Eskişehir, Turkey 8 – the people – 5/2014

May 18, 2016

While Gary was fascinated with Meerschaum pipes and Zeus, I want to share some more photos of the Eskişehir area, its people, street scenes and the botanical garden. Eskişehir is a modern, clean town with pedestrian streets, funny sculptures, elaborate monuments in round-abouts and interesting parks. I just loved the houses of the beautifully restored Old Town where we strolled around, visited the Meerschaum museum and absorbed the atmosphere. People were busy with life or just sitting on park benches watching the world go by. It was a very welcoming and friendly scene.

The smell of fresh bread beckoned us to a bakery, and following our nose we discovered how the popular sesame bread rings called Simit were made. They are sold throughout Turkey . The busy bakers invited us in and happily posed for photos. In the end, we were presented with a tasty Simit, just pulled out of the oven.

Eskişehir People 32The master meerschaum pipe carver, Mr. Besim Aktaş, patiently answered all our many questions and was very helpful in our quest to learn more about meerschaum mining. His store sold all kinds of Meerschaum products including pipes, letter openers, hairpins, jewelry (necklaces, ear rings, finger rings, brooches and beads) etc. I was surprised that the intricately carved brooches, like the pipes, were as light as a feather. He called a cousin in his home village and told him he was sending us his way to see the mining process. (see Turkey Blog 7 and  www.aktasmeerschaumpipes.com)

Arriving in the village, we found a parking lot adjacent to a community center with a large covered balcony were old men were gathered for their morning “tea” klatsch. Not a woman in sight. None spoke English but as it turned out, several had worked in Germany for a few years so thanks to their rudimentary German, we were able to communicate. They had many questions for us. As tradition has it, we were immediately served with a glass of tea before Mr. Aktaş’ cousin brought us to the area where villagers were working in the shafts and tunnels. The miners were pleased to demonstrate their simple but functional extraction methods and showed us around. I took their invitation to climb down into one of the pits, first using a rope to hang on for a few feet and then climbing a chicken ladder. Just like the gold miners, they used picks and shovels to loosen the dirt in search of nodules of meerschaum. It was backbreaking work in sometimes very cramped tunnels. One miner even demonstrated how he lights and uses his oil lamp. Yup, I made it up the rope again.

Eskişehir People 37Back in the village, we stopped at a house with a porch to drink a soda and learned a bit about the villagers’ lives. Nearby were some old men shooting the breeze and across the street was a lonesome fragil man enjoying the Spring sun. We were told he was over 100 years old and that his wife had recently passed away. There was no family left in the village to care for him. How does he survive, I asked. Some of the kind women in the village bring him food and help when needed. I guess, that’s Turkish Social Security at its best. I walked over to say hello and asked if I could take his picture. He smiled, extending his hand in greeting and seemed pleased for the moment’s attention he received. Too bad we did not speak Turkish. Imagine, born just before World War I during the Ottoman Empire, he could have told us many stories about his long and probably hard life.

After having returned to Eskişehir where Gary bought his treasured meerschaum pipe from Mr. Aktaş, we were looking for a quiet place to spend the night on the outskirts of town and spotted a botanical garden on the GPS. It was a weekday so there were only a handful of visitors. Some mountain bikers peddled by, a group of guys barbecued shish kebabs over a small grill, and a few families were out for an evening stroll. A river had created a large island where a well designed garden with interesting features included trees, shrubs and flowers, water fountains and ponds, art work, educational information, exercise equipment, playgrounds and pick-nick areas. Visitors who passed by greeted. The ones who spoke English stopped to chat. By sunset we were alone and it felt perfectly safe to stay for the night.

 

 

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40 Responses to “Eskişehir, Turkey 8 – the people – 5/2014”

  1. The smell of fresh bread beckoned us into the bakery and close-by we discovered how the popular sesame bread… https://t.co/x3iqBkLyJ9

  2. Love the fresh bread rounds! Similar breads are made also in Kashmir and on a cool morning with Salt Tea and fresh butter there is nothing better! 🙂 Looks like you really enjoying Turkey!

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  7. I loved the long skinny turkish pizza

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  13. Yum

  14. Nothing like fresh baked bread! Have a great time

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  18. I guess we won’t see you at the Overland Expo!

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