Absurd logistics dominated the trip to Eskisehir. As with all development work, the cost of the flight dictates travel. The logistically sensible choice was Sabiha Gokҁen airport, so naturally my ticket was to the newly opened, New Airport that replaced Ataturk. New Airport, with no name, opened for business the day I arrived and is located so far out that calling it Istanbul Airport is wishful thinking. Coming and going there was not a single day in which the schedule survived intact.
Fortunately, the three-hour drive to Eskişehir was beautiful. With spring storms, the valley was dramatically lit and the distant snow-capped peaks a statement of winter’s hold. Fruit trees in the valley were at first bloom.
At first glance the city is impressively clean and well maintained. My colleague told me of the city’s good reputation and excellent quality of life that were achieved by the vision of the long-term mayor. The second day, with a few hours of daylight, Eskişehir shifted from nice to nearly magical.
After changing to comfortable and warmer clothes at the hotel, our host kindly dropped us in the old city. Here, the charm of old-style houses and old stone buildings remains. Shops of local crafts crowd narrow pedestrian streets. In a museum area, there was a display of large and elaborately carved pipes. The pipe bowls were playful faces, herds of horses and scenes of life. The largest was perhaps a meter long. Modest and cheap jewelry was carved from the same white stone as the pipe bowl. At two dollars for a ring, I didn’t bother to resist the temptation. Later, we happened upon a glass shop with exquisite pieces. Next trip, when I have a more suitable suitcase, I intend to bring a lavender vase back with me.
We wandered down from the old city toward the river that runs through the center of town. My colleague was clearly seeking a particular restaurant for us. It was all of a half dozen plastic tables. We chose our drinks and sat. Within minutes, the only dish the place serves, Borek, arrived in a steaming stack easily a half foot high. Exquisitely thin puffy, dough surrounded cooked, spiced ground meat. It was so delicious we each tried to finish our plates but absolutely could not.
After we wandered up and down the boulevard along the Riverwalk, enjoying the meticulously kept water front and whimsical bridges. Any city with a lavender bridge is a city after my own heart.