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24, (ish) Hours in Ankara

So an unexpected diversion to a city we never intended to visit, thanks to some Turkish sweets and a loose crown on my tooth; basically snacking and the bloody thing came off… dentist, (decent dentist) now urgently required and after a brief check on the net/our guidebook it quickly became clear that Ankara was the best option as it was only a short, (Turkish trains a trains are pretty dam slow so short is about 7 hours) ride away.

I was loathed to get the train but common sense prevailed in this case and missing a few days on the bike was worth it in order to get my tooth sorted quickly.

The Train

It’s only been a day and I don’t remember the name of the town we got the train from, (don’t think I knew the name when we were waiting there, suffice it to say that it was a medium sized backwater nowhere (It’s Osmaneli west of Ankara – Kat). The time options were a bit sparse, the best being one that set off at 7pm and arrived about 2am, (I know… not great, but at least we’d get a couple of hours shut eye). We opted for the standard sleeper style car which I thought was a bargain at 20TL each; it’s a 4 birth sleeper compartment, (which we had to ourselves) that was private and comfortable. The people in ‘cattle class’ didn’t look to be having it so good, 6 people plus all their luggage cramped into the same size compartment, (no beds) – I travelled in a similar class in China once for a 14 hour journey a vowed never again, *shudder*. The bikes were an extra 10TL each to be put in the cargo wagon… bit of a struggle lifting them up from the very low platform, (ground) but they were secure there even with nearly all the bags on.

So after delays, (I think caused by the bomb that had gone off in Ankara that day) we arrived at 3am and cycled through the city and secured ourselves a spot at the first cheap hotel we could find.

The Day

We were expecting to be holed up for a few days here because of the tooth, (appointments, etc) but were pleasantly surprised when that very morning the problem was resolved, (and cheaply too!) at a very nice modern dental surgery; leaving us with a day to explore the city.

We weren’t expecting much from Ankara, people, (local and foreign) having told us, “It’s boring as fuck”. And for the most part they were right… compared to Istanbul it’s bland with a few tenuous attractions…. One day would be enough for anyone.

Kat and Nico in Ankara

Kat and Nico at some boring fucking ruins

But despite this we ended up having a great time – we met a French cycle tourist, Nico who had been travelling for two and a half years, so we spent the afternoon chatting to him, wandering about, visiting some crappy ruins for 3TL. Later on we met up with Nico and his Couch Surfing host, (and about 10 of their friends!) at a nice downtown bar for some food, drinks and water pipe… splendid evening with lots of interesting banter.

Kat in Anakra Bar

Kat boozing it up at some bar

The only other interesting thing we did that day was buy some fucking Bear Mace… to be used on vicious wild dogs and/or vicious wild people should the need arise. The best part of is the pictures on the pack… check it.

Bear Mace

You want some fucking bear mace!

The markets were quite interesting to wander around but nothing really compared to Istanbul.

The Moral

So kids, the moral of the story is that Ankara is boring a fuck and if you’re going to Istanbul you’re probably best off avoiding it unless you have to pick up a visa or something; everything Ankara can do, Istanbul does better. But like anywhere in the world with some cool people and a few beers you can make a place fun.

 

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