|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.