Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Ataturk ..........

Ataturk's tomb

Sunday 24th July: Ankara
After another sumptuous breakfast we set off for yet more culture down the hill to the Ethnographic Museum, with - what a surprise! - yet another huge statue of Ataturk outside the front door. It turned out that this lovely ottoman building was a temporary mauseleom for his body so I guess that explained the statue, but more of Ataturk later as you will see!
The Ethnographic Museum was small but interesting. It had lots of the clothes worn through the ages, and examples of all of the handicrafts, etc. The most interesting exhibit, which unlike the other exhibits had no explanation at all, was the Circumcision Room. It had a mannequin of a young girl lying on a bed fully clothed with some other older females hanging around and that was that!
Then we caught a taxi to the Ataturk Mausoleum - Anit Kabir - where most of Ankara had decided to spend Sunday afternoon, some arriving with flowers.
Clearly the reverence shown for this guy, who was the first President of the Republic of Turkey when it was formed in 1921, is enormous (judging by the size and expense of this site!) Set amongst lovely gardens it had a huge amount of stone walkways and buildings housing not only his body somewhere under a 40 ton sarcophagus, but also his boat, cars, clothes, and personal effects, right down to his hairbrush! AND lots of information about everything he had ever done, including his leadership of the Turks at Gallipoli when he was just Colonel Mustafa. His track record is impressive in some areas as he was determined that Turkey would be a secular state and he was responsible for equal rights for women and some other important social issues. First and foremost he was a soldier and, given Turkey's long history of being plundered by everyone, he was clear that Turkey would fight any future contenders and be well-armed.
There was a huge (rather kitsch) panorama painted across a long wall, which had depictions of all of the major wars in the last century. Fake trenches and war debris placed strategically in front of the panorama were an added attraction. Of course there was a description of the brilliance of the Turks at Gallipoli, with details about the Allied losses but nothing about the Turkish losses. the end of the panel was a donkey with a turkish and Australian soldier giving water to the injured soldiers: hmmmm interesting!
Erin and I reached Ataturk overload somewhat earlier than Ewan. So we whizzed past the exhibitions on every person he'd ever spoken to and headed for the video about his life. Unfortunately we missed the history bit and arrived in time for the fabulousness of Turkey!
I might have enjoyed it a bit more if the security guards hadn't confiscated my bacpack, including my hat and water bottle ( because I clearly look like a terrorist!) and it was hot work! Ewan forgot that he had his pocketknife with him - he likes to be prepared - so that was confiscated too.
It was certainly impressive, with lots of locals and few tourists.
Ewan wasn't feeling great so we went back to the Hotel room and Erin and I went to check out the local craft shops: there's some nice stuff, but we just window shopped.
We had dinner at the same courtyard restaurant as the first night and finally had 'manti' which is described as turkish ravioli: handmade noodles with a meat filling mixed with tomato sauce and yoghurt. Erin and I loved it and Ewan enjoyed his grilled sea bass. After only a few days we were happy to have some varaition from the usual kebabs, kofte (meatballs) etc.

The young waiter showed us around rest of the old house, which was filled with historical bits and pieces.
When we returned to the hotel one of the young guys, who has been helping us learn Turkish, was watching football so Ewan joined him for a while. This was a blessing as then Erin and I could find a station from the 100's available via satellite ( which every dwelling seems to have) which was in english. We did see an episode of Scrubs that had been dubbed into turkish: very odd!

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