Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Ankara - first capital on the road

That’s it! Instead of going to Antalya and see more beaches and sunsets I decided to be a reasonable Bulgarian and deal with important stuff first. So Ankara it is! I didn’t expect to find anything amazing here but the city surprised me nicely.

From Babakkale i didn’t take a direct dolmus to Cannakale but pass by Ayvacik so I see Nigal and Omar again. They were really happy to see me, so was I. This time their daughter Marve was there and I spent the whole afternoon with her in their pastry shop (Viva google translator!!!). Such a nice and beautiful girl!

Next morning at 7 am (01.08) my bus arrived to Ankara. I went straight to Anıl’s house (my new host) and I had just enough time to have a shower, some coffee and get ready for the embassy before he goes to work (he works in the Ministry of health). His flat was amazing –right in the centre of the city, it had the rooftop terrace (actually 2 of them) with views over the whole city. He used to throw big parties there and I also experienced a few smaller gatherings. Lucky again!
The roof top terrace

Time for some nargile and chai of course
Mrs Moldova is trying the shisha for a first time
Anil posing and looking miserable

The mosque from the terrace
Ankara is actually a really nice city. It is not as crowded and chaotic as Istanbul but at the same time you can find everything you need – bars, cute restaurants, parks, bazaars...And in my opinion it is organised very well in terms of transport , probably because it´s mach smaller, only 5 million people.

Play station mania (on the street)

Vine leaves (for sarma)

Forgot the name but it was definitely delicious (always with yogurt)
Anıl and his friends are definitely party animals – they would stay up till very late every night and work the next day. Really easy going and friendly, I felt like I knew them for ages. We had lots of chai, and Rakı on the terrace, combined with vanilla flavoured nargile (shisha). Anıl convinced me to stay one more day so after cooking for them we went out to their favourite place Prestige.

Anil, Andreas and Nicolas
The alcohol is very expensive in Turkey because of the taxes but it doesnt stop them drinking. The national drink is Rakı which is similar to the Greek Uzo or Bulgarian mastika. Of course the people who were doing the Ramadan wouldnt have any alcohol during this month.

Now a bit of useful information for those who want to get their visas in Ankara.
TURKMEN EMBASSY – the nightmare for all the backpackers
You take bus No 112/114 from Kızılay and in 15-20 min you are there, the area is full of embassies but the driver will tell you where to get off (you see a new built skyscraper). Then you have to walk 6-7 min uphill. The embassy is open 9 to 12 am everyday for visa applications. I popped in at 11am, I explained my case to the guy there ,the consular was on holiday, so I was lucky that I applied for the visa in Istanbul. Then I paid 55 $ in the bank (10 min walk) and I was told to come back at 5 pm to collect my passport with the visa. No need for LOI if you apply for transit visa (5 days only), but you have to specify dates. It takes about 2 weeks after you apply for the visa to get the approval (you call the embassy and they tell you whether or not you got it). Lots of people get it rejected though.
The guy working there was very friendly but didn’t speak a word of English, so if you don’t speak Russian it might be a problem. Except me, there were only truck drivers there, so he was really interested in my trip, shocked that im traveling alone, that im not married and that im paying for everything myself. Leaving the embassy I got a ride to the center from one of the truck drivers – he helped me dealing with the bank in the morning so we “knew” each other already.

Bus 185 from Kızılay takes you there in 20 min, ask the driver where to get off. Then 10 min walk, people know where it is so it shouldnt be hard to find it. Very helpful embassy, they spoke perfect English, no LOI, got the visa the same day at 4 pm. It cost me 70 $ for 2 weeks. The bank is quite far away, probably 30 min walk downhil, so maybe it make sense to get a bus. It took more than an hour and a half in the bank (Sekerbank) as there was only one guy working behind the counter with clients and probably 6 women doing nothing (ooo im sorry, not nothing, they had at least 3 chai breaks while I was there).

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