Having made a promise to myself during the harrowing ride into Istanbul I caught a bus out of the city.

Emerging from the cramped confines at 06:30 I discovered that the cheap front brakes I had bought in Thessaloniki hadn't survived the trip. This made for an interesting cycle to Christina's flat. Ankara's hills are steep and feel steeper still with only a back break and the sole of my shoes to slow oneself.

My host said there was nothing much to do in Ankara. A claim she almost immediately scotched by taking me to the fine Castle overlooking the city.

Ankara at ground level felt a staid city after Istanbul. Full of embassy compounds, banks and doctors offices. From this vantage a well situated city flowing up and over the surrounding bowl of mountains revealed itself.

  1. Christina's impeccable timing meant we enjoyed a lingering sunset over the city 

While enjoying a good cup of Earl Gray

The principle goal of my visit to Ankara was to secure an Iranian Visa. Having shelled out £60 for a Letter of Introduction to expedite the process I strolled confidently down to the Embassy only to discover I had arrived 20 minutes after it closed its gates. Thew lucky early arrivals were inside waiting for their turn to talk with the bureaucrats.

The obvious next step was of course to try and break in rather than wait.

Now breaking into a foreign embassy presumably manned by armed guards may not seem like the smartest plan but wouldn't you know, I was successful! Slipping inside past the outer security gate as another petitioner exited I found myself in a small garden.

Adopting a nonchalant demeanor I sat down, lit a cigarette, and waited for another person to exit the next locked door. Successful followed success with my infiltration and soon I was stood at the right window being told that my documents were in order and that if I would return at 15:30 my visa would be ready for collection.

Naturally it wasn't that straight forward. Upon my return I waited for a few hours only to be told that the 'visa printing machine' was 'broken' and that I should return the next day.

The next day my wait lasted many of hours but I emerged successful with a £180 (Ouch) visa in hand.

What is Anders Brevik doing on my visa?

I lingered in Ankara enjoying the easy living and  Christina's company. Listening to her analysis of the current situation in Syria, her role at the UN's World Food Programme made her well qualified to comment. And hanging out with her French and Turkish friends all of whom seemed effortlessly sophisticated and interesting in stark contrast to my own bedraggled person.

Keen to rectify that situation I happily accepted an invitation to join their visit to the Hammam for 45 being scrubbed, soaped and sat on by a hairy Walrus shaped Turk who succeed in cleaning me better than I have ever managed myself. The ceramic interior of the Hammam and its steamy charms were very much to my liking.

For a reason beyond me they found it necessary to wrap a towl around my head as I exited

Ankara isn't one of the worlds great cities but behind the austere bureaucrat charms lies some well hidden charms.

Not least the ever present views the hilly streets provide.

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