Eskisehir

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For tourists, Eskisehir is little more than a busy, somewhat industrial city acting as the transportation gateway into Central Anatolia, with lots of banks and shops, a few clubs, lots of meerschaum (a soft, white mineral used for crafting pipes), and some passable museums. For Turks, however, Eskisehir, or “Old City,” represents something more: a regional capital with a history stretching back over 3000 years to the Greco-Roman city of Dorylaeum, noted for the curative properties of its thermal baths. As a major industrial transit route, Eskisehir held a vital strategic role in the War of Independence, and today many Turks come from nearby towns for the active nightlife, fueled by a large student community. Though travelers can fill an afternoon or night, most prefer to spend their time and money elsewhere.

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TRANSPORTATION

To get to town from the otogar, take any bus and ask for Köprübaşı, the central district ($.20, $.15 for students). The bus will stop near a large outdoor TV screen at the intersection of İsmet İnönü Cad. and Cengiz Cad. Alternatively, turn right from the otogar onto Sivrihisar Cad. the town center is a 20min. walk.

Buses run from the otogar to Afyon (2hr., every hr., $4); Alanya (7hr., 8 per day 11:30am-1:30am, $14); Ankara (3hr., every hr. 5am-3pm, $6); Antalya (6hr., 8 per day 10:30am-1:30am, $11); Aydın (7hr.; 12:30pm, midnight; $15); Ayvalık (8hr., 5 per day 11am-11pm, $13); Bodrum (11hr., midnight, $16); Bursa (3hr., 10perday 6am-3:45am, $5); Çanakkale (6hr., 7 per day 10am-1:30am, $12); Datça (12hr., 1pm, $19); Denizli (5hr., 4 per day 2:30pm-midnight, $9); Fethiye (7hr., 10:30pm, $15); İstanbul (6hr., every hr. 5am-2am, $10); İzmir (6hr., every hr., $13); Kütahya (1hr., every hr., $1.50); Marmaris (11hr., 11pm, $16). Students discounts are roughly 20%, depending on the bus company.

Trains leave Eskisehir’s station for Ankara (2hr.; 9-12 per day 5:30am-3:30am; $7, students $6); İstanbul (Haydarpaşa station; 4hr.; 10-14 per day 4am-lam; $10, students $8); İzmir (11hr.; 7:35am, 1pm, 12:55am; $7, students $5); Konya (8hr; 4:45am, 2:15, 11:56pm; $6, students $5; end of the line is Karaman). To reach the city center from the station, turn left and follow İstasyon Cad. until it intersects with İsmet İnönü Cad; turn right here and walk about lion to the center of town.

ORIENTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Eskisehir’s center lies between the otogar to the east and the train station to the west. Most hotels are slightly east on Yunusmene Cad. and Sivrihisar Cad., which intersect to become İsmet İnönü Cad., the main commercial street. The other main drag is İki Eylül Cad. Navi¬gation in Eskisehir is tricky, since streets are rarely labeled and have the habit of changing names at intersections. İsmet İnönü Cad. becomes Sivrihisar Cad., which runs parallel to the river and leads to a number of hotels. İki Eylül Cad. crosses the river and runs several blocks before turning left. Hamamyolu Cad., parallel to İki Eylül Cad., passes by thermal baths and a park. To get there, take the second left on Köprübaşı Cad., away from the intersection of Sakarya Cad. and Sivrihisar Cad.

The tourist office, on the ground floor of the Municipal Building (Vilayet Binasi) on İki Eylül Cad., provides colorful brochures about all parts of Turkey except Eskisehir; maps of the city, however, are available. (230 17 52; fax 230 13 68. Open daily 8am-5:30pm.) Among the numerous travel agencies is Sedef Turizm, 1 İlk Eylül Cad. (230 30 71; fax 231 31 67). There are anumber of banks in the city square and on Sivrihisar Cad., including a Yapı ve Kredi with two ATMs. Eskisehir Hastanesi (hospital), Çifteler Cad.,  237 48 00; staffers speak little English. The PTT is on İki Eylül Cad. near the tourist office; there is also one at the otogar.

ACCOMMODATIONS AND FOOD

Otel Divan , 5 Sivrihisar Cad., is the best budget value in town, featuring a central location and clean rooms with Turkish communal toilets and showers on each floor. (232 00 31. Singles without TV $7; doubles with TV $15.) Another good budget choice is Özbek Otel 0, 89 Yunusemre Cad., a functional, slightly institutional hotel that’s far enough from the main streets to afford a quieter night’s sleep. (222 231 20 32. Singles $3; doubles $6.) The Emek Hotel O, on Yunusemre Cad., has pleasant rooms with hot water and friendly management. (231 29 40. Singles $8, students $7.50; doubles $14, students $11.) Further down Sivrihisar Cad., the Çiçek Palas Hotel 0, 29 Sivrihisar Cad., has rock-bottom prices and the accommodations to match. Only for the budget fanatic. ( 234 40 56. Singles $2.50; doubles $5.) A pricier option is the Hotel Arslan O, 107 Yunusemre Cad., was comfortable, well-equipped rooms to go with a spacious lounge area. ( 231 09 09; fax 231 50 18. Singles $10; students $8.)

Finding cheap eats is no problem in Eskisehir, as both îki Eylül Cad. and İsmet İnönü Cad. are lined with restaurants and shops selling döner with ayran for $1 or less. Before you leave, stop by one of the town’s sweet shops and try’ the local nuga helvası, a fluffy yet chewy confection peppered with walnuts. Try Restaurant Ömür 0, 20/A Cumhuriyet Malı. Cengiz Topel Cad. (234 70 00), an informal diner/restaurant, with a good selection at reasonable prices and a central location. Soup $.50, vegetable dishes $1, kebap $1.50. Open 6am-10pm.

SIGHTS

Meerschaum crafts can be found at the otogar or throughout the city; two well-marked shops lie off of İki Eylül Cad. To late September, Eskisehir celebrates its prized craft at the International White Gold Festival. If you have some time to kill, check out the finds from nearby Dorylaeuam at the Archaeology Museum (Arkeoloji Müzesi) on Hasan Polatkan Cad., where you may have the unique experience of having an entire museum to yourself. (Open daily 8:30am-noon, 1:30- 5pm. $1.25, students free.) To get there from the tourist office, turn left on Atatürk Cad. and continue until the road ends. Turn right onto Polatkan Bulvar and the museum will be a few hundred meters on your right. Rest your travel-weary bones at Eskisehir’s thermal baths, said to cure rheumatism, fractures, and kidney stones. A good soaking can be had at the Yeni Kaplua Termal, 5 Hamamyolu Cad. ( 23115 01. $1; 20% student discount.) For a view into the Eskisehir of an earlier era, check out the restored Olsmanlı Evi Müzesi (Museum of the Ottoman House), on Yeşilefendi Sokak, off Şeyh Sahabetlin Cad, just past the Archaeology Museum on Hasan Polatkan Cad. (Open 9am-noon and l-4pm. Free.) This area, known as the “Old Town,” also contains the historical Kurşunlu Camii Kulliyesi (Kurşunlu Mosque Complex), featuring the Ethnography Museum, and a 16th-century mosque.

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