It’s a couple hundred kilometers from Ankara to Beypazari, where I am now, which is a little market town in the hills, so most of the time today was either trying to determine the way out of Ankara, see King Midas’s tomb (!!!) and make my way via some great back roads up here, where I’ll be hitting the big outdoor market in the morning. . . .
Go In and Out the Capitol
As you might remember from a deliberate reading of these reports, I don’t mind getting lostâ€”after all, Robert’s Rule Number Two of Travel is just that: Get Lost!
And out in the country, that’s a pretty good plan. But not in big cities. The worst couple of hours of the trip last year was trying to navigate Plovdiv and Bucharest, although we weren’t lost in Bucharest, we certainly were in Plovdiv.
And today, it took almost an hour longer than it should have to get out of Ankara. Ah, well, I’d rather be lost in Ankara than know where I was in Auburn. . . .
I’m pretty good at travelling by the seat of my pants, and bombing around, but I’m the least effective getting in and out of major cities. For the Central Europe trip in 2011, a friend is loaning me his GPS, so I’ll have it on for getting into and out of the big cities (Vienna, Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Kiev, Krakow, etc.).
Once I got to Ankara on Sunday PM I just parked the car and never used it until this AM when I headed outâ€” I walked, took the bus, took a dolmus, rode the Metro, etc. That’s how I normally handle big citiesâ€” drive in, park, use mass transit, drive out again.
So I think the GPS will be a big helpâ€” I looked into it this year for this trip, but apparently there are only about a dozen GPS locations in the systems I could get at home for the whole of Turkey.
Here’s the old castle at the top of the hill from the roadway—I’d normally keep the bus and the road out of the picture, but I wanted you to have the scale. That’s one of he dolmuses, by the way.
And here’s a house I saw where the colors caught my eye
The people who lived here were washing their rugs— garden hoses running, young women on hands and knees scrubbing them with brushes—
And the boss watching them
Yesterday PM, as I headed to the train museum, I grabbed a Doner Kabob, a Turkish Hoagy, essentially, and was walking toward the Metro stop and eating and this guy running a pretzel stand said “Bon Appetite!” to me, so we started talking in English, French, German, and some Turkish.
I stopped to visit because I always try to lead with Turkish, and often, as I’m trying to remember the phrase as I walk into a store, for example, the clerk just beats me to it and says, “Hello.”
How can they tell?
This is him and his pal.
Didn’t Look All That Golden to Me
The country around Ankara (220 miles ESE of Istanbul, 135 miles due south of the Black Sea) is where the Phrygians lived and there are two myths connected to them.
The first is all the King Midas and the golden touch business— and the second is the Gordian Knot legend surrounding Alexander the Great.
(A significant ox-cart involved in choosing a king had been tied to a post with an intricate knot which remained for decades (whatever) in the palace of the kings, and was apparently too intricate to untie.
In 333 BC, while wintering here, Alexander the Great attempted to untie the knot, but could not. So he sliced it in half with a stroke of his sword, the so-called “Alexandrian solution”.)
Well there’s no tangles of string or cords or whatever on the ground here, but there is a tomb (actually scores and scores of them in the area, mostly unexcavated) under an artificially created mound about 75 feet high and 250 feet across, and someone was buried under there in about 1750 BCE with some pretty good loot, most of which is in the big museum I visited on Monday, and almost all the kings in the area were named Midas, so . . . . .
The local museum was really good, but got invaded by a phalanx or three of high-school noise-makers.
Time Warpâ€”The Cold War in Turkey
And on the way out of there (on the back roads to here) was a really big Army post. With many watchtowers about 25 feet high, lots of guards on duty with lots of firepower, tall fences around the whole thing, and kids’ playgrounds inside the fence.
And tour busses.
And at the gates, there wasn’t just some kid with a machine gun, the kids with the guns had flak vests on and body armour and were inside little blast-proof structures (think of a 5 foot tall circular snow fort with a narrow entrance only in the back) and for obvious reasons I don’t have any pictures to show you, but it looked like Checkpoint Charlie about 30 years after the fact.
A Great Back Road
“Don’t Throw Me in the Briar Patch, Bre’r Fox”
I chose to take a back road out of the Midas area to got up to where I am, and it was about 50 miles or more of great countryside (looking much like standard American West high plateaus— some green, some brown, some irrigation, gently contoured land with some rocky outcrops—and poppies.
Originally written for Two Minutes in Turkey