The capital city of Turkey. The "gray city". The city in which we live right now. The city I reluctantly call home. I don't like this city at all.
The weather in this city is horrible - it's either freezing cold or unbearably hot. The pleasant temperatures of spring and autumn seem to last all of about 10 seconds. Although, granted, the seasonal colours do last a couple of months, which I LOVE.
The landscape in this city is awful - there are no forests, no beaches, and only a few lakes and streams. It's a dry, barren, hilly land neglected by Mother Nature.
The city itself is a sprawling mass of disorganisation. Everywhere you look you'll see evidence of ultra modern urbanisation. And everywhere you look you'll also see evidence of impoverisation. Brand new high rise buildings reach up high into the sky stretching far away from the decayed slum houses at their bases.
In the suburban areas reaching out in all directions from the city, expensive residential properties are built right along side densely packed communal shacks. There doesn't appear to be any kind of design or consideration for layout. Instead, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, a bunch of identical villas will suddenly appear like a rash across a naked hilltop. Buildings are completed before streets, lighting, sewage and water considerations are even made. And the discarded building materials are typically just left in piles beside the property until the next construction project simply builds over the top of them. As a result even the most luxurious estate will be surrounded by a muddy (in winter) or rocky (in summer) mess for years and years.
In terms of entertainment, well there really isn't any. There are never any major concerts or performances held in Ankara because there simply isn't any venue to accommodate them. If you're lucky, you'll find a local band playing in a random bar somewhere. But that's if you're lucky. There are a few interesting museums but they're not the type of places you visit more than once. Of course there are also nightclubs and plenty of restaurants. But for us, parents of a little one, going to a restaurant is only a special treat. Otherwise, the only thing to do is shop. If you love shopping, then maybe Ankara is the city for you. Many times locals have proudly told me that Ankara has more malls than any other city in the world. I'm not sure if that's true or not but I'm almost convinced. There are literally dozens of mega malls within a 20 km radius of our home. Unfortunately for me (and fortunately for my husband) I don't like shopping. And I don't like malls. However I do like going to the movies so the malls do provide one advantage for me when the grandparents offer to babysit.
The worst thing for me, however, is the lack of opportunities for nature-loving. I love to go bushwalking. I love picniking by a beautiful lake or wild river. I love looking for pretty rocks and shells while walking along the beach. I love the icy shock of diving under a waterfall. I love camping (real camping, not the pitching a tent in a caravan park type "camping"). I love looking for birds and butterflies and creepy-crawlies with Ky.
Ankara is certainly not the nature-lover's paradise. All the greenest areas are controlled by the military and access is prohibited, so there's nowhere to bushwalk. Picniking means jostling for a dirty table in a crowded, treeless park with nowhere for the little ones to play because the grass is invariably covered with rubbish thoughtlessly left behind by other picnikers. We're nowhere near the ocean or sea and there's certainly no waterfalls to enjoy nearby. Even the creepy crawlies have abondoned the city. The only bugs you're likely to come across are ants ... not very exciting even for a little boy.
I refuse to let this place get the better of me though. So that is why, this morning, with hubby and bubby, I embarked on a mission to find some beauty in this city.
And you know what? We found some!
It's called Keçiören park, and it's a 40 minute from our house, on the other side of the city. But it's pretty. Ignoring the sounds of the traffic on the main road running along side the park, I was able to look around me at the flowers and trees, breathe deeply, and imagine we were in the countryside far away from bustling Ankara. We had a lovely day.
I've decided this mission isn't complete. Every week we will take a day trip in search of more beauty. The beauty of nature is everywhere and I'm determined to find it!