Visting Turkey Right Now

Feedback from travelers recently returned from Turkey: what's good, what's bad, what they found

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Tavsan
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Visting Turkey Right Now

Post by Tavsan » Wed Jul 06, 2005 9:35 pm

Merhaba!

We are visiting family right now in Ankara. We flew Turkish Airlines out of Chicago. A word to the wise, you may lose luggage between Chicago and Istanbul. We were in line behind a person in Chicago who lost a piece of luggage only to have it reappear in Istanbul. I think the person was on their way back from the states so it went to Chicago and back to Istanbul. Either way the person didn't seem very happy. Then my wife lost a piece of luggage between Istanbul and Chicago but it eventually showed up a day or so later. We have never ever lost a piece of luggage while traveling to Turkey so this was a big surprise.

There is some sort of strike or slow-down looming for the airlines so you may have some delays on domestic flights. We had about an hour delay between Istanbul and Ankara.

I got a pleasant surprise at the visa booth in that I noticed that they reduced the price of the old rubber stamp down to $20!

Ankara is just wonderful as always. A bit of sticker shock at Starbucks though $4 for a tall. Thankfully we are sticking to tea while we are here.
Food has been reasonably priced thus far. We are eating a lot of fresh veggies and fruits and the produce here is second to none.

Ankara has great shopping and a fairly trendy fashion sense. We went to Armada Mall today. Pretty pricey. We haven't settled in to our traditional shopping trips yet to Ulus and a few other places around town.

If you visit Ankara whenever possible take the smaller vans that zip around the city. They seem to get you there a lot quicker and it is much more of an adventure in driving.

The weather here is warm during the day and cool and breezy at night. Speaking of night, we are staying up in the hills outside of Ankara. It is truly one of the most beautiful cities anywhere when lit up at night.

Next week we are off to Antalya for some R and R seaside.

Güle Güle


Al
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Post by Al » Thu Jul 07, 2005 12:47 am

I'll be in Antalya in a week. I'd appreciate it if you would put in my order for cooler, less humid days in advance. Thanks!

sinan
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Post by sinan » Thu Jul 07, 2005 1:12 am

Hi Tavsan,

The people leaving say "Allahaismarladik" and staying say "Gule Gule". So we have to swich our role.

I am happy that you Love Ankara and I am sure you will love other part of Turkey too

I wish you have nice trip in Turkey

Sinan

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Post by Tavsan » Thu Jul 07, 2005 9:51 am

Al, I have e-mailed the National Center for Humidity Control. They inform me that they are "on it."

Sinan, my wife laughed when she read your message and said, "Tell Sinan we ARE staying this time for good." This is news to me so I think we may need to have a talk about our future travel plans :) Perhaps this explains why "Anne" (mom) is so happy these days.

According to yesterday's Hürriyet, for those hitting the resort circuit next week I believe it is the Silence Beach Resort is hosting Sibel Can and Sedar Ortaç. Those of you who are Turkish music fans won't be disappointed.

Today's Çay Report: Three glasses already and I admit I am drinking a bit slow. Weather off the balcony is bright and sunny. I could be stuck here all day!

Shopping Tip of the Day: If you go to a Paşabache store check out the Anadolu Collection and clear out a place in the ol' china cabinet for a piece or two. Beautiful stuff.

Allahaismarladik --Sinan I say this in hope that my wife is kidding although she said we will be shopping retirement property in Antalya. Yikes I am too young to retire!

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Post by Tavsan » Fri Jul 08, 2005 10:09 pm

The list of people who look better than me in a travel vest is growing considerably. So far I have: 1) Archaeologists; 2) Elderly Turkish men; and 3) Random European travelers. Travel vests are functional and are fun to wear getting here but once you arrive they gotta go back into the luggage or otherwise you risk a total travel fashion meltdown!

So far we have been to Çankaya (I think I spelled that right), Kizilay, and Kavaklidere. Yesterday we had lunch at a relative's house that was about two doors down from the Kuwaiti Embassy. Note to self: Never be that guy. . .you know that guy with the large black Swiss Army backpack running toward a car filling up with people in front of a foreign embassy right after a terroist attack in another country puts the world on edge. You WILL get a lot of concerned stares from people with machineguns.

We had pide yesterday. Between mom-in-law's borek and general cooking and other national treasures like pide it is food heaven here! And mom you're the best! As for that diet I was managing quite nicely. . .I say what diet?

The chamber of commerce of Ankara is sponsoring a citywide sale through the end of August. Look for the seal of approval. Indirims (sales) everywhere!

We rode two or three buses yesterday and today, plus took our old standbys the small vans. The vans still win hands down! Disney cannot even come close to the fun you have on a van. Seriously, just riding around on them creates such great memories.

Window shopped silver in downtown Ankara. A much better place the shop for silver than the traditional tourist cities in Turkey such as Istanbul. Fantastic quality and the prices are so reasonable this year. And don't forget the gold. Wow!

Tip: When walking in Turkey it is easy to be sucked in by the scenery. In the cities especially periodically look down to assure your feet are still under you. Seriously, there are a lot of little dips in the sidewalks and little up and down steps going into businesses. Curbs can sometimes be uneven.

