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    The Atatürk Mausoleum in Ankara

    Last weekend two friends and I visited Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Atatürk was the first president and founder of Turkey. The museum was a short dolmuş ride from where we live, located just outside of Kızılay.

    Outside the memorial was an area called Peace Park. It had really lovely landscaping and flowers:


    Turkish flag garden display


    Entrance to the mausoleum was free!


    Atatürk Mausoleum


    There were traditional and ceremonial guards at the entrance:


    Guard at Anıtkabir


    Reliefs at Anıtkabir


    We went into the museum, but photography was not allowed. It featured items and gifts that belonged to Atatürk and had a large section about different battles in Turkey. Near the end, it had Atatürk’s library. There was so much history! I learned Atatürk adopted 13 children.

    The Hall of Honor holds Atatürk’s tomb:


    Anıtkabir Hall of Honor


    Ceiling design


    Guard at Anıtkabir


    It was an overcast day and we got a little rain, but enjoyed checking out Anıtkabir!




    Lovely Lilacs

    Ankara is in bloom! There are many lilac trees around our neighborhood and in the forest. I love their fresh fragrance and have especially enjoyed them in our apartment.

    I might have a problem of taking too many pictures of them. But they’re just so pretty!




    Budding Lilacs


    Lilac Cuttings




    Lilac Leaves







    Spring in Ankara

    Spring has arrived in Ankara! When we left for break on March 23rd, it was snowing. When we got back on the 29th, it was almost 70 degrees!

    We are loving the warmer weather. The kids love it, too. There are lots of flowers blooming and falling off the trees. A kindergartener was handing out blossoms she found on the playground one morning. Another day, I looked out he window and saw a lot of white fluttering in the air. I was worried for a second that it was snow!

    David went on a hike in the forest earlier this week and took some pretty photos.


    Ankara forest


    I don’t know what kind of trees these are, but they’re beautiful. They kind of look like apple blossoms, but I’m not sure.


    Flower blossoms on a tree


    On his hike, David met a turtle friend. Two turtles, actually. But the two turtles were not friends. He thought they were fighting over territory.




    Spring blossom


    Trees blooming in Ankara


    We will post soon about our spring break travels to Amsterdam and Bruges!


    An Afternoon in Ulus

    We took a dolmuş to Ulus on Saturday. David and I have been to Ulus a few times before, but Daniel hadn’t gone yet. (Ulus is another neighborhood in Ankara less than 7 miles from where we live.)

    There was a bit of rain, but it was a nice walk up to the castle. It’s the highest point of the city and free to get in. It’s fun and a little scary to walk along the ledges. There are no guard rails to separate you from the drop offs!


    Ulus castle


    At the Ulus Castle in Ankara


    Ulus Castle


    After seeing the castle, we stopped at a small restaurant. Daniel and I got manti and David got curry chicken. Manti is a Turkish dumpling… kind of like a ravioli. It is served with an olive oil, tomato, yogurt sauce. Lovely and yummy!


    Turkish Manta


    We also stopped by a store called Yöre so Daniel could pick up a few souvenirs. All of their lights and pottery are in the basement. It’s a really pretty place!


    Lanterns in Yore in Ulus, Ankara


    We have just a few more days before spring break. This semester and Daniel’s time in Turkey is flying by fast!



    I Am Most Alive Among the Tall Trees

    One of my favorite places to be is in my parent’s maple woods. When I’m home, I’ll often walk or take my dad’s Gator back to enjoy the peace and quiet. It is something I’ve missed while in Turkey.


    METU Forest


    I recently took a hike in the forest with a friend of mine. It was a fairly clear day and it had been a long week. We decided to just take our cameras and see what we could see. As we walked, I slowly began to let go of the week’s tension. Just to be away from the noise and civilization for a couple hours was refreshing.


    Hiking in the METU forest


    As we moved farther down the trail, the city became more visible and soon we could see all of Ankara and the mountains beyond, but we didn’t have to hear the noise. The scenery and the outdoors were beautiful and I continued to see God’s presence in nature.


    View of Ankara from the METU forest


    View of Ankara from the Metu Forest


    Being outside reminds me to take time to appreciate that which he has surrounded us. I’m positive that nature and quiet will always be a comfort to me. Whether I’m in Ankara, Turkey or Vermontville, Michigan, I am sure that I will always take moments to enjoy the beauty and serenity found in God’s creation.


    METU Forest



    Ankara Jazz Festival

    Last night, David and I went with another couple to a jazz concert. We saw the Murat İşbilen Quintet perform. The group featured 2 guitar players, a bass player, a percussionist, and a violinist. The concert was held on the campus of Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi (known in English as Middle East Technical University) as part of the Ankara Jazz Festival.


    Murat İşbilen Quintet


    When I heard it was a jazz festival, I was expecting to hear the blues. The group’s sound was instead a beautiful mix of classical guitar, latin rhythms, and folk music. Our friend said their style fit more into the smooth jazz category. It was amazing to watch the guitarist’s fingers fly! At times it was hard to believe that so many different sounds were being produced simultaneously from the same instrument.

    They did not mention anything about restricting photography or recording, so I took a short video:



    This year is the 16th annual Ankara Jazz Festival. There are performances at various locations throughout the city from January through March. We hope to maybe see one or two more groups!


    Ankara Jazz Festival Sign


    David started taking classical guitar lessons when he was 6. I think the concert really inspired him, and he tried out some of his old sheet music when we got home. It was a night of great company and great music!