee pounding bear in Ulus
he was a hardworker that's for sure
he was very good so we ended up having a very long chat. He had spent 30 days in Melbourne a while ago with some cousins who own a kebap shop. He said he spent 29 days making kebaps and only 1 day being a tourist! He said he did not like Turkish people and said (I assume young males) were only interested in money, drinking alcohol and chasing women. As he had wifi I was able to answer from my tablet his questions (Wikipedia is your friend) with how many students in Aussie unis, how much money Gina Reinhardt has and how Twiggy Forrest is to give $65M. to University of WA etc. The press items in yesterday’s English language Hurriyet newspaper – will Guus Hiddink get the coaching gig with the Socceroos, and Russell Crowe’s third visit to Turkey in pursuit of making a film there set in 1916 about a father trying to find out the truth about his son’s death at Gallipolli or summat. In true Russ Crowe style he says the equivalent of “I love youse all” about the Turkish people and culture.
I had to spend an extra night in Ankara (make that
chunka chunka burnin' love
Elvis minus a chunk (deliberate??)
4) cos the train to Kayseri was full on Monday, so today Tues. was it. First 2 nights I spent in Ulus cos it is closish to the rail station. It is rather a seedy area otherwise and very blokey with tea and backgammon places during the day and some dubious nightclubs. Supposedly previously peopled with prostitutes (they had a lot of Russian imports but the economic downturn has likely taken them home). It was also close to the Museum of Anatolian Civilisation which I did not get to until the 2nd
day. . The Museum only had 2 of its 5 halls open which was disappointing but the Hittite etc stone block carvings and statues etc were fairly interesting. I thought it closed at 5pm but actually open til 7pm but I had seen enough. In the gift shop bought a very nice cushion cover reduced from 21Tl to 9 - $5. And a nice carved mini stone obelisk sort of thing. From there I walked up the hill to the old citadel – a superb
Ataturk on everything
Turks also love showing the flag (as much as Americans if not more)
defensive position since olden days on top of a massive stone outcrop. Inside the walls there are supposedly a couple of luxury hotels but all I saw was a slummish collection of last century old houses and narrow cobble stone lanes.
For nights 3 and 4 moved down to Kizilay with a definite hotel upgrade. The 3 star Verda in Ulus was a $50 hotel but the manager spoke very good English. The Eyuboglu in Kizilay was a 4 star and close to the Parliament and 50%!m(MISSING)ore in cost but way better. Because of the Sacrificial holiday week (a sort of Eid annual event of varying length) it was virtually empty as everyone leaves Ankara to do home place type stuff I assume. The staff were very friendly and most spoke English so can see why it had a Booking.com rating of 9.0 but was not OTT expensive (like say the Sheraton further down). Around there I strangely (given Ankara is miles from the sea) had 2 good fish dinners – makes a change from the universal meaty kebap. Went to the top 8th
floor of a major shopping centre and found a great little fish and chip
Burak in his coffee shop
he made kebaps in Oz for a "holiday"
place in a back corner where this oldish bloke did really respectfully some nice grilled fish, a good amount of salad, a small amount of chips (thanks), two types of sauce, seafood and tartare - and even a little block of halva for dessert as well. With a can of iced tea it was $8 which put many meals to shame. Last night in Kavaklidere had better grilled fish (split and flattened out) than I had in Amasra and it only cost about $18.
Nothing much else to say about Ankara really – an enforced extra night stay due to the train. Kayseri is a good 7 hr haul on the train but a bit more comfortable than a bus, although likely slower. And the train cost? Almost could not believe it - $5 for a 7 hr train ride! Kayseri I will stay in a couple of nights then head off deeper into Cappadocia at Goreme etc where all that strange “tuft rock” scenery and underground churches etc are a feature. Hopefully can wait out the transport chaos of the end of the Sacrificial holiday this coming weekend out there before a another long haul down to the coast to Adana, likely on the train, then another train to Konya (thanks for the ideas to the Seat 61 website on trains). I have 2 weeks from now to get to Athens so sure I will miss “a lot” (whatever that is – you see what you see I say).
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