Greetings Kankas and Kankies.
For the benefit of the new Kankas on the Block, let me explain briefly the significance of Genclik Park to the Kanka Group.
The Kanka Group was formed in early 1999, and in those days we used to meet outside the Stadium. However, after a few weeks of standing there in the freezing Ankara winter weather waiting for tailenders, I decided to find a warm place to meet. So, as I was familiar with Genclik Park, I chose The Sahil as our meeting place pre and post matches.
This proved a popular venue in view of its proximity to the Stadium, the standard of food and drink and ambiance, especially in the Spring, Summer and Autumn, situated as it was right next to the Park Lake.
Then 3 years ago the Mayor of Ankara (I.M.G.) closed the park for renovation and other reasons which I won't go into here !
That's when Oz Kanka Chris and I decided to move the meeting place to The Chopin which had easy access for taxis, food n'drink, and efficient and friendly waiters who made us welcome.
So, back to the present, and the 'New' Genclik Park opened on the 30th of August to much fanfare in the local Ankara press, and I believe that Connect Kanka and Phillie Kanka attended the opening ceremoney ?!
I.M.G. was quoted in the press as saying that as far as he was concerned, the restaurants in the Park could sell alcohol if they so wished. I have to confess that I found this hard to believe and put it down to his diplomatic politico talk !
Nevertheless, I am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, and so I did a reconnaissance yesterday to see the set-up for myself.
I headed first for where Sahil used to be situated and there are no restaurants on that side at all. The good news is that the tree which used to be in the middle of the Gents Toilet is still there - I.M.G. did promise not to cut down any trees during the renovation and at least he kept his promise on that subject !
Actually, there are no restaurants of cafes on the lakeside anywhere in the park. They are all well set-back from the lakeside.
OK, so the park has an Altin Park look about it - very pretty and all that, but the old ambiance has disappeared. For example, there was only one tea-house cafe open yesterday, and even allowing for the fact that we are in the middle of Ramadan, that was pretty stingy.
The restaurants that I.M.G. mentioned are all on the Luna Park side of the the park and they are all lying there empty ....... for the moment. The waiter in the tea house told me that they would be opening after Ramadan but he was unsure if they would be selling alcohol !
I had a look at the 6 restaurants which are all side-by-side and they look a wee bit too small inside for winter time. So, I came away with some negative vibes about the chances of reverting to our old meeting venue.
Of course, it would be unfair to judge the restaurants until they are up and running, and I will therefore do another reconnoitre after the Ramadan Bayram to ascertain what these restaurants are offering. Normally I am an optimist by nature, but I have a feeling that the restaurants will chicken out and not sell alcohol. Any bets on that ??
In the meantime then, it is ...... as you were ........ and back to the good old Chopin Bar as our regular meeting place.
Watch this space for more details of the 'New' Genclik Park next month.
All the best from 'the intrepid explorer' Eski Kanka Jim