Ankara downhill

First impression of Ankara is like this: mix of Zurich, Prague and New York. Located in pass of high mountains surrounding the city, has most of its streets going up and down as you were in any Alpine city. Looking on a thousands red-tiled houses it resembles Prague downtown. Combined with tremendous number of yellow cabs makes a picture complete.

What differs Ankara is that it is a place that mixes European and Arabic cultures: despite modern downtown, full of shops and cafeterias, it is also loud and jammed, full of rule-breaking drivers, with devastated sidewalks and streets.

From tourism perspective the only places worth seeing are located in old part of Ankara connected to ancient history and Roman presence in this region – old temple of Augustus, remains of Roman bath or column of Julian emperor, built in 362 year to commemorate his visit to Ankara.

In walking distance there is also the Citadel (called Hisar), placed in highest point of the city. If you climb there you will be gratified with excellent view over the whole city. The only tricky part is that Citadel is surrounded by households occupied by poor people, children running narrow old-fashioned street, begging for money. Also the way up to the top of Citadel is not marked, you have to find your way in the maze of ruined buildings around.

Badly maintained infrastructure combined with hilly landscape is a nightmare for skater. When packing up for travel I did not checked elevation profile of the city and happily took my Powerslide skates with me. On arrival to my hotel, located in really steep place, I was upset, but did not give up. I took skates in backpack and went down the streets to a place looking more flat. I made a kind of sensation because in Ankara you cannot find any urban skaters (I have seen one aggressive skater railing down the banister). To my surprise the flat area ended quickly and I had to climb up and ride downhill one by one. Ruined path walks pushed me to ride along the cars on quite well maintained street.  Due to traffic jam I was faster than cars avoiding risk of being smashed by some nervous driver.

Skating elevation profile

Most tricky part was to get down steep streets ending with street lights; there was no way to avoid breaking most of the time which lead to heavy wear of wheels. I could not also make wide turns as the cars were speeding down too. Occasionally I was doing downhill on empty streets when red light blocked cars and the way down was clearly visible without crossroad and traffic lights. In summary in nearly one hour ride I did only 8km, heavily cut the wheels and damaged front wheels’ bearings due to sand and dust. It was worth anyway. Today is my last day here, it is time to go home.

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