“But isn’t Ankara Boring?” Not if you ask me!
Alisa Khan / Blog: Alisa in Ankara / COMD 357 Multimedia Journalism 2020-21 İlkbahar Dönemi Listeleme Projesi
If you find yourself comparing other Turkish cities like Istanbul with Ankara and feeling low at the thought of having nothing to do here, don’t worry, you’re not alone! A lot of people feel as if Ankara is dull, lifeless and that there’s not enough to do however you just have to become part of the city’s fabric in order to truly see what all there is to offer. Today I’m going to try and give you some insight into what it’s like to live in Ankara and the activities the city has to offer regardless of whether you’re native or not. I’ll be showing you some pandemic friendly options, as well as what you can do when you’re on your own along with what you can do when you’re with a group of people.
Ankara is known for its close proximity to several lakes, for example the Great Salt Lake. The one I’m going to discuss today is Eymir Gölu; situated in the city itself, in the Middle East Technical University campus. It’s a large set lake with the length of approximately 4.2 km surrounded by a lush Pine-tree forest and a solid path for bicycles and people who choose to walk around the lake. There are several busses & forms of transport that can take you to Eymir Gölü, once you reach the lake you can rent out a bicycle or if you have your walking shoes with you you can go for a walk. I would recommend sunscreen anytime of the year! There are several buffet and restaurant options around the lake and you can even take your own picnic (No Open Fires!). The place is family and kid-friendly, but you can also go on your own for some solitude in this little harboured oasis in the otherwise silver tinted city with a good book or music for companionship. You will encounter various varieties of ducks and mallards as you sit at the water’s edge and can even engage in some water sports at some times of the year!
Nature Walks Not For You?
No Problem! Ankara has 2 amusement parks, several ice rinks, Go-Karting and Paintball arenas (all near Bilkent, and other options are not too far away) as well as arcades where bowling, laser tag and pool tables are available in malls and Bilkent Center. Whether you’re a large group of people or just two people trying to figure out what to do on a free Thursday, Ankara has something for you! It’s usually quite easy and takes one simple google search to find all the locations, and contact information to book a slot, however due to the unprecedented situation with the pandemic, some of these activities have been put on hold for now(bowling, lasertag, pool). There are open air football fields, basketball and tennis courts available all over the city. Most buses and metros can get you within walking distance of any of these activities, even though nowadays, what I do is cab everywhere since I find it safer.
Adventure from and around Ankara!
Ankara is located such that it is perfect for day trips to the Cappadocian terrains and even ski lodges, you can take a weekend trip to almost anywhere in the country from here due to its vast availability of transport and location. While you can of course plan your own trips etc, there are some tour organizations in Ankara that cater even specifically to expats, with fully scheduled and affordable trip packages all over Turkey every weekend and long Holiday, for example with Nadide Yılmaz. Her trips are available on her Facebook page and they range from day trips to nearby cities and coasts, to nature walks and hikes within Ankara and then also long trips to the South and West coasts. The best part is, you can sign up alone even, as the majority of her clientele are English speaking and you can make friends on these trips also. Nowadays, the trips are still functional and all SOPs are being followed for the transport and living etc.
Ankara is home to some renowned galleries (CerModern), museums and sites, for example the Ankara castle built in the 8th Century BC. The stone walls and cobbled streets of Ankara Castle have seen empires rise and fall, and are now accustomed to seeing all sorts of people with their smartphones, glasses of Çay, and the area’s famous Gözleme in front of them at a breakfast restaurant. This part of Ankara has been preserved such that it feels like a step back in time with its old residents going about their lives unbothered, speaking to one another from their rustic windows and mud-stone homes with red roofs. Its a great great place for sunsets! You can take your Çay flasks and snacks and settle on one of the castle’s ledges with your friends and play cards as the sun sets over old and new Ankara, painting a picture rich with history, change and beauty.