Wednesday morning, we found the right bus to Ankara in the nick of time with 10 minutes to spare. As said before, I was excited to travel to another city. It also gave me a chance to see more of what the geography of Turkey looked like. I had no preconception if it. Because it’s usually brown on maps, I thought it was just that… brown… and flat. As we left the station the building of Istanbul went on and on and on. I think I even shut my eyes for a rest and when I woke up, we were still in Istanbul! It took us a good hour and a half just to leave that big ass city.
Finally, we started seeing less and less apartment buildings and more factories. Then, finally, the countryside. As I witnessed altering landscape of city and undeveloped land, I filled in the vacuum in my mind of what the country of Turkey comprises of (at least between Istanbul and Ankara). It looks very much like North Carolina between Charlotte and the Western Mountains or between North Carolina to West Virginia; but mostly foothills. When we did reach Ankara, however, there were traces of snow on the ground. Ankara is surrounded by mountain chains.
Something else I noticed possibly as a natural conclusion in the evolution of nations with large populations. There were LOTS of high-rise apartment buildings. Even in towns and cities where it appeared there was land available for residential development.
It took us 7+ hours to reach Ankara. We were to be picked up at the bus station. As we waited, my friend thought it would be a kind gesture to greet them in Turkish. Thus began my crash course in Turkish. The shortness of time and the high probability that I would mess up and embarrass myself made me super nervous. After ten/ fifteen minutes of drilling and practice, they arrived.
“Merhaba!”, (wait for them to say some words…)
“Nasılsın?”, (wait for them to say some more words…)
Then I said, “Sağol! Ben de iyiyim!
I performed reasonably fine, I think. Everyone seemed happy and not confused.
We were picked up by Mustafa and Ayşe The cutest married couple. As said before, Ayshe was a childhood pal of my friend. They had gone to high school together. Ayşe is a coordinator of English teachers at a University in Ankara and Mustafa teaches as well while completing his Doctorate in Comparative English Literature.
After warm salutations, they took us to a restaurant for dinner. We all bonded really fast, and it seemed as if we were friends for a long time already. After dinner, we went on a walking tour of the city.
Ankara was chosen as the capital of Turkey due to its superior natural geographic protection after being moved from Istanbul. It was not as populated as Istanbul. Istanbul’s population being 13 million and Ankara’s 5.5 million. Ankara felt much more manageable and had less of the ‘overwhelming energy’ of Istanbul. There was a lot of new construction occurring. I was told that the Ministry Buildings were being moved to the outskirts of the city to alleviate some of the congestion of the city center. There are a lot of Universities in Ankara, so most of the population is either civil servants or students giving it a young vibe.
Mustafa and Ayşe on the outskirts of the city. And when I say outskirts, I mean OUTskirts! Driving to there home that first night, I thought we were going to another city. It took a good twenty thirty minutes. There were pockets of suburbs along the way, all manifested in high-rise apartment buildings. They lived on the 6th floor of a high-rise building. It was a cute three-bedroom apartment with a gorgeous view of the yet undeveloped part of the city limits.
After a day of traveling on the bus and a walking tour of parts of the city, we were spent and decided to call it a night.
“Well we’re movin on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up
To the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.
Fish don’t fry in the kitchen;
Beans don’t burn on the grill.
Took a whole lotta tryin’
Just to get up that hill.
Now we’re up in the big leagues
Gettin’ our turn at bat.
As long as we live, it’s you and me baby
There ain’t nothin wrong with that!”
The Jefferson’s Theme Song