Off and On the Beaten Path

Today I think was the day that I finally may be off jet-lag. I was able to fall asleep before my usual midnight and sleep a good solid 8 hours – also something that hasn’t happened for me before now.

I decided to trust my handy dandy Lonely Planet and check out Ankara Kalesi – Ankara Citadel which is a castle and historic area of the city. I knew I had to go back to Ulus – where I was yesterday – and to look for the hill with the impressive building sitting but otherwise I was just gonna wander and hope I stumbled across the right way.

On my way I found a cute park on the same hill – tons of benches and shade so I decided to re-read the section on Ankara Kalesi in my book. While doing so an English lady asked me if I knew the direction to the museum and I did because I was just there yesterday. Another plus to my day.

In wondering the park I went up and entered into an old walled in area where people were milling about their every days. I thought this was the right direction but soon learned when half the roads were dug up that it probably wasn’t – but committed to my “detour” I trudged on – crossing over makeshift bridges of stonework and hoping the road edge doesn’t crumble when I step on it. A little boy with a kite found me and explained to me that usually this way to the citadel was open but not right now. So I decided it was time to turn around, after getting a few pictures of the great view.

My friend fixing his kite after talking to me

Torn up roads

Make shift bridges – had to cross quite a few of these – not the most stable either

Some great sights were seen though from women banging out rugs and others attending to Angora wool. The buildings were definitely old with many in need of significant repairs – but nonetheless the area had a charm to it – ripped up streets and all. I didn’t take any pictures of the people though because I didn’t want to ask – thought I would let them be and enjoy their Saturday in peace.

I then wondered back down the hill and decided that if I go to the museum first I will be able to follow Lonely Planet’s directions. Worked great and I was soon back amongst foreigners and locals alike touring the “tourist” section of the historic district. There were stores selling Turkish goods on the walk to the castle – I stopped into a few for window shopping but otherwise carried on my way. Plenty of time in Turkey and many more places to visit where I can drop my dime (:

Now the view from the top is just breathtaking – decided to take a rest and chilled out for a good half hour just looking out over Ankara and replaying my last week in my head – what a city. While up there the Call to Prayer sounded and it was extremely loud because there is a Mosque right next to the Citadel – the sound still brings a smile to my face.

Looking through a window in a tower

The main part of the citadel that everyone climbs up – where I took my 30 min rest

That is the area I was before with the dug up roads – close but not exactly the right spot

In the middle is AnıtKabir 

The big mosque is Kocatepe – I’ve walked by and did again today but still need to explore it.

One of the towers from a different angle

This ceramic plate was by its lonesome self on one of the walls

Love these windows

Narrow streets with shop vendors – there are dondurma (ice cream) freezers all throughout the city

I wondered back down and decided that I was just gonna stroll back to Kızılay instead of taking the metro. Wanted to see more sights of Ankara. It was about a 4km walk but I came across an art Museum along the way that I will go back to sometime next week – or hope to at least. I then wondered into the shopping district and came across a book store. On a whim I went in and low and behold I found Water for Elephants in Turkish for only 7 TL ($3.75) – it was new too! What a steal so I had to buy it. Loved the book so now have something to practice my Turkish with. I then came across Dost, another bookstore. It is mentioned in Lonely Planet so thought I’d see if they had a Turkish-English pocket dictionary since my other one got ruined by an exploding banana in my bookbag ): They did so I snatched that bad boy up too!

Then my books and I were off to the metro. In the neighborhood I stopped in the grocery store to pick up oats (since I found them yesterday) some cinnamon and milk because tonight I am gonna make me some overnight oats for tomorrow’s breakfast!!! Woot Woot.

All in all a great Saturday and I am now thoroughly exhausted with a full tummy of delish Turkish mom home cooking. Boy is she great or what!

Cheers from abroad


Museums, Dyed Chicks, Cookies and Dinosaurs…

Apologies for this coming to you a day late (photos didn’t want to upload and I didn’t want to post without them)…

but Yes yes, you read correctly – somehow my day involved Museums, Dyed Chicks, Cookies and Dinosaurs.

