Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Day with Duygu

Well, after that last post, I figured I should post something fun. Last Saturday, I spent my first real day in Ankara. The night before Canan had taken me to the mall, but this was my first trip downtown. I'll first give some history...

When I arrived at the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul for my flight to Ankara, I was one of the first people in line to check in. A girl was in front of me, and we both seemed to have trouble with our tickets. Well after dealing with that, I happened to get behind her in line to go through a second round of security checks. She had a few bags, and we were going to the same gate, so I helped her with her heaviest bag. We started chatting, and I found out she was a Turkish university student who was studying journalism and was just finishing an internship in Portugal. She told me that she grew up in Ankara and would love to show me around. I immediately jumped at the offer, and we exchanged email addresses. Upon getting on the internet, I sent her an email that I had to wait for my ID card to get off campus but I was excited about seeing Ankara.

Well, when I got my ID card, I emailed her, and we set a time to meet last Saturday at 2pm. She picked me up at the gate here at METU and we took the Dolmus(buses that I'll explain a little later) into Kizilay (the downtown district). She lived near Kizilay, and showed me around briefly before moving more towards her neighborhood. We poked into the Karum Mall (pic below) which is really amazing. The malls here are truly great because there is nothing else for the locals to do in Ankara. There is a Marks and Spencer (a British department store) as well.

Afterwards, we wandered up to Tunali Street. This is the swankier part of Ankara where there are many high end restaurants and shops. We stopped in Medmiz for drinks since it was really hot outside. Duygu got orange juice and I got lemonade. Citrus juices here seem to always be freshly squeezed. There are manual juicers in almost every town. My lemonade had freshly squeezed lemon juice with a ground ice and mint mixture on top. The restaurant was furnished in a very Venician style. All the walls were plaster with some great stone carvings hanging on the walls. The food that people were getting around us looked amazing. Duygu was saying that you need a reservation to eat here at night because it is so good. It is also quite "expensive" to eat. By expensive, I mean that food costs up to 30 YTL for things like filet mignon and so on. So by American standards, it's not too bad. And with the lemonade they have, there it no way I wasn't coming back.

Duygu started to get hungry, so we decided to get food. I had told her I had not had Turksh beer yet, so she said we should get Kumpir at a place where she used to go all the time in high school. Kumpir seems to be a favorite around here. It is a stuffed baked potato. The main ingredients are butter, Russian salad, pickles, sausage (beef or lamb I think), and olives. It can be topped with ketchup and/or mayonaisse. The place we went served beer, so that was the motivator. The beer, Efes, is the most popular beer in Turkey. It is a pilsner that has a very light taste. Unfortunately (or fortunately) it is a really weak beer. You can drink a lot of it and not really get buzzed at all. The restaurant we ate at played Radyo ODTU, the radio station run by METU students. ODTU is the acronym for METU in Turkish. So, if I refer to ODTU, that's what I mean. A lot of the music is American, so it's nice to hear something I can sing along to. After dinner, we took a short walk down Tunali street.

She asked if I had ever smoked Nargile before. Not having a clue what that was, I looked puzzled. She said that it was a pipe with water. "OOOhhhhhhhh, a hookah!" Was my reply, to which she looked really puzzled. Apparently, hookahs are called Nargile here. She took me to the coffee shop where she first smoked Nargile. We each ordered Nargile, apple for me and orange for her. We sat there for about two hours smoking and talking. She asked me a bunch of questions about the States as well as stating that she was surprised I hadn't asked about Turkish people being Arabs. Apparently that would have irritated her, which I knew better so that wasn't even on my mind. After smoking the apple flavored tobacco, I kept smelling apple for the rest of the night.

Her brother called and told her that her grandmother had come to visit for the night. She asked her brother to come pick us up, and they dropped me back at my dorm room. It was a very amazing day which exposed me to so many different things in Ankara. We are going to get together again this Sunday, so hopefully things will keep getting better and better. We are also planning on visiting Asmra and Cappadocia together. It'll be nice having a traveling companion that speaks Turkish.

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