I awoke last Saturday and begged Umit to let me escape from the protected enclave of Bilkent University campus and travel to downtown Ankara. "Let's tour the fish stands in Sakarya and have a great lunch," she responded. So...... we took a Bilkent bus (it was free) downtown, then boarded the Metro for a 15 minute ride. We emerged to the bustling neighborhood of Sakarya.
Some of the unhappy fish in Sakarya
This Could Be New York
Simmitz are so good!
Immediately I heard the sound of street vendors and shop owners shouting, trying to attract customers. The fish stands were the flashiest, with a myriad of unhappy fish lined up like little soldiers for the crowds. I pressed my camera into action, a relatively small Olympus DSLR. Another man handled little pieces of pistrami, heard me speaking English, and yelled "Come taste, come taste." Another was selling simmitz, Turkey's version of sesame covered bagels, which looked delicious. This could easily have been Delancey Street in NYC, complete with the selling of bagels and yelling vendors, except that the "bagels" in Turkey are much better -- sorry New York!
We also walked around Karanfil Sokak, which is nearby, an area of many book stores and students sitting out in cafes, smoking and drinking coffee, or arguing about politics. Every once in a while a small demonstration would take place, people starting to yell slogans in small groups. Some looked on, others ignored what was happening. I also could not help noticing a gathering of police dressed in riot gear standing nearby. (It was at this point that I decided to put my camera away). However, the atmosphere was relaxed. Umit pointed out that this area is a favorite for demonstrations. None of this seemed to stop anyone from shopping, eating and having a good time.
Are You Looking at Me?? Kumsal Restaurant
Kumsal Restaurant, a second-floor restaurant in Sakarya, is a well-known place. Inside the atmosphere is fairly simple but the food is spectacular. In Turkey often the waiter will bring you the fish before it is cooked for your approval, which our waiter did. Turkey enjoys fresh fish from the Black Sea and Sakarya orders it every afternoon for delivery by truck the next day. And of course, no Turkish meal would be complete without small dishes (messa) including salad.