11 October 2022
Call to Prayer, Fajr, blasted to the heavens at 5:27 this morning. I briefly contemplate prayer time. And with everything else, there’s an App for that. I check out the times for Ankara: the exact times for prayer are calculated based on the position of the sun in the sky so it differs depending upon which city I’m visiting. It also depends upon which calculation method and Juristic settings used. Current setting is the Muslim World League, set to Hanafi. These are things an inquisitive mind wants to know.
I rolled over and went back to sleep.
Sunrise/Shuruq Call to Prayer at 6:54 got me moving. It will be an easy day. I check in for my flight home, pack my few little bits, and confirm checkout time as 1pm. This morning I will walk to the art museums. I leave my street of lights, pass by the mosque, walk up the street of refrigerators and washers, cross the street where racing drivers will stop for you but best don’t trust they all will, and enter the street of picture framers. Every street has a purpose.
The Ankara Art and Sculpture Museum has quite a nice display of Turkish art and sculptors, thus it’s name, covering a wide range of styles from traditional to contemporary. The historic building overlooks the city and the back of the Melike Hatun Mosque. It is well laid out and easy to see in an hour. I don’t know their artists but many of the pieces displayed are quite enjoyable. I’m the only one here.
On a combined ticket is the museum next door: Ankara Ethnography Museum. This is also an historic building and the site of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s resting place of honor until Anitkabir was completed in 1953. An equestrian statue of Atatürk is in front and his gaze reaches across the city and rests upon his mausoleum. Maybe he did realize how revered he would remain.
The museum is quite nice and has English explanations. Displays include weapons, porcelains and tiles, pottery from the 12th and 13th centuries, bronze crafts, some beautiful illuminated and ageless Qur’ans, gorgeous dresses, carpets, and many artifacts from both the Ottoman and the era of the Republic. There’s a little bit of everything.
As one enters the first thing noticed is the marble catafalque where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk laid in state until his mausoleum was completed. Resting under the ornate dome, “In memory of the saint,” his presence is still felt through his quotes:
“One day my mortal body will turn to dust, but the Turkish Republic will stand forever.”
On one wall is Atatürk’s address to Turkish youth given in Ankara on 20th October 1927:
“Turkish Youth, Your first duty is to preserve and to defend Turkish Independence and the Turkish Republic forever. This is the very foundation of your existence and your future….“
Google translate abilities are excellent. While there can be missteps, and some small and tight writing is more difficult to translate, in general Google is handling the Turkish well. It has a pretty awesome capability.
Noon prayer at 12:35 got me into a taxi and on my way to the airport. I am forming a new, gentler opinion when it comes to a taxi. Metered is always best but today’s taxis are mostly electronic so the meters are usually working. No more “broken” excuses. And because we all have Google/Apple maps, they know that we know when we are being taken for a ride.
I remember trying to be in the right direction to get a taxi. No need for that here as cars, trucks, buses and taxis just make a u-turn no matter how narrow or busy the street. It seems to be a rule here that you just turn around. We speed along the fine roads at 75mph, passing even the police cars. And just keep the eyes off the meter. (Here it is in the mirror.) I did use the seatbelt this time as the meter ticks to 50, 100, 150, 200. Then I compute the exchange and realize my trip of 17 miles cost less than $12.
I check in, am directed to a back elevator leading outside and the entrance to the business lounge, pass security again and directed into the lounge. Outside the doors are the buses that will take me to my gate, even though I can see the departure gate from my lounge chair. Tomato soup and Coke Zero for me. I just wish the guys wouldn’t wait so long for boarding the bus, mainly, I guess, because it is all in Turkish and I can’t understand a word. I am a lemming and just follow the crowd and hope someone stops me from boarding the wrong plane.
My destination, according to Condé Nast, the World’s Best Airport: Istanbul.
It is an easy transfer from the domestic terminal to international, through passport control then a long walk to YOTEL Airside. I am within security, surrounded by Duty Free, and just across the “street” from the Miles and Smiles Turkish lounge. I check into the hotel, do a double take on what looks to be a hospital bed and room (including bed controls), do a half hour detour to the Istanbul Airport Museum, then head to the lounge and its wine bar.
An aside about the Istanbul Airport Museum. The tourism board sponsors the museum as a way to sell you on traveling Turkey, yet has the nerve to charge 10€. Don’t bother.
On the brighter side, the Turkish lounge remains fantastic, free (so to speak if one does not count flying for status), and chockablock with serenity, lounge chairs, food and WINE.