Another early morning – up at 5:30 and on the road by 7:00. As we left the Cappadocia area we retraced our steps a bit following the Silk Road in the opposite direction then headed north to Ankara. We finally got a glimpse of the one clear volcano cone off in the distance.
The road traveled through mostly flat country with potato and cereal fields. There was a lot of mixed cropping as well – and some really large sunflower fields. And sheep and goats. Lots of sheep and goats. Each herd had some sort of marking on the wool – a color or design – and they seemed to number around 50 to 100 in each herd. Shepherds were usually on foot but a couple on horseback as well. The only other notable feature was a huge salt lake that was only about three feet deep – and a large salt border around the whole thing.
After a couple rest stops we finally reached Ankara – a small city of 30,00 in the 1920s now it has grown to six million as it became the capital of the country. Ataturk wanted to distance the new republic from the Ottoman empire ruled from Istanbul.
Into the city we passed through the wealthy area and area of embassies, then into a poorer section where the traffic was more than chaotic. At a number of intersections it seemed more like a cgame of chicken than any sort of order. Crowded too – but it was a Saturday afternoon. We eventually made our way to the Ataturk Mausoleum.
The mausoleum was a large structure devoted primarily to Ataturk – the father of the republic. There were guards (one each) from the four branches of service (there is a draft in Turkey – all men must serve 16 months). They stood at attention at the entrance to the crypt. The inside of the crypt looked very much like the inside of a mosque with elaborate gold and tile work throughout. There was more of a festive air than solemn with most people posing to have their picture taken by the crypt.
Outside we watched the changing of the guard – oloy about seven people in the guard but they went to all the posts and went through an elaborate ritual – nowhere near as elaborate as others, but interesting. We then walked down the Lion’s Way – the official entrance to the place. Several dozen lions – all lying down but with bared teeth – peaceful but ready.
Then back and through the museum area – mostly aimed at the Turkish experience in WW1 and the war of independence fought against Greece in the early 1920s. The battles, generals, and so on were on display along with the personal effects of many of the participants. Crowded and way too much stuff to look at. We ended the tour by going to the café and Minna got a 25 cent coffee from a machine – that had the spoon included in the cup. She pronounced it “good.”
Then off to the Ankara Archeological Museum – dedicate dthe the Anatolia region and having artifacts dating back 20,000 years or more – from simple scraper tools through the lithic eras into copper, bronze, and eventually iron. There was a great collection of Goddess figures – Venus of Whilendorf types but many different renditions – then others that indicated a shift from Goddess to male god. Quite a nice collection of cuneiform tablets in several languages. All in all an amazing display of thousands of years of change. Then off to the museum shop! Some very nice pieces but my weight limit for stuff as getting very close so I had to limit myself to light pieces.
We then headed off to the hotel through even crazier traffic. It was a Hilton this time with little or no internet access. It was supposed ot be dinner on our own but Gate 1 threw in a free meal at a very nice restaurant as an apology for the mess at the beginning. We had a huge meal with appitizers, salad, pizza, main kabob meal, dessert, tea, and two free beverage drinks. Stuffed!
Then back to the hotel to try to sleep – a 5:15 wake up in the morning and then we head off to Istanbul.