28 September 2010

This weekend, and the effects of boredom.

This weekend consisted of 3 exciting things that happened.
1. I was shown around Ankara a bit by an actual Turkish person.
2. I wandered around the old part of Ankara and bought my first souvenir (oh my god!)
3. I finally left this area and went to Gordion.

On Friday a girl from my hall took Valentina, Hilla and myself to Ankara to show us where to get cheap, good Turkish food. Surprisingly, it was a chain restaurant, but a really good one, and I got to try lahmacun for the first time. It's basically like a burrito, so I must love it, since I love burritos. It was a large piece of pita-esque bread, topped with lots of minced meat, and then I was given a little plate with cilantro (which I usually hate), tomatoes, and lemon. Put all that on top of the bread with meat, roll it up into a burrito looking roll, and voila, lahmacun. I am now an addict. It might be because its the closest thing to burritos that I can get around here. Especially since I'm still pretty sure that the closest Taco Bell is in Spain. Anyways, I got a lahmacun meal, which consisted of 2 lahmacun (about 9 inches across each) a soda and a bowl of super chocolate-y pudding for...wait for it...8TL. Converted that's probably about 6$. Not bad. And it was legit tasty. I will go back. The bad thing was that it gave me weird dreams that night, which I can't even remember at the moment.

Following the lahmacun adventure we were then escorted to Kocatepe Camii (camii means mosque in Turkish), of which there is a picture of here
According to Sheyma (our Turkish friend/tour guide), it was built in the 1930s in the more modern style after the foundation of the republic. Anyways, it was gorgeous on the inside. And the best part was that, before we went into the mosque, and because Valentina (who is Muslim) and Sheyma could go in to pray, they showed Hilla and I how to do the proper cleansing ritual before you pray, which consists of a lot of washing of hands, blowing of noses, washing of feet, and for me that means WATER EVERYWHERE. After washing, with my pants half wet, they put our scarves on for us (since Hilla and I are incompetent at dressing ourselves) and in the end I looked like this
Look at how stylishly conservative I look in my fancy Gap scarf. Then Hilla and I amused ourselves by wandering around the mosque trying to be unobtrusive while some people inside did their evening prayers. I looked a little weird wandering around with my backpack on since I had come from class.

Saturday was spent wandering around the area of Ulus in Ankara. It's the older, and seedier portion of the city, but has a lot of cool things in it, as long as you go to see them when it's still light outside. I don't remember if I wrote about this in one of my earlier posts, but I actually stayed in a hotel in Ulus the night before I started orientation. I was not informed that it was a dangerous part of town until, when I asked the concierge where someplace good to eat was, he said "oh, this is a dangerous street". I then had to be escorted to and from the restaurant 30 feet away because there were sketchy people just hanging around. Anyways, I actually got to see Ulus when it was nice, so we went to the fortress, got some durum (more burrito like foods), wandered around the bazaar where I bought a hand towel for the gym and stared at these bizarre bedspreads that apparently everybody buys even though they're atrocious.
It looks like it belongs in a porno. And it's not just for wedding nights, its for all nights. Some even had little fake roses all over them like a garden. I don't know how people would be able to sleep on them. Do you think that husbands want to vomit every time they walk into their bedroom? Hell, I want to vomit just looking at it. Valentina says that Turks are obsessed with this kind of kitschy stuff. There is no excuse. That is awful.

Sunday Valentina, Sarah (other Sarah, I'm not referring to myself in the 3rd person), Hilla and I went to Gordion to go check out the tumuli and the citadel. We ended up renting a cab for the entire day since the local bus would drop you off about 1.5 kilometers from the citadel, and the cab waited for us at each location and then took us home. All in all the cab cost us about 100TL, so 25TL a pop, which ended up not being so bad. The Gordion museum ended up being really cute and surrounded by a "demonstration garden" which, in the springtime, has native flowers that grow around the area. The Midas Tumulus was cool, although not quite as spectacular as the Treasury of Atreus, although what it did have in the middle was a log cabin (no Abe Lincoln was not buried in Turkey, as much as that may surprise you), where they entombed the body, and then over which they dumbed a whole bunch of dirt to make the giant mound that we see today. And here it is!
Don't we just love that I can upload pictures now! So yes, it's basically just a giant hill with a log cabin inside. But even cooler is that the 3000 year old logs are STILL PRESERVED OH MY GOD. Even cooler than that, much like Stonehenge, the area around the citadel is COVERED in burial mounds. I don't think that I have a very good picture to show just how covered it was, but there are little hills all over the place. The museum said that there are approximately 88 tumuli in total, but only 35 have been excavated. That means that there are still probably 45 of them with bodies and stuff (maybe more log cabins?) still inside. It's the coolest thing ever.

In other news, I find that I'm very bored in the evenings during the weekday. My professors haven't exactly figured out that they can give us homework yet, so I end up with the afternoons and evenings free to do, well, not very much. As much as I prefer living on campus to living in the middle of the city (safety, convenience, Turkish people living next to me) I find that, because I'm on campus, that I have next to nothing to do once I get out of class. I'm still kind of waiting for my homework to start happening, although since it's already the 3rd week I'm not expecting it anytime soon. I guess its just weird since I'm so spoiled living in Berkeley and having everything going on, even when I was living in the dorms, that, when I have nothing to do here I just don't know what to do with myself. I find that I Facebook stalk a lot, and watch a lot of Mad Men. I also think that's why my blog entries have been so detailed now, because I have nothing better to do than to update. Not like its a bad thing. It keeps everyone informed.

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