Wish you all were here!
Last edited by Tavsan on Sat Sep 02, 2006 5:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SusanInToronto
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Post by SusanInToronto » Fri Jul 08, 2005 10:29 pm

I'm enjoying your posts so much! Thanks. :D Keep them coming!
Susan B

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Post by sinan » Sat Jul 09, 2005 4:05 am

You are really lucky guy Tavsan

I would like to get your mom BOREK too. I will be in Turkey July 18th BUT not in Ankara BUT you can send me to Kusadasi, OR bring me. why not you can stay with us. You can give me you mom's borek and I can give you SIRINCE wine if you like

Have a nice day in Turkey

Sinan

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Post by Tavsan » Mon Jul 11, 2005 11:46 am

Sinan:

We were probably neighbors there and never knew it! Davutlar (hope that one is spelled right) was where we hung our hats in the summer until recently. Davutlar is one of the best kept secrets in Turkey I am convinced. Hey we should most definitely get together some time over here for borek and perhaps a bit of wine or raki.

Speaking of best kept secrets, there is so much right here in Ankara that gets overshadowed by Istanbul. For instance here in Dikmen there is a wonderful park with statues of Ataturk and a crowd that pays tribute to the site where Ataturk first visited Ankara. If you are an Ataturk buff you must see this collection of statues.

Phrygians, Persians, heck even Alexander the Great were all in the neighborhood here in Ankara at some point in history. And let's not forget the Galatians! The Galatians were responsible for Citadel that is a classic piece of Ankara architecture. It is considered by some if not many to be the origins of what would become the city itself.

There are so many great museums in the city of Ankara. It could keep a history nut busy for days. My favorite is museum highlighting the culture of the Anatolian people. There is a collection there that was recovered after a bit of a messy lawsuit in which Turkey had to sue the US to get some of its treasures back. In fact, the case was highlighted in the book "Stealing History" by a fellow named Atwood just last year.

I hear that the Museum of the War of Independence is worth seeing as is the museum on ODTU (Middle East Technical University's campus) since I believe the university's museum has a good deal of urban archaeological items from right here in the city.


A bit more about just day-to-day activities here. We have been here a week and I have got to see a lot of carpets being washed outside, which would probably freak out those who baby their carpets and kilims. Also, two days ago a young girl next door took her bed apart and cleaned the wool stuffing from her mattress in the driveway. It is a science believe me! And summer is the season for weddings! Whew lots of people getting married in the city.

I have discovered that really good köfte (at least those that look like American breakfast link sausages) should have Cumin AND Oregano (who knew?). And there is this milk pudding with a name I have not quite yet mastered in pronunciation much less spelling. Let's just say it has rosewater and cinnamon and powdered sugar 'nuff said.

Also I have lost count of the number of different cheeses I have sampled here over the years but the Cholesterol Hall of Fame called yesterday about membership. The cheese in Turkey is so good. The best cheese I have ever tasted is one of the white cheeses here made out of goat's milk. This is coming from a cheese-o-holic but if you visit Turkey for one reason and one reason only it could be for the cheese!

Tip: The one thing that always comes back to me here is that the only time one truly needs to hurry is when crossing the street. The rest of life, time with friends and relatives, meals, etc. are made to be enjoyed and time should be spent on things you love the most.

Ankara is tops in my book. It is a large city but without feeling congested. It has a great location for additional day or two day trips. However, a word of caution. I would not just drop in on Ankara. I would plan and plan well. Certainly, a kind soul like Tom who has this wonderful website would be helpful in planning your journey. He no doubt knows some of those surprising discoveries one can make on their travels and can thus head you in the right direction.

Wish you were here!
Last edited by Tavsan on Sat Sep 02, 2006 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

OFFICIAL TOUR GUIDE
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Post by OFFICIAL TOUR GUIDE » Mon Jul 11, 2005 12:57 pm

Tavsan,

As far as I understand you are still in Ankara and one more gourmet and museum tip for you if you ever plan to go to Castle or Anatolian Civilizations Museum area nowadays. Opposite the main entrance of the Castle there opened a new private museum, recently renovated Çengel Han, by the Koç family. (Museum tip)

As far as the gourmet tip is concerned, if you want to eat real Ankara yaprak "döner" cooked over charcoal (not over gas fire) you can try "Meşhur Dönerci ve Köfteci NECMETTİN USTA", which is almost opposite Çengel Han or to the right of the main gate to the castle. Don't be distracted by the shabby look of the place, you pay for what you eat not where you sit. You will be amazed by the visitors if you go there around noon time. (Embassy people, businessmen, bankers, doctors from nearby university hospitals etc)

If you still have time, just go down the steep street leading to copper alley to enjoy new, old and semi antique copper, wooden, bronze pieces. If you want to see rare pieces you can visit Mr. Erol Erzurumlu's shop which is one of the most frequently visited one by celebrities and formal diplomatic and military delegations.

When you are still around the area, I also recommend that you visit Arslanhane Cami (Ahi Şerafeddin Cami) which date back to late Seljuk Turkish period (end 13th century). It is one of the 12 wooden columned mosques in Turkey and the tops of the wooden columns are decorated with marble column caps. You will have a chance to compare simple and functional Seljuk mosque architecture with that of imperial mosques in İstanbul.

Happy trails.
Selahattin Tümer

selahattintumer@yahoo.com

Tavsan
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Post by Tavsan » Mon Jul 11, 2005 10:51 pm

I tip my hat to the Official Tour Guide! I almost fell out of my chair when I read your post. Is this the same Koç family, if memory serves correctly, who is responsible for one heck of a museum in Istanbul? I had no idea that they endowed a museum in Ankara. That really made my day. I will print this one off for when we return from Antalya. The last time I was there we spent quite a bit of time but I cannot wait to go back. It is one of my favorite places in Ankara. Have I told you how much I love Ankara :) As for the restaurant, I will check it out. I remember going to some place up by the old castle that had Zenger in the title of it. Man was it a great place.

Tip: If you visit Turkey learn to talk Soccer :)

Tavsan


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