Impressions of Ankara

…based on a measly two days in town.

The first thing that strikes you about Ankara as you exit the plane is the rather acrid smell that lingers in the air. My man at the Norwegian Embassy told me this is because of all the coal being used for heating. The Turkish government has installed gas heating in all of Ankara, but coal is so much cheaper that people use that instead. In the poorer quarters, people even burn garbage, resulting in an even worse smell. And, as I learned in the seminar on renewables, Turkish coal is of a particularly poor quality (those evil lignites), resulting in a lot more fly ash and sulfur dioxide.

The seminar was good, I learned a lot about Turkey’s point of view, and my own presentation went well. The only glitch was that after several portings from Powerpoint to OpenOffice Impress and back, some of the pictures in my presentation had a lot of static in them. Technology: can’t live without it, but you can hate it every day of your life. The Crown Prince came, spoke for fifteen minutes and left, all while we were required to stay seated. So much for cornering him and smirking. Anyway, here he is:

The closest I got to the Crown Prince of Norway

The closest I got to the Crown Prince of Norway

The city of Ankara doesn’t have much to offer, tourist-wise. The Embassy people just laughed when I asked them, and the receptionist at the hotel (fancy Sheraton, actually) sounded like no-one had asked her about that before. Anyway, I visited Ankara’s main attraction, an old castle, which was quite nice. The really positive experience was of course being able to walk around a large landmark without being bothered by a) other tourists (I was the only one! The caslte was huge!) or b) sellers (They all waited patiently for me to make contact!). Apart from this, the city has a very business-oriented feel. It’s thoroughly administrative, in that it was chosen as a capital in 1923 by Atatürk, when only 30 000 people lived there. Now, there are 5 million.

I’m writing this from the airport in Vienna*, so pictures and links will be put up later.

UPDATE: Added picture and some text

* Which is actually quite nice. Small and convenient, but with free wireless everywhere and at least two spots with great sofas or chairs. Do you hear that, Munich and Charles de Gaulle?

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