2012 m. rugsėjo 3 d., pirmadienis

Ankara vs. Istanbul

Take a high speed train from Eskisehir and you will be in Ankara just in an hour and a half. I have spent 24 hours here and actually many Turkish people would say that it is enough because there is not much to see and the part about Ankara is returning to Istanbul.

Several foreigners have asked me what was the capital of Turkey – Ankara or Istanbul. Firstly, I wondered how someone can even ask such question, but after some time I have realised that it makes sense. Ankara is a political centre, Istanbul has everything else, this is why it‘s called a second capital.

People tend to calculate and measure everything, starting with the number of mosques and finishing with the number of citizens. Numbers speak for themselves. 5 milion citizens in Ankara and 14 milion (oficially) in Istanbul.

A lot of foreigners or Turkish people are sure that the best place for making a career is Istanbul, also, it‘s full of historical and religious places. The only disadvantages they name – traffic and long distances.

Visiting museums and other touristy places will not let you get the real sense of the city. Anyway, you must visit Attaturk Mauzoliem, Atakule Tower, The Türkocağı Building and one the biggest streets – Aşgabat.

Ataturk Mauzoliem was built for Mustafa Kemal, he was given the surname Ataturk which means ‘Father of the Turks’ after becoming Turkey’s first president. He was a father of a lot of reforms and positive changes in Turkey. Well, he united Turkey after First World War when Turkey barely existed because the British, French, Russians and etc. who claimed much of the land after the Ottoman Empire collapsed. But Atatürk wasn't having any of that and took over these places to form the Turkey known today. In addition, Ataturk made the country more European – like and forced everything to be secular. So, all of the Turkish citizens feel respect for this politician and believe that if he wasn't alive, Turkey wouldn't exist today. As we were discussing with Lithuanians, who live here, he was idealist, and it was his strength. 

These days Ataturk is a mystical figure. His pictures are everywhere – shops, cafes, corners of the streets, of course in the universities or schools, too. Also, it‘s really fashionable to have a tatoo with his signature on the wrist (mostly boys, but yesterday saw one girl who had it too), or tracing on the car. I was trying to figure out maybe there is kind of authority in Lithuania, but there is really no single person throughout our history that I could compare to Ataturk.

Especially I am sure about this after seeing his tomb. He is buried about 25 feet below and in a mausoleum you can see video broadcast from this place.

Unfortunately, he died of the liver cirrhosis from drinking too much of rakı. It is really strong and sweet Turkish drink which should be mixed with water, otherwise it will be unbearable. All my Turkish friends highlight that this drink makes them sad and they start talking about and ringing to their ex boyfriends/girlfriends, crying or doing other crazy, immature stuff. 

Atakule Tower is 125 metres tall and over looks all of Ankara. If you want there is a possibility of taking food up here. But you should be prepared for some security condition (as always in Turkey), one side of the tower overlooks a military base and the president’s house so you’re not allowed to take pictures.

Definitely try to find friends on Couchsurfing.com, because most of citizens live in flats with huge terraces which are perfect to relax after all day walking and to view panorama of the city.

What really makes this town uncomfortable is that you have to call a taxi or use a tram if you want to go from one point of the city to the other. 

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