Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Turkish Delight – Spring 2013

So, I had the opportunity to visit Ankara, Turkey awhile back and have to say it was a pleasant experience. I was a little apprehensive at first, since the bombing of the US Embassy had happened earlier in the year. But the trip turned out to be very pleasant. For anyone considering traveling to Turkey, for the most part it is surprisingly cheap to visit and get around it. You can get expensive places to eat, but for the most part a great meal is about 10-20 Turkish Lira (or a rough conversion of 5-10 US dollars).

First off, I stayed in the Sheraton Ankara Hotel, in the Kavaklıdere quarter of Ankara. Now, if you've read anything I've previously written about my trips, you've probably noticed that I usually stayed in Hilton hotels. And I have stayed in the Hilton Ankara Hotel before, which I really enjoyed my stay there as well. This Sheraton, was basically exactly the same as you would expect from a Hilton hotel. Amazing breakfast that is pretty over priced and wireless internet that is overcharged for, unless of course you have status to get it for free at either hotel chain. Aside from that, they are both excellent hotel chains for your average tourist and is definitely welcoming and reasonably relaxing to stay in. I highly recommend either the Hilton or Sheraton hotels in Ankara. Their locations may not be the greatest for a lot of site seeing, but they are definitely comfortable with good, if not slightly expensive, amenities.

One of the sites that I had the opportunity to see was Ankara Castle. This is a castle that was built sometime when no one really knows, possibly before the Roman empire. There's no actual tour guide for this castle, and it is currently under some construction, but it has a fantastic view of Ankara and the surrounding areas. While the castle itself wasn't extraordinary, the view definitely was something to behold. I highly recommend a visit.

Right outside the gates of Ankara Castle is a great (and touristy!!) set of streets containing many upon many great little souvenir shops with many beautiful trinkets, spices, wool and other items including beautiful Persian, Turkish, and other Middle Eastern rugs if you're interested in those.

Aside from those limited things to do that I had a chance to see and explore. I had the opportunity to try a number of restaurants near my hotel. A few were definitely notable. The first is Haci Arif Bey, just a few blocks away from the hotel. This is definitely a touristy restaurant with the nich of asking you where you're from and bringing some bread with your home countries name written on it with baked seeds. The food was also quite good, and definitely worth going too again.

Another restaurant which I found surprisingly good was Gunaydin Steakhouse. This is a nice restuarant that again served delicious food, and I higly recommend a visit there, though if you're not careful it could definitely turn into a more expensive meal. Another random place to try is Wok'n Walk, which is a small but tasty Chinese restaurant. There are plenty more restaurants to try, so don't limit yourself!  All in all I highly recommend visiting Ankara, there are probably many more things that I haven't had a chance to see yet.  The food is also simply amazing.  Enjoy!

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