2011
03.13

SYNOPSIS:

A boring entry.  Not worth reading.  I was in transit from Ankara to Bogazkale, a remote village.  About the citadel in Ankara and how Ganesh worked his miracles once again.

This morning I finally understood why Ganesh put me in this ugly, high-rise, run down, three-star hotel in downtown Ankara, a place I would have never chosen on my own.  You may recall that I arrived in Ankara the day of the snow storm.  In the shuttle from the otogar to town I communicated as best as I could with a bus full of non-English speakers about my destination:  Angora House Hotel at the Citadel.  One man confidently assured all others he knew exactly where I was going.  He even directed the bus to go one block out of its way to drop me off near the… ugly high-rise four-star Angora Hotel…  Close in name, yet far from where I needed to go.  It was full and I was sent to the ugly, three-star, high-rise Baskent Hotel around the corner.  The streets were impassible, I had a 25 kg heavy suitcase and myself to maneuver through ice, snow, slush and traffic and I was mad!  The worst hotel I had stayed at so far.  Yes, it was warm, the water was hot, there was a TV, but where was the charm, where the citadel?  I don’t need stars for my hotels, I need authenticity and character.  How could this be?

When I went to the Ankara Museum the next day, I explored the citadel behind it and finally understood why I was not at the Angora House Hotel.  Even though it was a beautifully restored 200 year old building with great views and décor, it was way off the beaten path.  The streets leading up to the citadel were completely iced over.  For a full day longer than the rest of Ankara, people were cut off from town.  No taxi made it up there or down.  I would have been left in the snow at the bottom of the hill with almost 30 minutes to walk through snow and ice – impossible.  And how would I have gotten down this morning to move on without an expensive taxi?  From my ugly high-rise, I had a three minute walk to a bus from where I got to the otogar for $3; $30 saved!  OK, Ganesh.  I see that you at times have to force me for my own good.  I won’t question you anymore.

The citadel is an enclave quite unlike the rest of Ankara.  It goes back to the 9th Century.  Inside its massive fortified walls there is a small village with people living like 100 years ago.  The views across Ankara are stunning.  The adults were shoveling snow off their roofs and dug out their cars from under the snow.  The kids were playing and rolling around in the snow.  Angora House Hotel looked deserted.

Today I was in transit with another overland bus from Ankara via Sungurlu to Bogazkale, my next UNESCO destination.  I knew I could not make it in one stretch.  But I did not worry.  Something usually works out with transport.  But it was unusual:  There was no real otogar at Sungurlu which I have come to expect, but the bus simply stopped on the highway.  The bus attendant got my luggage out and pointed me to the nearby city:  Sungurlu.  I had no choice but to walk.  Thankfully, the roads had been cleared enough for me to pull my luggage into town.  I cannot carry this suitcase any further than a few hundred yards.  It is simply too heavy and bulky.

It took almost 1.5 hours to fill the little minibus in Sungurlu to go to Bogazkale with 8 passengers.  12 is the preferred number…  If they don’t fill, they don’t go.  I began to wonder if I should not just offer to pay the full fare for the microbus to finally move on.  I am definitely out of season and few travelers make it to Bogazkale without either a tour bus or their own car and certainly not now.  At Sungurlu I saw a few city buses lined up and before boarding the microbus I inquired about how to move on from here.  Capadoccia was my next stop.  No bus, nothing, I was told.  You have to go back to Ankara and go from there.  No way!  If you look at the map, that is a ridiculous 4 hour double-backing detour.  How could this be?!  So travelers, beware.  These are the backwaters!

When we finally arrived in the late afternoon, I checked into a hotel in Bogazkale which, like all the other hotels, was empty.  I got a freezing cold room and an electric heater which made slow progress in getting me comfortable.  The 13-15 degrees in Safranbolu began to look like luxury.  I am living in single digits now bundled up to the neck…

I circled the town in less than an hour.   Geese and goats, ducks and dogs, and the occasional cow, that is the upshot.  If I weren’t sure that a UNESCO site looms in the mountains right outside of town, I would have to wonder what on earth anyone would do here.  I was told there had been two Japanese travelers in town just a few days ago.  They had left.  I was it now.

After a bowl of tomato soup in bed and catching up with the blog, there was nothing to do but to curl up and go to sleep.

Good night.

 

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