Anatolian Culture Clash

Ankara (Turkey), 27.04.2013

Today was a pretty mixed day: sea – mountains. Seaside town – rural desert – metropolis. Quite a culture clash. We woke up with the sun shining on the Black Sea port of Sinop, with a great view from the waterfront hotel room over the fishermen’s boats and the harbor. After breakfast we started the day’s trip to Ankara, through the Anatolian mountains. On mostly perfect roads, apart from a few pieces under construction, we drove quickly up to 1400m into the mountains. The scenery was spectacular, dry, dusty mountains, nobody around but the occasional cows or goats. Yesterday we drove on the roads of yesterday’s Turkey, today we saw tomorrow’s. Including the police cars on the side of the road trying to track cars speeding. Fortunately drivers on both sides of the road alert each other of the cops. Blue sky, up to 27 degrees and not a single cloud made this the perfect day on the road.

DSC_0004We stopped at a roadside restaurant/bar for a quick and simple lunch. Corba (soup), salad and köfte made a delicious meal. There is construction all over Turkey it seems. Ever since we left Istanbul there is no half hour of driving without a construction site. Roads are being rebuilt, towns expanded, business districts erected – modernisation is everywhere. And so is the dust all this construction generates in a dry, arid land.

DSC_0017 DSC_0006So it came as quite a cultural shock to drive into Ankara. From the Anatolian countryside the switch to capital city mode goes quite quickly. Suddenly the motorway has 4 lanes, suburbian apartment towers pop up, shopping malls appear – and voilá you’re in the middle of chaotic turkish city traffic. Ankara feels quite different from Istanbul. I’m not sure if this is because the city is new or because it is different. We felt we couldn’t get hold of it, understand it. It’s much newer (since the 1930’s it has gone from around 45.000 inhabitants to almost 4.500.000), has grown uncontrolled, with the respective architectural and city planning sins. But in a growing, fast forward country like Turkey you don’t seem to have the time to think about this.

DSC_0030Since it was the first time we arrived to a place in daylight and with some time for sightseeing, we drove to the Citadel. A castle on a rock overlooking the entire city. The views are spectacular, video here. And the Citadel is a hidden gem, that is currently being cleaned, restructured, polished. The old buildings are rotten and dirty, a shame, since they could be so beautiful. And indeed there is reconstruction under way to make this old town an attraction again. We’re no fans of Disneyland-style old towns, but here the situation is very bad, we don’t understand how in a capital city of such a big and prosperous country the old city can be so run down, poor, and desolate. Therefore it was good to see the area is being redeveloped.

DSC_0026 DSC_0036After the sightseeing, we headed off to our hotel, in the posh Kavaklidere district. Yesterday we spent 8TL on our dinner (döner, Ayran and a coke), today was the chance for quite the opposite. What a pleasure. Although we still haven’t digested the contrast. And before we’ll have the chance to do so, we’ll be off to the countryside again tomorrow.

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Trip data (Day/Total)

– Km driven: 432/5.687

– Hrs driving: 6/-

– Diesel l/100km: 9,4/10,4 (TL 4,13/€1,77 per liter)

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