Now if you read a post of mine from earlier in the week, you would know that I talked about dinosaurs starting to appear in the main square/park here. Well as of today they are fully set up and let me tell you – Turks know how to impress with dinosaurs. Not only did they look believable but they moved, made sounds, some had water come out of their mouths and others smoke – incredible. The square was packed with everyone admiring the dinosaurs, but I managed to get a few photos nonetheless. I figured out that they are a part of the Ankara Shopping Festival which runs June 8 – July 1 so thankfully my dino friends will be sticking around for a bit (:

Kızılay Square is covered with these banners

How about the job of guarding a dinosaur all day?

They were everywhere with tons of onlookers

They had lots of T-Rex statues – I guess everyone’s favorite


This dino smoked and had water drool!

Dinos lurking in the park

If you look closely you can see the smoke coming out of his mouth (:

But I’m jumping ahead as my stroll through “Jurassic Park” was at the end of my day.

Post Turkish, my friend and I went to grab lunch. Turks have buffets too. You put whatever on a plate, have it weighed and pay. A nice system – lets you sample a whole bunch of things which is definitely my style when in a new area – gotta figure out what’s the best (:

My plate – TL 5 – so great!

Another girl met up with us and we headed on over to the  Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.  Yesterday while hanging out we decided that we would have time today to do a museum and thus stuck to our plan. The museum was great – many of the exhibits were closed for renovation, but the main ones were open. It offered another 5 TL audio guide – so sure enough I was a tacky tourist again, but was also a heck of a lot more knowledgeable on the Civilizations of the Anatolian region as well. The Museum won the 1997 European Museum Award – impressive even if that was a good 15+ years ago. Definitely learned a lot about the area and its history.

Outside the Museum

Map of Turkey with all the Ancient Civilizations Marked

Statue of King Mutallu – 8th Century B.C.

Gold mouth and eye covers used in burials

Pots and Stone Reliefs

A Neo-Hittite 2-headed restored Column base

Stone Relief – 2 lion men armed with swords at their waist. It is carved in orthostat limestone from Aslantepe and is Neo-Hittite

Iron dagger – handle made of gold – the iron degrades fast – from the Bronze Age

View from the hill where the Museum sits atop

Afterwards we walked around the area (Ulus – known to be very cheap) and one of the girls bought a Turkish tea pot to send home. Turkish tea pots are double stacked – one for just water and the other for the tea – when you pour a cup of Turkish Tea you do half water and half tea – not sure why but it makes for a great cup of çay (tea).

Ulus Shopping – lots of fabric, kitchen and clothes stores

Ulus Shoppıng – on our way to the pazar

Kina is Henna in Turkish

Afterwards we wondered down into the more traditional pazar (bazaar) shopping area. On the way 2 shops caught my eye. They were filled with ducks, chickens, chicks, etc. I guess that is one way to get your food fresh. We went over to look closer upon which the shopkeeper let us hold the chicks. Haha it was quite the experience – he even wanted us to hold a goose, but  that was a bit more intense looking since the goose did not seem to be having a good day. However, even with all this commotion going on – sitting in a box a few feet away was the most astonishing sight of the day – a box full of dyed chicks! I mean green, yellow, orange and one purple chick. I was in shock. We figured out that they are sprayed different colors for little kids – still this seems odd to me.

Baby chicks for sale

The one purple chick ıs ın the upper left hand corner – most bizarre thing I have seen in Turkey thus far

After our adventures at the “bird” shop we headed into the fruit, nut, etc. area. More tame to say the least. There was the most beautiful display of Turkish cookies and I just couldn’t resist. Not to mention that they were only 4.95 TL (less than $3) for a kilo! The cookie man got a good laugh out of my shock though – so if it put a smile on someone’s face then taht’s all that matters. Ahhhh. I asked for a sorted arrangement as did one of the other girls and we were soon on our way with our treats. It will take me a while to try them all but totally worth it. Definitely going to have to go back for the shopping in the Ulus area. The Turks even go there so that they get the most bang for their buck – do as the locals do!

Mounds upon mounds of Turkish cookies – usually made with nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc)

The man had an extremely long display table

My loot – a Turkish cookie a day…

Cheers to a good start to the weekend