Some Early Observations and Adventures

Jamie and I have lived in Ankara for a little over a month now, so I thought I’d share a few observations and experiences I’ve had since arriving in Anatolia.

The Rule of Three. This observation I came up with after a few visits to the local chain convenience store, Makro Market, at various times of the day. The location near us is about one-eighth the size of your typical CVS or Walgreen’s but when it’s time to check out there are at least three cashiers ready to ring you up morning, noon or night.

A similar scene played out last weekend when Jamie and I took bus trips for New Year’s weekend in Cappadocia. In addition to the driver, our four hour jaunts boasted a steward, who delivered water, snacks, coffee and tea to passengers, as well as an apprentice steward.

No wonder the unemployment rate is dropping.

Going to the Movies. Early last week Jamie and I decided to take in a movie at Panora, widely considered the toniest of Ankara malls (the place has an aquarium with sharks!). The first major difference I noticed is that we were given assigned seats when we purchased our tickets (the same for our bus rides).

Before we could see Tom Cruise get Ghost Protocol-ed, we had to sit through commercials. Movie-goers accept some ads before their flicks today. You know what I mean, you walk in fifteen minutes before showtime and commercials are playing on the screen. When the time comes the lights go out, the previews start, and you’re away.

Not here. The lights go out then the commercials start. As I said, I’d grown accustomed to ads, so when five minutes went by, I thought nothing of it. Then ten minutes. At the fifteen minute mark I was ready to end my own life. Finally, after twenty minutes, the spots ended and ten minutes of previews began.

I shouldn’t knock all the commercials, though. One introduced me to Goa chocolate bars. I have eaten one pretty much every day since.

Goa Bars: My New Vice.

One last thing about the movies. At a Christmas dinner we attended a few nights before, a Greek diplomat mentioned how in his country, and in Turkey, there is always a break during movies, which I think would work for some flicks. Cough! Return of the King! Cough! Yet as the movie rolled, I convinced myself that the tradition had skipped the most upscale mall in Ankara. Sure enough, just as Tom Cruise was about to step outside, the ushers (three of them) called a fifteen minute break. Our movie that started at 8:00pm didn’t let out until after 11 o’clock.

New Year’s. As I mentioned before, Jamie and I went to Cappadocia for New Year’s, just to get out of the city, where we stayed in a lovely little town called Goreme. The first day we tooled around, took in the Open Air Museum, had dinner at Orient Restaurant and rang in 2012 at Fat Boys Bar.

The first day of the new year we took a day-long, group tour that included a terrifying (to me) stop at Derinkuyu Underground City, followed by Ihlara Valley and the Selime Monastery. You can find a few pics from our adventure below.

One more thing. I really, really miss being able to buy milk by the gallon.

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Pictures from Cappadocia

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