I’m now in Ankara, about 5 hours NW of Cappadocia, which is the area where the bizarre geology exists.

Here are the last shots of the bizarre landscape and castles made from tweaked landscape; these were Sunday AM as I was waiting for the market to open to try to buy some cloth for a quilt.

And the view from the top I wanted to endorse a place to stay if you find yourself in Goreme, or anywhere in the Nevshehir area, actually, as there’s a little cluster of villages within a dozen or so miles.

And you should find yourself in Goreme at some point— it’s a terrific part of Turkey and Turkey is, as you know from the reports I’ve been sending out for you to read, is a terrific place to be generally.

The place is the K?se Pension, and Dawn K?se, the woman who runs it, is a delight, a woman I’d have kidnapped and brought along with me on the trip if I’d been able.

I kept asking her if her bags were packed and if she’d told her husband and kids yet. . . . . pretty serious flirting, but in a very obvious “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” context.

In The Lonely Planet listings for Goreme, it’s at the top of the lodging list, and for lots of really good reasons, including her.

The American Reunion

And I’m staying there, and the woman in the room next to mine (don’t jump to any unwarranted conclusions here) is from Sequim, and I may be doing some house-sitting for her depending on how it’s going in Portland, and the handy-man/cook is a kid from Walla Walla who’s trying to get certified as a SCUBA instructor so he can start teaching others to dive, getting paid, essentially, for doing something he would pay to do.

And one of Robert’s Rules of Job Satisfaction is this: If you can get others to pay you what you would pay to do, you are in the right place.


I’m now in Ankara, the national capitol, plucked from obscurity (35,000 population in 1924) by Ataturk to be the capitol, and which now has almost 5,000,000.

I was out yesterday (Monday) and hit a couple of top spots— the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (awarded Europe’s Best Museum a few years ago) and the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Here are some shots (both exhibits and grounds) of the museum.

And this guy, a guide,came up to me and introduced himself saying he’d been a Second Lieutenant in the Turkish Army in 1951 and could still remember the names of the three American Army Majors who were his technical advisors.

Here are some Roman bronze sculpture fragments.And some obsidian cores and blades— a huge technological advance— using core technology, you can create yards of sharp edges from one softball-size lump of obsidian rather than only about 9 or 10 inches of sharp edges in one chopper.

You prepare the core, then go around carefully, using a hammer stone and an antler like a punch, and every long flake you strike off the core is a double-edged knife blade that gets down to one molecule thick at the sharp edge.

So these blades are 15 or so times sharper than the best scalpels and because of that are used in some eye surgeries.

Here are three cores and here are some blades.

The grounds are full of these huge (4-5′ tall) terra-cotta storage jars.

Outside, there was a guy selling the almost ubiquitous giant pretzels dusted with cinnamon— he was on his way to where he was going to set up his stand, and carrying them on his head, which is something I’ve seen only rarely over here.

Another Gauntlet— No Surprise There

Just below the museum was the usual gauntlet of souvenir shops, but since these had their wares on the wide cement ledges high on each side of the steps going down the hill, I could get closer to them with the camera at their level.

And here are some of the merchants

The woman above spoke about six languages– Turkish, French, English, Italian, German, and Japanese, at least enough to try and get people to buy her stuff, and was able to spot nationalities and approach people in their own languages. In the 20 minutes or so I spent there, she never missed a one– and there were maybe 4 tour busses worth of people coming down the stairs to the parking lot where the busses were.

A Big Bus Adventure

In between the museum in the AM and the mausoleum in the PM (which I brilliantly hit just as it was closing, thinking it wouldn’t close in the normal sense) I walked about 4 miles through the city and took an adventurous bus ride.

I could see the mausoleum up on the big hill, in the background

and kept walking toward it along the main road. I thought, after taking a couple of deliberate detours (one museum I wound up seeing this AM was closed, and the amusement park I’d hope full of kids for photos wasn’t), I thought it might be time to try the bus.

I got to the local dolmus (big Micro-bus size vans you see all over the country) stop, had the map out with the mausoleum circled on it, got on the wrong one (what a surprise!) but the driver of the wrong one sent me to the one just in front of him and even honked vigorously for me.

I got on that one, pointed at the place on the map, and got lots of stares. SO I asked “Avet (yes) or hiyer (no)?” Lots more stares.

A woman on the bus said “OK” loudly and said something to the driver. So I paid, rode for a little while, and then the driver pulled over to the side, not anywhere near a bus stop, sent me out with directions to walk up the street and turn left. So it wasn’t the right bus either, but the general hospitality of the Turkish people once more shone through my bumbling.

The Pedestrian Olympics

I wanted to put this here, as I had to cross a six-lane road with no crosswalks, and only a narrow island in the middle of the street, to get up to the mausoleum.

In Turkey, the vehicle, and not the pedestrian, has the right-of-way, and at major intersections there are little green man and little red man lights that indicate when pedestrians should attempt crossing the street.

But like many other traffic situations in Turkey, including traffic lanes, everything is pretty fluid.

For example, if you are crossing the street even on the little green man light, it doesn’t start blinking the last 10 seconds to warn you to get a move on— it’s green and then it’s red and you can start to hear the cars rev their motors like the last group lap at Indianapolis, and you start moving quickly as it’s going to become Death Rides the Highway in a second or so, and you don’t quite want to get down and kiss the ground like returning POWs when you make it, but your feelings are close to that.

When I got back from today’s jaunt, I had to cross a busy and confusing intersection, so I waited until there were a couple of twenty-somethings on the side of the road with me, and I went when they went. I won’t quite say “No Sweat,” but I made it.


So I headed up the street another most of a kilometer, and went to the mausoleum.

Here it is from the plaza

and here’s the walkway from the road into the plaza where the mausoleum is

And here comes the relief crew for the 6:00 shift change.

My Neighborhood

I’ve said before that shops tend to be all the same selling the same stuff in the same area— I’m living here, by the way, in the electronic souk, and on the walk this AM, I went through the shoe souk, the office furniture souk, and the blue-jeans and the shirts souks.

The last two museums I have gone through I was accompanied by gangs of school children and tour-bus loads (even at opening hours) with teachers and tour guides (in many languages) speaking loudly so all in the group could hear, and I’ve started carrying my earplugs to museums in large cities.

Rough handling in the AM

When I headed out the door to hit the city this AM I was upbraided by the man at the reception desk pretty loudly in Turkish, and then all-but manhandled out to the sidewalk where the car was parked and he pointed to the windows, which I’d deliberately left open about two inches to keep the air flowing and it was pretty clear he wanted the windows all the way up for the protection of the car and its contents.

Pretty nice of him.

Finally here are a couple of miscellaneous items from today—
A pedestrian overpass— pretty unremarkable, but I never got a chance to show the similar ones form Antalya a couple of weeks ago, where the pedestrian overpasses had escalators, and there were little outdoor bars under them where you could get chai or a drink.

And here’s a six-story building being built in a shallow U-shape, and you are seeing the space between the two wings and the end of the far wing, and I thought that the significant use of wood woven into this huge structure was a surprise.

Originally written for Two Minutes in Turkey

posts by Robert