From Ancient Galatia to Modern Ankara

 

When arriving at the Turkish capitol, Ankara, we felt like we had gotten a lot closer to our home country then we had been before on our Silk Road journey. Ankara felt much more European that I had expected, but just like Istanbul it had its districts that had more in common with its neighbouring countries in the East.

Ankara Castle was definately one of those places. Here the streets were narrow, the buildings were worn and lots of people were selling handicrafts for the tourists. It was also here I realised how big the city really is after walking on the castle walls, overlooking the city from all sides. From there we headed over to the museum of Anatolian Civilization, then to the tomb of Ataturk and when asking our guide what was next he said there were no next. As such a big and historically important city I would have believed it to have more to offer, but sights are also not all. We spent the rest of the day eating one euro kebabs and celebrating having finished a legendary journey through the Silk Road as the group split up here going in different directions and eventually home to their own countries.

 

Istanbul; The gateway to Asia

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When I first came to Istanbul, I was surprised how overwhelming the city was. With a population of 12 million people and all the tourists who where there during the high season it felt like it was a New York of Eastern Europe. I don´t want too sound too cliché, but I must admit that I have fallen a bit in love with Turkey. 

Everything is cheap, people are really friendly and are offering to help (without wanting money afterwards, like in Bulgaria) and there is a lot to see (such as the great mosques, the Turkish dervishes and the catacombs), try (haggling at the spice & silk market, ride the hot air balloon and go up the Galata tower) and taste (Turkish delight, Turkish coffee and real kebab).

The first day I spent walking around looking at the touristy things on the European side, when I heard someone call my name. I then turned around to see a friend who I was studying with a few years ago in Norway and her boyfriend. We were both surprised to see each other in the second biggest city in Europe, and decided to have some beers by the view of the hostel rooftop and go to a couchsurfing party afterwards. There I also met people I had gotten to know in a hostel in Serbia, and I also found someone who was willing to host me the last nights in Istanbul. This guy lived on the Asian side of Istanbul, which was perfect as I then got to take the ferry over, and have someone guiding me through the part of Istanbul which I had not yet seen.
 
I feel like four days was not enough for such a huge city, and wish that I could use my whole three month Turkish visa to stay here in Istanbul.
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