I’ve just returned from a wonderful overnight trip to this city of about 650,000, which lies just over halfway between Istanbul and Ankara in Central Anatolia, and is home to several universities, including Anadolu Üniversitesi, the largest in Turkey. It was a revelation. Up till now, I only knew Eskişehir as a place to pass through on the way to somewhere else but recently it has been in the news thanks to the energy and vision of one enterprising man, Professor Yılmaz Büyükerşen, politican, educator, and the current Mayor. With tremendous initiative, he has succeeded in transforming Eskişehir from a dusty, conservative Anatolian town to one that is now more than ready to receive visitors. His many achievements include the reconstruction of one hundred and fifty Ottoman houses in the old part which have been meticulously restored with some of them housing museums and art galleries. Another hundred are scheduled to be done up.
The River Porsuk which dissects the city, formerly dirty and neglected, has been transformed with riverbanks, bridges, and sidewalks; smaller branches are now canals.
The culinary delights of this beguiling city included:
This dish was introduced to Eskişehir in the late 19th Century when a group of Tatars were settled here. Each börek is filled with raw mince and then fried. The pastry is very light and surprisingly it was easy to polish off all five! Strictly speaking, forks are not used, just fingers and paper napkins! The speed with which these appeared from the kitchens was amazing: we were a party of 20 by that time, and there were tons of other people already and the service was impeccable. We sat outside as the temperature was just right with the sun beating gently on our backs.For dinner that evening Ayşe had made a reservation at this stylish restaurant. I was surprised to find a restaurant of that calibre in a little place like Eskişehir with such good food, excellent service, and much cheaper than a comparable place in Istanbul.
Muhallebi is a kind of milk pudding and su means water. It contains very little sugar we were assured – but it’s piled on top instead! The water refers to the fragrant pink rose water that crowns each portion. Delicious! The muhallebici was our last stop before driving back to the station to catch our train to Istanbul at 16.45.