After my rendezvous with Eskheshir my next stop in Turkey was to the capital, Ankara . The drive is close to three hours here and we arrived well past by having some lunch on way . First time visitors to Turkey often make the mistake of assuming that Istanbul is the country’s capital city, when in fact it’s actually Ankara. I was also guilty of this oversight.Ankara isn’t a tourist destination; it’s a seat of government. It’s also a very big city covering a large area. My first impression as we entered was this huge buzzing place which reminded me back of my own city in India , Mumbai.But unlike Mumbai , this was pleasantly cold and it was a welcome break for me from the heat.
I checked into a hotel in the middle of the city.Thou a small one it was comfortable and convenient to move around .But before moving into the hotel our first stop was the ‘The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. ‘The tree-shaded, elegant, 15th-century building was once a marketplace, and has been very effectively converted into a museum. Bas-relief orthostats, which are large square stones that originally decorated the lower part of walls, line the high, domed, central hall. They date to the early Bronze Age and the Hittite Period, and depict, for example, battles involving the Hittites and the Egyptians, or gods and goddesses.
In the halls arranged in a square around the central hall, artifacts are grouped by period and by location, spanning centuries of history. I skimmed, at this point, by just strolling the halls and letting the more striking pieces draw me in. Pottery, metalworking and stone carving are all represented here, in a wide array of styles and periods. Useful items like tools and pottery stand side by side with statues and other ceremonial objects.
I followed the steps downstairs to view the Greek and Roman section, where, among other things, the better finds from the excavation of the Roman baths are on display away from the elements.Outside, I strolled the grounds, where carvings of various kinds dot a sort of sculpture garden. On one side of the building is a row of Roman grave markers, beautifully carved.
In the corner stands a cluster of large clay pots: the sort that cannot stand on their own. These are less decorative than many of the items inside, which I assume means they were storage pots. To do this museum justice would take a couple of hours at least.
I could see Ankara Castle high on a nearby hill from near the museum , but skipped that to check into the hotel . After a quick shower and freshen up I decided to check the night life here and it was weekend . I happened to know this person who lived here from my Instagram followers and he was happy to take me around . So we met around in a nearby pub and instantly hit off with travel stories .
The area around had a good number of pubs and it was buzzing with young crowd .I wanted to try the drink of Turkey and ordered a glass of Raki .It did not appeal to me much as I tasted it but nevertheless I gulped it . People said it was strong enough to hit you bad but nothing ever happened on my head there . As I sat there enjoying some Arabic music and food it was a good time to relax.We walked around a bit and also tried some street food.
Don’t miss having ‘Midye Dolma ‘ from here .Midye Dolma was definitely my favorite snack in Istanbul. Basically, midye dolma means ‘stuffed mussels’. Mind you, I’m not usually big on mussels, but these smelled so delicious, I simply had to try them. The mussels are stuffed with aromatic spiced rice, pine nuts, and currants and served with a lemon wedge on the side. You then sprinkle the lemon juice on top before eating the mussels.We had our midye dolma from a random street vendor we found just off Istiklal Street, but you can find them pretty much anywhere. When in doubt, just go by smell and you’ll find one! A plate of 10 mussels cost us only 10 TL which is an incredible value for money.It was the best I had in life .
Now it was time to hit the bed and the next day was a early start to catch up Anitkabir . It was a short drive from my hotel and I suggest you go to this place early morning as there is a lot to walk here . Set in a large, green parkland on a hill, this imposing building is the mausoleum of Turkey’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. He led the Turks in their war of independence and was the Republic’s first president.
Completed in 1953, Anitkabir consists of a broad, flat, rectangular plaza, with the large, square mausoleum at one end and lower porticoes lined with pillars around the sides. Some rooms behind the porticoes contain exhibits about Atatürk.
I got there just in time as the gates opened and they were very few people that time.I enjoyed wandering the plaza in the morning sunlight and admiring the mausoleum itself. It surprised me that something built in the 1950s – not my favorite architectural period – could be so pleasing to look at. The mausoleum is simple but well-proportioned, and its open design is light and airy, despite its imposing size. Entering the mausoleum, I was again surprised to see that Ataturk’s tomb is quite small, placed at the back of a large, empty, central hallway, and unadorned except for a simple wreath.
There are more things to do in Ankara, and if I had had more time, I might have visited one or more of the other museums, like the archaeological museum or the industrial museum, and perhaps shopped in a market or in the old part of town.
Now it was time to move to another part of Turkey that is the most famous Cappadocia. Enroute here you can stop by ‘ Lake Tuz ‘ which is the largest salt lake in Turkey. We walked right into it to take some cool pictures . When travelling solo , the real challenge is to find someone with camera skills to click yours and I did manage to find a girl who got it right after several attempts . The Salt Lake, Tüz Golu, is located about 120 kilometers south of Ankara, to Cappadocia. With its 1500 square kilometers is the second largest lake in Turkey, but in summer the surface is often reduced to about one thousand square kilometers.
Tüz Golu is one of the world’s richest natural salars, which gives 300 thousand tons of salt per year, 60% of all the production of the country. But this can only be collected in the months of July and August, when the lake is dry. Then only the top layers are collected to ensure that no mud get attached. The clean salt is separated into mounds that workers carry to the small transport trains.
Thus ended our adventure here to go ahead to cappadocia , which is other magical land . Catch my next blog on that soon.
Ankara Castle: Kale Mah., 06240 Altındağ. Open daily 8:00-18:00. No entrance fee.
The Museum of Anatolian Civilization: Kale Mh., Gözcü Sk. No:2, 06240 Ulus/Altındağ. Open daily: April-October 8:30-19:00 and November-March 8:30-17:30. Admission: 36 lira (€5.50/$6).
Anitkabir: Anıt Caddesi Tandoğan. Open daily, but the museum rooms are closed on Mondays. No charge.