Ankara by Midnight
Posted: Sep 13, 2003 5:58:45 PM
Okay, I've had a tentative few days getting over this very unpleasant stomach bug, and although I am working hard never to be too far away from a decent toilet (a task that is actually somewhat difficult given that even the pay-toilets here are filthy, and usually of the squat variety anyway) I think I'm back now.
I have been causing the bus company I'm using to tour around some small difficulty in the past few days, asking to be dropped off at places that, although they are technically on the route, are not the sort of places that most people stop off at. Hence, there have been some 'situations', when the bus has been unable to find the pick-up point and I have been left waiting for one hour or two wondering if I'm getting a lift or not. This is not a pleasant prospect when one of those pick-ups is due at a closed train station at midnight. But I get ahead of myself.
After the fun Konya stop, I went through Goreme in Cappadocia, which has one of the most incredible, outlandish, alien, and outstanding landscapes I've seen. I would try to describe it, but I think that all descriptions are doomed to failure given the sheer bizarreness of the area. If you're curious do a websearch, and I'm sure that you'll find out what I mean. A particular highlight was a visit to an underground city, and I mean a real underground city, formerly home to approximately five thousand people living up to eight levels below the surface.
After that, it was on to Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. As I've said, it's not exactly the party capital of Turkey, so very few people on my current circuit stop off there, but I really wanted to see the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations. Disadvantage: I was dropped off there at half past midnight, without a hotel or hostel reservation.
Fortunately I ran into a very friendly security guard who - although he didn't speak a word of English, and I only speak a few words of Turkish - was very keen to help me out. First we went to his security station, where I had a late dinner of Turkish salad and watermelon with him and the other security guards. None of them spoke English either, but we laughed a lot and they let me hold their pistols (presumably loaded) while we had a group photo taken.
From there it was directly to a hotel, and although it was a little more expensive than I had wanted (possibly a kick-back to the guard was involved) it was one in the morning and I wasn't about to complain. And it had a very good bathroom.
The Museum of Anatolian Civilisations was very impressive, as many of the finds from said underground city, Catalhoyuk, and several other ruins have been housed there. And it had a very good bathroom.
I waited at the same rendezvous point that I was dropped off at two days earlier, and although the bus didn't arrive until one in the morning I was actually very cheerful throughout, even when a cadre of taxi drivers congregated outside the closed train station and (I presume) enquired in very loud voices whether I needed a lift anywhere, as I obviously wasn't catching a train tonight. I presume this is what they were saying because they only spoke Turkish and a little German. Actually I think one of them was showing off to the others that he could speak German, and so was quite put out that I wasn't Teutonically-inclined.
I'm back in Istanbul now, and having been here once before it feels strangely like home; I'm staying in a different hostel tonight; tomorrow I finally visit the Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque; the day after, I fly out for Napoli and the next phase of the trip.
But I am mostly thankful for one thing. This hostel has a very good bathroom.
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