After a week in Ankara, I have some amazing memories and some awesome friends. And definitely no regrets. It has been frustrating and more difficult than I expected. But I did at least have some successes and I have finally committed to going to Africa.
I have booked a flight tomorrow to Cairo. They are not allowing people to enter Egypt by boat so a flight is the only way. I had hoped to go via Cyprus, Israel and Jordan by boat. But I have been told you can’t enter Egypt so I would end up taking 2 boats and have to fly anyway. Or 2 flights so thats no good either.
Its funny because the flight from Ankara changes at Istanbul!
But I don’t regret coming to Ankara as it has been a great experience…
I met Abdurahman who took me to his Turkish choir practice which was for the festival of Mevlana. Mevlana was essentially a wise teacher and writer whose viewpoint was humanist, that God (or Allah) wants us to have open doors for all and to be welcoming, to trust and think positively about our fellow man rather than fearing the worst. The festival features whirling dervishes whose dancing involves holding one hand to god and the other towards the people, spinning to distribute his love to all.
It is an attitude which I have witnessed all week staying with Abdurahman and his beautiful family, his friend Bayram (also unbelievably generous) and other friends at the amazing Cafe DelMundo. It’s a haven for travellers and I have even been sleeping at their house.
It has been the people for me that have been the most memorable rather than the city itself. Ankara is not such a huge tourist destination but is the capital and a big city (Büyük şehir). We saw Ankara castle set on the hill surrounded by crumbling old buildings and on the other side of the city the wide roads with cars who don’t care about red lights (i was nearly hit at a red light by a car which was the traffic police!). There are huge shopping areas but also the university to the west is a huge area with acres of hilly countryside which have not yet been built on. I was lucky to be taken out on bikes by another new friend Deniz who showed me how to abseil.
It has been a tough week because I have had such a hard time finding the medication I need for Africa and getting jabs. There is one hospital in the centre that does Rabies. I had to buy Hepatitis B from the pharmacist and getting malaria tablets took a long time and they just didn’t have any of the normal brands. She must have spent about 3 days ringing hospitals and her husband (a doctor) to get me appointments and prescriptions. I still don’t know the best way to find vaccinations in Ankara. As I think I got treatment normally only for residents. It was all very cheap too. I bought the pharmacist some chocolates to say thanks.
It has also been tough as I tried to find a way forward from Turkey and obtain visas. I left my passport with the Egyptian embassy on Friday for a visa and they said maybe Tuesday. When I returned today they said it would take 2 weeks and I would be better going to the airport in Egypt. Why didn’t he say that 3 days earlier instead of wasting my time?!?!?
And then calling the ferry services to find that if I travelled to Egypt by boat, my bike would be ok but I wouldn’t be allowed in!
I had a great birthday and the guys bought me cake and we went dancing at a club called IF where there was a live band. But Monday was tough because I was visited by Esra from Eskisehir. Nice but it reminded me just how much I miss Paola. And now I have months of cycling Africa. I will console myself with the excitement of the great adventure that lies ahead 🙂