Today I decided on taking a little personal adventure. I had been Azusa’s sidekick long enough – I needed to break free and prove that I can walk the streets of Ankara alone. After 4 hours of Turkish language I walked the half hour or so back to my homestay. Along the way I was approached about a survey but waved them off – however it did make me feel good that I was blending into the crowds – that or I just looked like an easy target….. After I had lunch – dolmas and an apple I grabbed my Lonely Planet Turkey book and decided that I might as well honor good ole Atatürk today. Anıtkabir (Memorial Tomb) is the monumental mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Atatürk translates into “Father of the Turks” since he was the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey and was the man behind many of the country’s reforms from social, to women’s rights to the requirement of a surname and the alphabet changing from arabic to roman – at that is only the beginning of what he represents in the eyes of his people. Not shockingly – Anıtkabir is stunning. I definitely enjoyed my time up on Rasattepe (observation hill) providing me with picturesque views of Ankara.
To get to Anıtkabir I had to take the metro to a stop I hadn’t been to before but I figured that if my destination is big and sits on a hill when I come out of the metro I will probably be able to figure out my way. I assumed correct. I took the leisurely stroll up the hill. The landscaping was surreal – everything was trimmed and placed just right.
When I got to the top of the hill I saw a sign for audio guides so thought hey if it’s cheap enough why not – all I had to go off of was a little paragraph in my guide book so thought more information would probably make me appreciate this place even more. My English audio guide was only 5 TL – thats less than $3 – cheapest audio guide that I have ever come across – definitely aided in making my day great!
So there I was looking like a serious tourist – big clunky head phones on, dslr slung over my shoulder, but hey I didn’t care I was ready to pay my respect to Atatürk. Not to mention I was pretty much immediately asked to take someone’s picture – definitely the first give away to being in a tourist spot – but there were tons of Turks there too – actually more Turks than any other nationality – tourist in your own country is totally acceptable too.
My favorite part of the day was walking “The Lion Road” – it is the walkway that Atatürk was carried down. It is lined with 24 lion statues – 12 representing the people of Turkey and 12 representing the soldiers who carried him. In addition they are carved in a Hittite style and simultaneously represent power and peace. What I immediately noticed is that if you are not careful walking along the road you can easily twist an ankle between the pave stones which had significant gaps between them. Naturally there is a reason for this – to make sure people take their time and observe all that is around them – pretty neat.
After wondering the grounds and checking out the extensive museum of Atatürk and the War of Independence I thought it was time to get some city shots and call it a day. While in the museum though I was asked a question by a Turk but with my headset going I wasn’t sure what she said so just replied that I knew little Turkish and she was surprised – apparently I was chameleon like today (: In addition, Ankara is crowded but it wasn’t until I was at the museum and surrounded by a whole bunch of knee biters on school tours that I really felt claustrophobic.
When heading out I spotted an American guy (well I’m assuming all this but he was wearing colored shirts, a polo shirt and Sperry’s with a Turkey Lonely Planet book – in English – I thought it was a fair guess – kinda screams frat boy if you ask me. Looking back I regret not saying something to him, because maybe he too is a random American in the city of Ankara for the summer. Oh well – next time.
But before I leave you with some photos – yes finally as I’ve been promising you since the first Ankara post – I want to rehash a few more things noted in the city that has become my new home.
1. Ambulances may have their sirens blaring but that doesn’t do anything – they are still stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. I guess the pull over rule has yet to come about over here.
2. The cheap prices I am really loving – that may be the best thing about not being in a tourist city. Hot spots don’t allow you to buy fresh squeezed orange juice for less than a dollar – unreal!
3. Who needs a stair master when you have the Ankara metro – the stairs are ridiculous – its like walking ten flights it sometimes feels like. I gotta count the stairs next time. They have escalators available, but I gotta work off all that bread….
4. These people love their bread – bread carts can be found 10 feet from each other – more frequent than the egg shops. Not to mention you can get anywhere from 3-5 bread items for 1 TL – that’s 33 cents – more of the cheap prices.
5. My neighborhood must have the most pharmacies in the world – there can be as many as three in a row next to each other then a kebap stall and then 2 or 3 more pharmacies. I guess if I get sick I don’t have to go to far.
6. It is hot – and some people are still dressed with both long sleeves and pants. Holy moly – maybe I should go visit the barber whose shop is below the home stay and have him chop all my hair off – geeze even a light stroll done not under the shade cover will have you breaking a sweat.
7. Frogger tip – if there is not a light signal then wait patiently with locals and when they go you go. Think of it as piggy backing because you don’t want to be the only one to get hit – then you would just be the stupid foreigner who caused a game over …tss tss.
And now for some photos!!!!
Views of Ankara
The clouds were perfect for photos
The landscaping is in the shape of Turkey (:
Beautiful Landscaping all over the grounds
Women’s Statue – across from the Men’s Statue to show equal representation and footing in Turkish Society
The Men’s Statue
Road of Lions – my favorite part
The Roses alternated white and red for the colors of Turkey – çok güzel (beautiful)
The 40-ton Symbolic Sarcophagus in the Hall of Honor
The carriage that carried Atatürk to his final burial spot
I wonder if graduates in the DC area storm the Washington Monument for graduation pictures??
Road of Lions – Leaving
Cars park in whatever direction they please – doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it all – have noticed it all over the city but had my camera on me this time (:
Cheers for another day in my new home