Today was a bit bizarre. We started out the day the way we’ve started most days in Turkey, with a typical Turkish breakfast of tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta, hard boiled eggs and bread. From there, we climbed into the car for the drive to Ankara, were we would take an overnight train to Istanbul.
As the car was due back at noon and our train didn’t leave Ankara until 10:00 p.m. (obviously, not the Midnight Express) it gave us plenty of time to poke around Ankara, the capital of Turkey.
Ends up, ten hours is a bit much, especially in rainy weather.
Plan A was to store the luggage in a locker at the train station and walk around the city to see the couple of sites noted by Frommers, one of our tried and true travel sites. Thus, we left the train station and made our way through the well laid out and very orderly Glenclik Park across from the station to climb up to what we thought was the Citadel which we could see on the hill.
As we couldn’t locate a map of the city at the train station and the cab we climbed into didn’t understand were we wanted to go, we were on foot and navigating by sight. The climb to what we thought was the Citadel wasn’t exactly straight forward and we arrived to find access through a dilapidated homes backyard, complete with large dog that if not for its chain, would have taken off a limb. Not to be deterred we poked around the littered and dilapidated area to find another entrance. Our wanderings attracted the attention of some local kids and a boy explained that it was closed and asked if we would like him to lead us to the open castle, to which we readily agree. Ends up we had found the White Fort, not the Citadel. Oops!
After following him through a maze of narrow streets in the rundown neighborhood, we arrived at the Fort which, we quickly came to understood was used as a play structure and gathering place by the neighbors. In fact, the castle yard had long ago become a soccer field for the children in the area as the narrow and extremely steep streets made playing anywhere else difficult, but as we witnessed, not impossible.
After searching in vein for the museum, and seeing from our wonderful view of the city that Ataturik’s Mausoleum was too far for us to reach before dark we began to wend our way back down the hill to Genclick Park to take advantage of its amusement park, which was plan B. Along the way we met a group of young children, one of which chatted away to us in Turkish for quite awhile. We responded in English, neither understanding the other, but neither deterred either.
By the time we got to the amusement park, through a wonderful market place, a light drizzle had begun to fall. We decided to ignore the wet and plunge ahead, especially for the entrance fee of .25 cents. Deciding on our first ride, we purchased tickets at the booth, only to learn, through a point and waggle of the finger system, that Theo wasn’t allowed on. We also learned that the rides don’t begin until they’re filled up which can take awhile on a cold and rainy night.
To our dismay, Theo was turned away at each ride we tried, and the rain began to fall in earnest, so we ditched plan B and hatched plan C; eat an early dinner and then head back to the train station to hole up in a corner and watch a movie on the lap top while we ate the chocolates we had purchased earlier in the market to serve as Halloween candy. Not the most traditional of Halloween nights, but Harry Potter and chocolate in a train station ended up doing just fine. (We had planned on watching Top Gun, as our dear friend William was going as Maverick for Halloween, but a glitch in the downloading necessitated a switch to the tried but true, Order of the Phoenix.)
Around 9:30, we began searching for our train and eventually found our couchette, a compartment with 4 seats that folded down into 4 shelve like beds. After a quick tour of the train and a night cap in the dining car, the kids claimed the top shelves, and we all climbed onto our planks, looking forward to waking up in Istanbul.