Friday, 24 February 2012

Seventh destination : Eskisehir

My flight from Vienna landed in Istanbul in the night at around 22:30 hours.  I had a talk with Ugur while I was in Warsaw and I was suppose to catch a bus straight to Eskisehir, where he is studying this days.  I was going to spend the weekend with him in Eskisehir. From the Ataturk airport I boarded a metro that took me straight to Otogar (Istanbul's main bus terminal).  While entering the metro station I bought the token from the vending machine, inserted into the entry point and went into the station.  The token from the vending machine never came out.  But anyhow since the train was right there I just boarded it and was now wondering, do I had to keep the token with me which I forgot to take it from the entry point ? Or you just buy it and forget it ?  I asked few fellow travelers but no one spoke english.  So I stood there with my backpack, sweating with a worry that what if the ticket checker comes in and asks me for the token ? :-S But finally I reached Otogar without any trouble, called Ugur and got on to a Kamil Koc bus to Eskisehir which started at 23:45 hours and was suppose to reach Eskisehir at 04:30 hours in the morning.  

The bus as described to me by Ugur was quiet comfortable, had mini LCD, was warm, had wi-fi and also served tea, coffee and some light snacks.  I asked the cabin boy if the bus would stop at the university campus, but as it was everywhere he didn't knew english.  So I decided i'll get down at the last stop and call Ugur how to reach his place.  I tried to talk to him on skype but the wi-fi on the bus didn't work ;) .  So went to sleep. At around 04:00 hours in the morning the bus stopped somewhere and I heard someone talking with the cabin boy in turkish.  I wondered if it was Ugur's voice and I got down to check and saw him :) .  Oh this is wonderful. Ugur had come with his friend Adem to receive me.  We greeted each other and I took my luggage and we were off to his place.  Before the day started I took some rest to be fresh for the whole day. 

Early morning Ugur had to go for his football practice.  His friends Adem, Bahadir and Ferit took me for breakfast.  Ferit was very well with english and Adem and Bahadir can atleast converse, so it wasn't much of a problem now to communicate and talk.  They ordered the breakfast and in some time it was served.  Turkish bread with turkish cheese, honey, some sweet sauce which was delicious, olives, tomatoes, cucumber and chai.  I loved this breakfast.  By far during my trip this was the best breakfast I had.  The chai is totally different than the Indian masala chai but its very good on a cold windy day.  And lastly had turkish coffee which is so very different from the coffee that I have in India.

Ugur's friends were so easy to get along and we had some interesting and funny conversations.  After having breakfast we got ready and they took me for some sight seeing of Eskisehir.  Interestingly while on the road I saw lots of turkish flags hanging from the apartments and I asked what is the reason for this.  And the answer that came was quiet shocking, that there was a terrorist attack on the south eastern border with Iraq in which some 20 soldiers died.  So we reached one park in some time and Ferit told me that it was the Science, Art and Culture park and it was the biggest park of Eskisehir.  Well I could see that it was really big, very clean and well laid park.  The main attraction was a life sized pirate ship inspired from the movie "Pirates of the Caribbeans" ;)  They all gave the credit for such social developments and good infrastructure in the city to the Mayor of Eskisehir and praised his governance for all the good things in the city.  And it was quiet visible too.

Wall poster @ Cafe Del - Mundo
Late in the afternoon, after Ugur came from his practice we went for lunch to a cafe called Del - Mundo.  I really liked the ambiance at this cafe. Very cozy and the walls were full of travel stories.  Ugur told me that the owner's of the cafe send one of their staff each year on travel abroad and their stories and pictures are put on the walls of the cafe.  The walls were full of pictures from South East Asia, India, China and South America too I guess.  First thing that we ordered was EFES beer.  One of the best available.  The menu mostly had non - veg. food and luckily my craving for veg. food was satisfied by cheese rolls.  But the chicken and meat dishes that Ugur and his friends ordered were also good.  I tried them and they were really delicious.  After a really nice late lunch it was time to relax.  Went home and watched some American Football.  I already knew that Ugur plays American Football for his university. A sport that I was never interested in.  While staying with him and his friends who almost for the entire day watched either Soccer, NBA or American Football.  I some how don't know why started to enjoy watching American Football.  The rawness in the sport kind of pushes your adrenalin when the player is running with the ball and the opposition tries to tackle him.  Though still I don't know much of the sport I at least know that when the player takes the ball over to the opposition's line you score ;)

Bar street

It was Saturday night and time to see the night life of Eskisehir ;) This city though a small one, but being a student city, is quiet vibrant and it gives you a very young feeling.  There is one whole bar street which has just bars and restaurants on its both sides.  At night the typical turkish type lightings makes this street very lively.  Ugur, Ferit and me, we took a stroll on the street and finally sat at one big bar which was totally crowded.  Every chair was taken and there were people waiting in queue too. Luckily we got a table to sit and ordered some drinks.  One after another, drinking and talking and I had a nice cozy Saturday night.  Ugur was since long telling me that I should visit Cappadocia in Turkey.  Its a place with ancient ruins and cave hotels.  We were checking on the internet about the transportation options to Cappadocia from Eskisehir but found none.  So next day morning we went out to check for the buses at the travel offices but we found that there are no direct buses to Cappadocia from Eskisehir :(  So I skipped that place and decided to spend the last 5 days of my trip in Istanbul.  Sunday late afternoon Ugur and me took a nice relaxed walk around the city. I must say that Mr. Ugur is one popular figure in the city.  So many times I noticed that he used to bump into someone who knows him ;) Eskisehir has the river Porsuk flowing through it and one can take a boat ride on it.  There are some streets with very cozy cafe's which are mostly packed during the weekend.
Tavlik Gogsu

Adem, Bahadir, Ugur, Deniz and Ferit
Finally in the evening Ugur booked me a train ticket to Istanbul for Monday morning and we headed to have our dinner.  Some traditional turkish dishes, veg and non-veg. but I ate only veg. Some how I just didn't had the urge to eat any non - veg dish. And along with it we had RAKI - a traditional turkish alcoholic drink.  I loved this one.  Raki is made from fennel seeds and it gives the distinct flavor of it.  When you mix it with water it changes from transparent to opaque white.  Very interesting and I loved the taste.  On our way back Ugur took me to a desert shop and he ordered 2 dishes.  He told me first taste both and tell which one is better.  He had ordered 'TAVLIK GOGSU' - a desert with chicken breast and 'KAZANDIBI' - a kind of bread pudding.  Both were delicious and the one with chicken breast, you really can't make it out that its made from chicken.  So my weekend in Eskisehir was coming to an end and Ugur and me decided to meet up in couple of days in Istanbul as he was coming there for his work. Next morning he walked me to the railway station and I was on my way to Istanbul.  One thing I surely thought when I left Eskisehir is that we Indians are known for our hospitality to guests, but Ugur and his friends were no way less.  Ugur, Ferit, Adem, Bahadir and Deniz made my stay in Eskisehir extremely comfortable, fun filled and memorable.

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