Ankara CitadelJune 3, 2017 in Turkey
32 hours after leaving one capital city I found myself bleary eyed and standing in the middle of another a world away. Much like the much maligned Canberra, Ankara isn't on the top of most tourists wish list, and my first impressions certainly weren't convincing - endless sprawl and featureless developments.
The airport bus dropped me off 2kms from my accommodation and, feeling like I needed to stretch my legs, I thought I'd walk not realising that the 2kms were from the base to the top of the highest hill in Ankara. Feeling like I'd need a bit of comfort to get over jet lag, I'd booked into a nice looking small guesthouse in a restored ottoman house in the centre of the Ankara citadel. While the walk was strenuous, it did give me an opportunity to get a better sense of the cities old town centre and the cities geography as I made my way through victory square, through the citadel park, under the ancient walls and found myself in the familiar cobble lined narrow maze that makes up so many old town centres in this part of the world. Of course I got horribly lost trying to find my hotel, making far too many wrong turns into dead ends, making it only too obvious how effective the street design is at confusing invading armies and clueless backpackers.
Eventually, however, I found my accommodation, dumped my bags and was back out with no plan, but to find some delicious Turkish delights of the grilled meats variety. Just outside the citadel walls I found a likely looking place, with a couple of groups of locals sitting out front, sat down, nodded dumbly at the waiters verbal cues and my trust/ignorance was rewarded with a delicious kofté kebab, ayran and tea from a passing cay boy. Feeling recharged, I went for an explore of the streets, eventually finding steps up to the citadel walls, providing views over the city in all its, not so, glorious sprawl.
I know Ankara isn't really isn't on the tourist route, but I was immediately struck by the lack of western tourists, a complete change from my experience through western and central turkey in 2014. Combined with the lack of English spoken and my uselessness with the Turkish language, if this is any indication of what's ahead, I'm in for a fairly lonely trip through eastern turkey.Read more