Amazingly, the morning after our farewell party, I was not paralytic. Trish commented that if she had drunk as much raki as I had, she would be “laid out”. The bus seemed empty without Claudia and Telli. I wrote in my journal, “Sun. 3 Nov 2013 – We are on the bus for the long drive back to Istanbul. Because we are such a small group (started with nine passengers) our bus is really just a van with 12 passenger seats, so the ride is a bit bumpy making writing difficult. I just saw an eagle. It was brown with white wing tips. :-)”
We drove for a few hours to Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. Ankara is a modern city chosen to be the new republic’s capital due to its central location. It had no prior allegiances which made it perfect for a new beginning. Here rests Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the first president of Turkey. It was here at Ataturk’s mausoleum that I learned about the surname law. Back on the bus, after watching the changing of the guard, I asked Huseyin about this law. He explained that during the Ottoman Empire the law was sharia so people did not have surnames. When Turkey became a republic, one of the biggest changes was to make the government secular and to insist that people have surnames. Ataturk means ‘father of Turkey’.
I forgot to write about a story I read about Ataturk, on a plaque at ANZAC bay. In those days, before he was the father of the republic, he was in the Turkish army; a general, I think. He was hit by shrapnel while in Gallipoli. He did not report the incident because he feared his troops would become disheartened. It turned out that the shrapnel hit his pocket watch, which he was carrying in his left hand, breast pocket, over his heart.
As day nine drew to a close, we witnessed part of what modern day Istanbul experiences regularly. The traffic leading into the city was slow as more and more people were returning after the weekend. On the right-hand side of the road, a large group of men was racing along on foot. Two cars behind us, a huge Turkish flag was lowered from an overhead bridge, cutting off three of the four lanes. When we asked Huseyin what they were protesting, he told us he didn’t know. It was the first time in nine days that he had not known the answer to a question.
The last hotel on the tour, the Titanic City ranked #238 of 1,110 hotels on Trip Advisor, was the best. Although it is not as convenient to the old city as the Kent, it is a couple of blocks away from Taksim Square which made the news a few months before I arrived in Turkey and was where I spent Day 10.