We really like Ankara, Very very very Hilly! But you know, not heaving with tourists, and prices for eating out which Istanbul could really learn from. We really used this as a stop-gap for grabbing visas and picking up our train to Iran. was always going to be a transit stop. The people here speak English even less than Istanbul, in fact non-existent, but so eager to help us get what we needed to eat, or drink.
We visited the Uzbeckistan Embassy which is open 9-12a.m.and although we had tried to fill in online the visa application form and print, three times, it wouldn’t. We were directed to a small basement round the corner from the Embassy, by the lovely Uzbeck consul, to a small internet office where a very nice young woman fills in the form and prints it off for you, all for a princely 10tl. Back we trot to the uzbeck embassy and hand in our forms, only to be told that they cannot issue them in Ankara, and gave us the choice of Tehran, or Ashgabat, we chose Tehran, as we did not have three days to wait for it in Ankara. The took copies of our passports, and gave us the original applications back, for us to take to their consulate in Tehran, for Monday.
We had just enough time to get over to the Turkmenistan Embassy, we thought we would try our luck getting our Turkmen visa as well as we already had a LOI. We arrived with 15 mins before they closed for lunch and managed to start the process of application, we showed our LOI, and first we were quoted $75 for a less than 3 day issue for the visa, as once again we didn’t have 3 days to wait. As we were filling in our forms the consul there came out and informed us that the price was now going up to $113, and we had to pay through the bank across the road, bring back the receipt and he would issue the visa, or we could get them inTehran. We we chose Tehran, and walked out with our LOI. we are now aware that that is the price for instant visa issue.
I sometimes wish we had done all this before leaving the UK, but the whole idea about the aspect of this trip was flexibility. Alas not without cost.
Citadel Day, today we took the metro into central “oldAnkara”, which is largely very modern, and a smaller very ancient part. The Museum of Anatolian Civilisation was our first call, and having walked from the metro up another hill! Were not really sure the lonely planet map was very accurate, coupled with the fact that I had eaten something that disagreed with me; I could see I was not going to make it on foot. We flagged down a Taksi, which looked like he had done this one many times before, and charged us 5tl to take us up a fair way to the museum. I have to say from where my tummy was at it was well worth it(the 5tl). When we arrived and walked through the gates it was like an oasis of cool trees and beautifully laid out grounds. We paid 15tl each to get in, but this was a stunning museum, not boring or stuffy at all. We found state of the art WC’s with air con, and very modern features all around a 15th century beautifully restored building. It has been voted 1994 museum of Europe and I think still holds that title for me today. Photography is allowed in the first set of halls, which for me enhances my experience, and rightly the second set of halls it was not allowed, but then you saw so much ancient pottery, metals, gold and precious ceremonial, burial, and everyday artefacts, it would have been lost on camera.
After we rested and refreshed we walked up a little further up the very steep hill to the site of the old citadel, or Ankara Fort.
In here village people still live and work, mostly for the tourists, but it is not “tack Ville”, they leave that to the stalls outside the walls! We found a lovely café courtyard where we sat and had a couple of well earner drinks and soaked up the lovely calm atmosphere missing in down town Ankara.
You are aware that you are still walking uphill as you pass through the windy street lined with houses looking like they are about to fall over and still lived in. They are in poor repair, but you can see where once they would have been stunning. Lots empty and some lived in; a small community still thrives here. Lots of children all under 14, run and play football in the various small squares you pass through. Finally we reached the end of the village and we were able to look out onto the mound across the modern road built in-between the two hilly outcrops, here you could see 14th and 15th Century buildings in decay, with just one or two here and there with people still resident, almost slum like, sad really as this could have been preserved for cultural history.