Istanbul – Ankara

Departed Rome for Turkey, flying to Ankara via Istanbul. The approach to Istanbul’s Yesilköy airport is spectacular: you fly right over the city, and the grand sights of Constantinople scroll past the window. First the Bosphorus and its green shores, flotillas of boats large and small negotiate the narrow stretch of water linking the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. Then you see the two giant suspension bridges linking Europe to Asia. The Golden Horn with the Galata bridge swings into view, then the hill of Sultanahmet with the six minarets of the Blue Mosque and the great dome of Ayasofya. Next door the Topkapi palace with its Sultans, harems of concubines…..ah, the great mysteries of the East!

I am brought down to earth with a bump on rwy 18 and deplane into an ultramodern stainless steel terminal building. Negotiate the way through immigration and customs and then onto the connecting flight to Ankara. It’s just a short hop, barely an hour and we are there, smack in the middle of the Anatolian plain.

I expected a dry, dusty place, but no! Ankara is a pleasant green city with many parks and wide boulevards. Traffic is disciplined and low-key, none of the jerry-built apartment blocks that surround Istanbul. It’s a modern city, having been planned and built in the 1920s and 1930s after Atatürk chose the spot as the national capital. Government dominates the place, with ministries, embassies, military estabishments etc.

To be followed…..

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