6 Oct 2010

Istanbul and Eskisehir

So finally after almost 16 hours of travel, we managed to get settled in at the Hotel in Eskisehir. Eskisehir is actually a small university town, south east of Istanbul. We landed early in the morning at the Mustapha Kemal Ataturk Airport. No problems there - the landing was fine (we didn't even bump) and Immigrations and customs were a breeze. Well not actually a breeze because the queue was fairly long, but it moved and we were cleared without any hitch. Outside, the air was cool and bracing - after being cooped in a cabin for almost 11 hours, that was a really nice feeling. Like other airports, this was very busy but our tour guide was already waiting for us and soon had us out of the crowded car park and onto the highway. He asked us if we wanted to stop somewhere to freshen up and so on so we all said yes and he smiled. But it was easier said then done - the highway was congested and traffic was very very slow. To pass the time he pointed to us some interesting places along the way - Topkapi Palace, the Bhosperous  sea, and a number of old buildings and mosques. He also gave us a brief history of Istanbul, at one time the capital of the Byzantine Empire and known throughout the western world as Constantinople, after the Roman Emperor, Constantine.

The Straits of Bospherous which divides Istanbul into two - the European side and the Asian side

 Istanbul is a fascinating city - a curious blend of East and West, with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia, straddling the Straits of Bospherous. We crossed the huge bridge spanning the straits and went across towards the Asian part of Turkey leaving Istanbul behind us. Well, we'd have 3 days there later on, after the conference. But for now we have to go to Eskisehir, which is more inland and approximately 450 km away.

We finally managed to get out of the congestion and on to the highway by 8.30 am. At 9.00 we stopped at a rest area for a bit of breakfast and to freshen up. The journey would be about 6 hours. We passed through countryside that were quite beautiful - lots of trees and greenery, apple orchards, quince, vineyards and so on. As we journeyed further and further inland, the vegetation became more and more sparse. Much of the country is mountainous according to Marwan, and the place where we were heading is actually a valley, surrounded by mountains. We passed fields of wheat (though the wheat had already been harvested) and meadows where we saw thousands of sheep grazing. We passed through quaint little villages, looking deserted and empty.

We finally arrived at our destination around 1pm and checked in about 2pm. After checking in and freshening up we all had lunch at one of the cafes in town. Eskisehir is a university town with a population of almost 500,000 people, half of which are students. The main food type I think is the kebab. There are many different  varieties of kebabs - meat, vegetables and fish. There are lamb kebabs, beef kebabs, chicken as well as mutton. There are also aubergine, carrots, capsicum, tomatoes and other types of vegetable kebabs. This is normally served with a variety of breads and rice, salads and pepper  (fresh as well as preserved).

The town looks very European in architecture - the apartments all had little gardens around them. There are roses, impatiens, marigolds and foxgloves. Roses especially - all colours and all so fat and healthy looking. Its a pretty town, even though I was told there's nothing touristy here. After the heavy lunch we had a walk along the main street and had a bit of window shopping. Hmm lots of goodies to buy later.

We went back to the hotel for a rest and at 5pm decided to walk down towards the hypermarket next door - Carefour, which is just like the ones we have at home. They also had some nice shops inside - mostly selling clothes.

1 comment:

naida said...

It sounds like a great trip Kat!
Nice photos.