(written by Nancy)
We survived the night in our “lovely” accommodation in Sivrihisar. Breakfast was not included but given the condition of the room and bathroom we decided to forego our usual substitute oatmeal breakfast and try to get something further on down the road. We saw several petrol stations yesterday with attached restaurants so we figured we could get something, no problem. We hit the road before 7- I think one of our earliest starts since we left Nice – that should tell you something about how anxious we were to get out of that hotel!
We continued our northward push on highway D200 all day today. It was a bit of a monotonous ride today – there was very little around us other than fields and fields and fields. And, unlike yesterday, we didn’t see any place to grab a bite to eat until we hit the 50k mark. But the wait was worth it as we had one of our very best breakfasts that we’ve had in Turkey. We pulled over at a PO petrol station (one of the types that we see everywhere here) that had an attached restaurant. Dave went in to order and out came honey, cheese, olives and fried eggs still hot in the pan. There was a big tub full of bread on the table so we dug in. Really delicious and hit the spot, as by that time we were pretty hungry.
We pulled into Eskişehir before noon and made our way into the centre to see if we could find a hotel. According to the signs on the highway this city has a population of 675,000 so it is much bigger than any city we’ve been in since Antalya. We pulled over so Dave could go check out a couple of hotels (his turn today) and ended up at the Ibis Hotel, which is made out of a converted grain silo. A bit of a stretch on our budget but the other hotels seemed to be charging similar rates so there must be decent demand for rooms in this town.
As we got closer to the city this morning we noticed several military jets flying above us. It turns out there is a Turkish air force base here, and the jets have been going over the city since we got here. I watched several go over when I was waiting for Dave – they are very loud so unmissable – but no one else walking on the street even bothered to look up so it is obviously a common occurrence. We can hear them from our room at the moment, still blasting by. I wonder, did we miss a big news story somewhere??
We hung out in our nice clean modern comfortable hotel room (!!) for a bit and then went out to wander and get a bite to eat. The city is so different than the places we have been recently, much more modern. In the last few towns we have been in almost all of the women were dressed very conservatively, wearing headscarves and long ‘raincoats’ (as Dave calls them) to cover up. It really stuck out when you saw a woman walk by with her hair showing. This city, though only 100km away from the last town we were in, is the opposite. Lots of women dressed in much skimpier clothing, shorts, tank tops, etc. Nothing that would raise any eyebrows in Sydney or Portland but is surprising to us after the experiences of the small towns we have been in lately in Turkey.
As we walked around we were surprised to see more bars than we have seen any other place we’ve been in Turkey. Tons of restaurants too, as well as cafes. There are a couple of universities here in town so I am sure that impacts the vibe of the town. Anyway, it is a nice change from the last few weeks and maybe good preparation for what we will experience in Istanbul.
With a busy city, we didn’t expect to getting as many free tea offers as we had yesterday. And that’s how it played out. In our wanders we visited a bar with a travel theme (see photos for us being Oregonians). We finally spotted a little Turkey flag patch – we’ve been collecting one from every country on the trip. While not free tea, the guy working at the bar refused payment for the flag. No big deal, it’s just Turkey folks being Turkish.
Tomorrow we are taking a rest day to explore a bit, plan a bit, and rest a bit. We are looking forward to a day off after riding the past 6 days without a break.