Capital to Smurf Villages! (Ankara to Kapadokya)

Trip Start Oct 03, 2002
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Trip End Jun 30, 2003


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Saturday, May 10, 2003

Ankara: It seems surprising that I had been nearly eight months in Turkey and I had not visited the capital, but nothing ever pulled me there and also after this trip nothing will pull me back again! First we visited the Mausoleum of Ataturk (Anitkabir), huge impressive building modelled on same large columns and grandeur I thought of Efes. There were many school parties there and hundreds of children, funnily as we started to walk around and look they spotted us; soon we were being followed around the place like we were famous. The children asking us in English where we were from, how we were they were so excited and wanted desperately to practice their English. Feeling like we were leading their group now, we continued to walk and talk and really laugh with these children, we attempted to hurry in front of the group to see the exhibits and when we did that so did the children, so we could not escape! The children asked to take a picture with us, so why not we said and we posed with a huge group of children whilst many others snapped away! They left telling us that they love us, so sweet.

The Mausoleum is impressive compared to Turkey's other museums and historical sites, they really put all efforts into making an appropriate dedication to their founder Ataturk. Across all of Turkey you cannot escape the glaring eyes of Ataturk in a room or on top of the highest hill in a town, not God or Allah but Ataturk is watching over all of us in Turkey! Inside the museum are countless artefacts, his cigarette case, his sword, and his clothes. For me the collection of paintings, mostly gifts from important political partnerships, hang grandly and depict scenes from the 'Kurtulus Savasi', Freedom Wars that liberated Turkey into today's republic. One picture was of Ataturk greeting two children, him standing very tall and one boy and one girl either side of him. Below the picture is some explanatory text in Turkish and then English, as I read I instantly see a Turkish-English translation error, the Turkish reads that Ataturk is loving the children, if you literally translate it, however when I read the English version, it reads 'Ataturk while caressing children', so I explain the connotations that using the word caressing has when put in the context of children. My Turkish friend quickly beckons the curator there and we discuss a little, and they make a note of this and ask what I would recommend to say instead! Since then I do know, after another friend visited the Mausoleum that they have removed this plaque from the painting to change the text.

In Ankara we then went to the official Assembly building (Turkiye Buyuk Millet Meclisi) of Turkey where Ataturk and his politicians would discuss Turkey's official matters. This was impressive for me, yet kind of eery, this also had something to do with the fact that the electricity went off as we arrived so there was no lighting. The room I remember vividly was that of the assembly room itself, where Ataturk, politicians and other officials would debate current issues, it appeared as a small law court does with a gallery above for other interested parties to watch the proceedings. Typewriters were positioned on a table for the secretaries to write the transcripts, and some telephones. This for me was modern history and Ataturk changed so much, but not so long ago and you are reminded of that in Turkey every day. In Ankara we visited the castle and here talked to some children who were playing skipping games in the streets, we attempted to get into the Archaeology museum for free, limited budget as ever, but they spotted my international student card was a little out of date. We then took a walk through another of Turkey's wonderful street bazaars and crammed six of us into a taxi back to the Aiesec office. There we were met with the wonderful friendly Turks and we all ate ice-cream and bought beers to follow and drank and talked in the Aiesec office's garden, we just escaped missing the bus to Kapadokya at 1:00 am as we had all fell asleep but luckily Naylin from Venezuela was the only clever one amongst us who set her alarm, thank you Naylin!
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