Anatolian Express V: Ankara Getaway

Monday, May 19, 2014 
It's been a fun first week back in Turkey, with the first four days spent in Istanbul. But as great as Istanbul is, I also needed to get away from there. One thing I really wanted to do this summer was travel, rather than just hang out in one place the way I usually do when I'm researching. After the last eighteen months or so, I'm interested in catching my breath and spending a bit of time by myself thinking about what to do next. So, after passing a bit of time in the City by the Bos, I decided to head east, to Ankara.

Ankara? Really?

Yes, really.

Greetings from Sunny Ankara!

I'd never spent much time in Turkey's capital before. In fact, I'd only been here once, back in the summer of 2000, when I was still an MA student at Princeton. I was writing my master's thesis on the political rehabilitation of former Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, and had gone out to the western Anatolian city of Aydın, Menderes' ancestral homeland, where I'd met the caretaker of the Menderes estate. Upon meeting me, this guy had immediately telephoned his boss, Aydın Menderes, Adnan Menderes' son. At the time, Aydın Menderes was a member of parliament for the Fazilet Party. After talking to me for a few minutes, Aydın Menderes asked when I could come to Ankara. He wanted to meet me in person.
Aydın Menderes and his father, Adnan


A couple of weeks later I boarded a night train from Istanbul to Ankara, arriving in town first thing in the morning. I went straight to Aydın Bey's apartment in the parliamentary lojman, or residence. Aydın Bey wasn't in great physical shape, having suffered a traffic accident in 1996, ongoing complications from which would eventually take his life in 2011. He was in a wheelchair and said he tired easily, but kindly sat with me for about ninety minutes while I asked him questions about his father.  
After we bade farewell and I left this parliamentary residence, I boarded a minibus to take me back into town. I sat down next to a scruffy-looking man, who started chatting me up. We talked for a while and he asked me a lot of the usual questions regarding where I'm from, how it is that I know Turkish, etc. In all seriousness, I thought the guy was a shepherd or agricultural worker who had come into the city for the day. As the minibus arrived at our stop and I bade him farewell, the fellow grabbed my arm and offered me his card. It turned out he was a member of parliament. 
Nothing so exciting has happened to me on this trip. Instead, Ankara is mainly a stopping-off point on my way to other places. Still, I felt like having a look and checking some things out. Here are some of my photos:
En route to Ankara from Istanbul. 

The first Turkish Parliament




Anıtkabir, Ataturk's mausoleum


Kids flashing nationalist signs


Anıtkabir again


Anyway, this is all I've got time to do right now--I've posted a lot of other Istanbul & Ankara photos in the Borderlands Lounge if you're interested in seeing more.
I'm starting to think Ankaralı Turgut might not really be from Ankara
For now, however, I've got to get a move on, as further travels lie ahead. 
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