For the first time I can remember, Life in Gocek missed the Sunday deadline! My only excuse is that I was travelling back from a short visit to Ankara, the capital of Turkey.
I must admit I felt very provincial fighting my way through the traffic and crowds of a big city – so different from quiet Gocek. The traffic was horrendous and the people! Still, it was worth it to visit just a few of the fantastic places in the city.
It was a long 8-hour journey by car but the changes in scenery were interesting. Once we left the mountains behind, most of central Turkey is flat with some very strange outcrops of rock from time to time.
Our hotel in Ankara was small but very comfortable and the staff were all very friendly. If you are visiting the city, the Sahinbey hotel is worth a look.
On our first day we investigated the Museum of Anatolian Civilization – an interesting collection of artefacts, some going back 5,000 years. Wanting something different for lunch, we took up our chopsticks at the Quick China restaurant – a lovely change of food but slightly unreal in a Turkish sidestreet.
We battled our way round the market in the afternoon – I shall never grumble about Gocek market again. Market traders shouting their wares, people barging in front of you – absolute chaos but, as always, interesting.
The highlight of the second day was a visit to Ataturk’s mausoleum which is a really imposing memorial to the founder of modern Turkey. There is an amazing museum there too, covering the changes Turkey experienced following the First World War. As we visited the actual mausoleum, a group of people were laying a wreath accompanied by a fanfare of what we assumed was the Turkish version of the Last Post. It was an incredibly moving experience.
A brief visit to one of Ataturk’s houses set in the grounds of the modern White Palace was followed by a brief wander round the part of the city where a number of old houses have been renovated and turned into shops and restaurants.
I found the contrasts between old slums and new modern shopping centres and high-rise blocks absolutely fascinating, even more so as a few of these appallingly derelict buildings still appeared to be occupied.
The trip made me realise how much more of this amazing country we have to see and appreciate. However, in the meantime, I am going to chill out for the next few days and enjoy the peace of Gocek.
On a final, more serious, note, there was a major explosion in the centre of Ankara at the end of the day we left. So tragic in this amazing city.