Ho-hum . . . How to Get Rid of the Winter Blues in Ankara

Now that we are in the heart of winter and all the “good” holidays have passed, i.e. Bayram, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, our thoughts turn to “what to do now”?  For many people, winter is a dark and lonely time of year, especially for those inflicted with SADS (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

For expats, winter can often bring out the worst in us.  We struggle daily with adjusting to life in our host country.  We enjoyed the long holiday of Bayram, but most of us likely didn’t participate in Turkish traditions such as visiting family and neighbors starting with the eldest.  We felt a little lost at Thanksgiving and Christmas, even though a few of and our friends and families celebrated with us.  Let’s face it; the holidays are just not the same when the rest of the country is going about their regular routines.

So how do we spend the rest of winter?  I’m here to tell you that for the most part, you can spend winter doing the same things you did back in your home country.  Nothing has really changed!  In fact, winter is the perfect time to explore those parts of the city and the country that have been on your to do list.  Here are a few suggestions:

  •  Skiing and snowboarding – try Elmadağ in Ankara or take a weekend trip to Kayseri.  At 3,916 meters, Erciyes is actually taller than Bavaria’s Zugspitze!
  • Spend an afternoon at Cer Modern enjoying a free art exhibit and lunch.
  • Still haven’t been to a hamam?  Get to it!  What a great experience!
  • Take a day trip to Kızılcahamam.  There’s nothing like relaxing in a heated outdoor pool filled with natural spring water while snow is falling on your head.  While you are there, drive to the top of the mountain, hike through the woods, and take advantage of the spas and hamams at any of the local hotels.
  • Experience a musical, play, or ballet at the Ankara Opera House.
  • Stroll around Eymir Gölü and revel in the beauty of the winter silhouette.  Enjoy a good meal while you are there.
  • Go cheer on a local basketball team.
  • Seek out concerts and exhibits at local universities.
  • It’s easy to travel in warmer weather, but you are missing out on the beauty of winter season in Amasra, Istanbul, Izmir, Cappadocia, and so many other places!  Just do it!

And don’t forget, there’s still our old favorites:  cuddling up with a good book, learning new recipes, visiting all of the museums, joining a gym or taking a class, starting a club like a book club or a photography club, going to the theater or the mall, volunteering with your favorite organization, starting that blog you meant to write but never did, visiting friends, and taking in the cultural events offered by many local groups, associations, and universities!

UPDATE – Thanks to my hubby for providing this link to the Ankara Jazz Festival!

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16 thoughts on “Ho-hum . . . How to Get Rid of the Winter Blues in Ankara

  1. Careful on the Elmadağ – my significant other has a rather nasty black eye from taking a tumble on (or should that be ‘off’) the slightly dodgy ski lift, and should anything similar happen to you don’t expect any help from the ‘staff’ there who are really just a bunch of people who saw an opportunity in buying a few skis and renting them out. Having said that I have enjoyed some really nice skiing there, especially if you go off to either side of the main slope a bit 🙂

    • I’m sure you are right Tim! You don’t even have to go to the slopes to be completely ignored. I have fallen on the sidewalks many times. Once there was a man standing right next to me. He just kept talking on his cell phone. And no one is worried about law suits here, so I think that makes a difference too. I’m glad you SO’s accident wasn’t worse than that! Be careful out there! 🙂

  2. . . living where we do, winter is the perfect time for being out and about – no tourists and few locals to be found anywhere on our favourite walking routes – just beautiful and so good for the ‘soul’.

  3. I have not skied (sp?) at Elmadag but we stayed at the White Tail and really enjoyed it. I recommend it for a getaway without having to drive too far from Ankara (especially if the pool is heated- friends went a few weeks ago and said the pool was warm.)

  4. Hi;
    Beypazarı might be another good option for a weekend trip. My blog is in Turkish but you may check the photos taken there.
    http://karmahaskickedmyass.wordpress.com/2010/11/21/beypazari-1-yasayan-muze/
    http://karmahaskickedmyass.wordpress.com/2010/11/22/beypazari-2-biraz-tarih-biraz-yemek/

    Besides the Ankara Jazz Festival you can enjoy different music bands at Jolly Joker Ankara ( http://www.jjankara.com/ ) and Hayal Kahvesi ( http://www.hayalkahvesiankara.com/ ).

    I hope they are helpful. 🙂

  5. Firstly I enjoyed reading the blog. You spoiled my boredom a bit thanks..
    I have moved here from İstanbul nearly two years ago, Ankara is not colourful, not many places to go but.. it is attractive to me in winter… just in winter. Depends where you have lived before, however this city has warmth in winter.. only in winter to me. I like restourants, bistros, cafes.. and here is my two favorite ones I wanna share;
    Kuki+ in Filistin st. is a gourment cafe, has cooking courses in diffrent areas.. Also Mutfak in Çayyolu is a good place to have good time while you enjoy the delicious food.

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